From the Archives of Fr. Metzler’s Homilies: Feast of Corpus Christi, Cycle A

“Eucharist as the New AA”

Deuteronomy 8:2-3,14b-16a    1 Corinthians 10:16-17    John 6:52-58

A friend of mine, an alcoholic in recovery, likes to explain the dynamics of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting this way: “It’s funny”, he says; “the meetings are always the same, the exact same things get said over and over again. Everything is totally predictable; everyone, except those who are there for the first time, know already what will be said. And we’re not there to show our best sides to each other. I don’t go to an Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to share my talents or to be a nice guy.

No. I go because, if I don’t, I know, and know for sure, that I will start drinking again and eventually destroy myself. It’s that simple. I go there to stay alive!”

In a curious, but accurate way, that can also be a description of the Eucharist, at least of one important aspect of it. Among other reasons, we go to the Eucharist to stay alive. The Eucharist is meant to be God’s regular nourishment for us, daily manna to keep us alive within the desert of our lives.

We get this theology from John’s Gospel. The gospels, as we know, do not have just one theology of the Eucharist. The various communities in the early church each emphasized different things about the Eucharist.

In John’s Gospel, where the other gospels have the institution of the Eucharist at the last supper, he has Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. John, in placing the washing of the feet where the other evangelists put the words of institution, is reminding us that washing each other’s feet, service to and humility before each other, is what the Eucharist is really all about. But John also emphasizes another aspect of Eucharist.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that the Eucharist is the new manna, the new bread from heaven, the new way that God gives us daily sustenance. It was understood not as an extraordinary ritual to commemorate only the last supper, but as an ordinary, ideally daily, ritual to give us sustenance from God.

The Eucharist nurtures us by giving us God’s physical embrace, and, like a Quaker-silence, it gives us a oneness with each other that we cannot give to ourselves. And it provides us with a life-sustaining ritual, a regular meeting around the word and person of Jesus that can become the daily bread of our lives and our communities.  (Ron Rolheiser, S.J.)

Pentecost is the feast when Jesus showed He actually was staying with us here on earth in the most important way possible. He was sending his inside life, the Holy Spirit, into our souls. Christ’s heart would become our heart and by this we would become his new and continuing body for the life of the world. With Spiritual eyes we would be able to see as Jesus sees, the needs around us that He yearns to transform with Love.

But some people feel vaguely dissatisfied with God’s presence with and in us through Holy Spirit They want to touch Him. We live in a material world, so we don’t see how a Spirit way down deep inside us can cope with that. Besides, we sin, often, and by doing so we cast out the Spirit, or at least hide it. We have very short memories, and even with the Spirit we forget about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

The Body and Blood of Christ, this Sunday, here and now, Jesus gives us himself in bodily form. We approach the table of sacrifice and there He gives his body and blood to our body and blood. It is the wonderful way we are joined to the worldly life of Christ. His body becomes one with our bodies in an intimate metamorphosis.

And so the Easter season of the Lord’s coming among us to feed us, to suffer with us, to die with us and to bring all life back to its original source — God-Love – comes full circle; Sunday’s feast of feeding becomes a physical sending of us out into the physical and spiritual world to be Christ for it.

And the world had need for Him, the world awaits Him. And we are up for the task.  (John Foley S. J.)


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