Father David's Reflection for Tuesday of Week Twenty-Two (Ordinary Time)
The Responsorial (Psalm 27) is an affirmation of absolute hope: “I believe that I shall see the good things of
the Lord in the land of the living.”
The Rite of Communion is a celebration, a preview, a foretaste of the “end time,” the eternal celebration of the “wedding banquet of the Lamb.” We know it is coming. We know that death is our joyful entrance into the party. But Paul warns us in 1Thessalonians 5:1-11 not to fall into the triviality of asking when the “Day of the Lord” is coming. To ask “when” reduces us to optimism.
We look forward to that Day, not with optimism, but with hope. Optimism is a human calculation, based on a human evaluation of signs. Hope is a divine gift based on nothing but God’s word. There is no light more certain, more sure.
All of you are children of light and of the day.... Therefore encourage and build up one another, as indeed you are doing.
We do it in the Rite of Communion. The predominant theme of this portion of the Mass is triumph. But this theme is inseparable from waiting.
In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus taught us to pray by teaching us what to pray for. Every petition in the Our Father is based on the priorities of Jesus’ own heart. Every petition is asking for the end of the world! For the Kingdom he lived and died to bring to fulfillment. The prayer that follows it ties in these petitions with the experience of divine hope: “as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
This is a literal translation of Titus 2:13 in St. Jerome’s Latin, except the liturgy omits four words (gloriae magni Dei et) after “coming” (adventum) which make clear that the “blessed hope” we await is precisely the manifestation of the glory of God that is going to appear when Jesus comes. The new Missal corrects this by including the missing words in a footnote for those who will read them. Standard translations are: “as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Jesus Christ” (New American Bible) and “waiting in hope for the blessing which will come with the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (New Jerusalem Bible). The point is, we are waiting!
The Rite of Communion is characterized by assurance of Christ’s triumph and by waiting for it to be made manifest. But it is also an experience of that triumph realized here and now. We enter into this experience by sitting for a few moments in silence after all have received, just being aware of Christ present in us all, uniting us all to one another in the “communion of the Holy Spirit.” This is a foretaste of what we have asked for throughout the Eucharistic Prayer and again during the Rite of Peace that follows the Our Father: the “peace and unity” of the Kingdom. But we need to take time, in silence, just to be conscious and feel it.
Luke 4:31-37 reminds us of what destroys peace: sin—selfishness, pride, attachment to one’s own way of thinking, a lack of love. All the “evil spirit.” What brings about peace and unity is the power of God acting in Jesus Christ. As “Lamb of God” he “takes away the sins of the world.”
Initiative: Use Communion to be aware of communion.