Immersed in Christ: April 16, 2020
Thursday in the Octave of Easter
The Responsorial (Psalm 8) is a prayer of praise and thanksgiving for the gift of creation, and especially for the dignity God has given to the human race: “O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!”
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are humans that you are mindful of them, or the children of men that you care for them?
The presider echoes this praise of God as Creator when he prays over the bread and wine: “Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation, through your goodness we have this bread to offer.” But then the prayer takes us into a whole new dimension of God’s goodness: “It will become for us the Bread of life.”
God is not just Creator, giving us human life as “children of men.” He is the Redeemer and Sanctifier who shares with us his own divine life, making us children of God. The “bread of the children” he gives us becomes the Bread of Life (John 6:30-59).
Matthew uses the word “bread” (artos) to tie together the passages he wrote on the multiplication of the loaves (15:26, 32-39), the Pharisees’ insistence on a “sign from heaven” (16:1-4), and Jesus’ reproach to his disciples for not recognizing him as the kind of Messiah he really came to be (16:5-12), which was the secret they were about to reject when he revealed it (16:21-28).
Jesus warned his disciples against the “yeast of the Pharisees” who expected a Messiah who would use divine power to give people human satisfaction on earth. This was Jesus’ first temptation in the desert (4:3): to change stones to bread as a sign that he brought prosperity. But even after the two “bread signs” (16:9-10), the disciples did not understand the difference between a Messiah who gives the bread of human life and one who gives the Bread of divine life.
The Presentation of Gifts invites us to reaffirm our faith in the central mystery of our redemption: the linking of human and divine. God “humbled himself to share in our humanity” so that he might die and rise as the Bread of Life, making us “sharers in his divinity.”
Peter is preaching this in Acts 3: 11-26: “The God of our fathers has glorified his servant Jesus... the author of life [whom] you put to death.” It is “faith in his name,” the crucified and risen, that gives “fulfillment,” “perfect health,” and the “restoration of all things.”
We place ourselves on the altar with the bread and wine to be offered with Christ and in Christ, reaffirming our Baptism into his death and resurrection. And we echo the presider’s prayer: “Blessed be God forever.” “O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!”
Luke 24: 35-48 ends with Jesus saying, “You are witnesses of these things.” We are the “prophets of the Prophet,” sent to proclaim the transformation of bread into Bread, of the human into the divine, of life into Life and of death into Life everlasting. We know the Good News. We celebrate it in Eucharist. Our lifestyle should cry out, “O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!”
Initiative: Be a prophet. Live in a way that proclaims life through death.