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  • Father David M. Knight

Father David's Reflection for Friday of Week Twenty (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Psalm 146) captures the Mass: Praise the Lord, my soul.

Ruth 1:1-22 is a story of faithful love – love rooted in the bond of family relationship. In the story, the bond of the chosen covenant of marriage takes precedence for Ruth over the bond of inherited kinship. When her immigrant husband dies, Ruth chooses, like Abraham before her, to leave her “country, her [natural] kinsfolk and her father’s house” and “go” to the land of the Covenant. She said to her mother-in-law the beautiful words, “Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”[1]

These words could be the theme of everything in the Eucharistic Prayer that follows the Anamnesis and Offering. Having “remembered” and made present the sacrifice of Christ in which all of us “died” to our natural way of living as “many grains of wheat” in order to become “one bread” by sharing with each other the divine life of God, we focus explicitly on the union we have with one another “in Christ.” This is a family bond, but a divine one: the oneness we have as sons and daughters of the Father. The oneness of “being Christ,” his body on earth. This is the “communion (koinonia) of the Holy Spirit” that we proclaim in the Greeting as an identifying characteristic of us as Church. We proclaim to the Church as a whole: “Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you assemble, I will assemble. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”

This intensified focus on unity begins with the second Epiclesis. We “call down” the Holy Spirit again —this time, not on the gifts, but on the Church. We ask the Holy Spirit to “gather all who share this one bread and one cup,” to “bring us together in unity” and make us “one body, one spirit in Christ.”

This was Jesus’ prayer at the Supper:

Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.... that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Matthew 22:34-40 identifies the essential characteristic of Christian unity: it is love. Love for God as God. Love for each other — not just as “neighbors” — but as brothers and sisters, children of the same Father, even members of the same living body. Jesus changed the “second greatest” Commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” He said, “This is my commandment, that you “Love your neighbor as yourself.”.”

To love is to wish others “to be and be all they can be” — esse et bene esse. This is our prayer or each other as Church, and as Church our prayer for the world. It is a prayer that should impel us to action, beginning with the one Jesus asked for as the most reliable proof of our love for God and others: “If you love me, feed my sheep.” To love is to evangelize, to share with others the Good News. To love is to minister, to “mediate the life of God to others” by giving our bodies to Jesus and letting him use them as the medium for his own life-giving self expression. We minister when we give visible expression, in our physical, human words and actions, to the invisible faith, hope and love that are the actions of the Life of God within us. To do this is to “die” to self to live for others. There is no greater love.[2]

Initiative: Mean the Eucharistic Prayer. Dedicate yourself to ministering in love.

[1] See Genesis 12:1.

[2] John 15:12-13; 21:15-17

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