Immersed in Christ: May 16, 2020
Saturday, Week Five of Easter
The Responsorial (Psalm 100) is: “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.”
Yesterday Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” In today’s reading from Acts 16: 1-10 we see Timothy, not laying down his life, but literally shedding his blood in circumcision for no other reason than to keep local prejudice from being an obstacle to the gift of life he and Paul were offering. Paul, who insisted that the law of circumcision was abolished, nevertheless “had him circumcised because of the Jews of that region.” Love is the most demanding law. 1
The Scripture readings and homily in the Liturgy of the Word at Mass can cause division. People have different opinions, influenced by personal leaning toward the left or the right. So what keeps the Liturgy of the Word from splitting us into separate camps of “conservatives” and “liberals” who show more partisan allegiance than “communion in the Holy Spirit”?
First, as soon as the readings and homily are over, we express our unified agreement on the “rock bottom” doctrines of the Profession of Faith. Then we pray together, united in love, for the needs enumerated in the General Intercessions (Prayer of the Faithful). These have a definite unifying effect. As we hear what the community prays for, it makes us proud to be part of it.
But we go beyond this in the Presentation of Gifts. Now everyone in the church passes from words to action, from partisan consciousness to deep awareness of mystical union with each other in the “one bread” which the bread we place on the altar is about to become as the one Body of Christ.
Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.2
Everyone is sending up a host on the same plate, brought up from the back of church, through the whole congregation, to show that the whole community is offering itself together, not just as isolated individuals. And all are being placed on the altar in re-affirmation of the Baptism in which all “presented their bodies as a living sacrifice to God.” All differences and personal preferences are swallowed up in one communal surrender of ourselves, body, mind, heart and will, to be Christ and live as Christ for the life of the world. In the Presentation of Gifts we are all committing to this together.
The Presentation of Gifts reminds us of John 15: 18-21: “You do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world....” Through our human natures we are bread of this earth; people whom “earth has given and human hands have made” — products of our parents’ flesh, formed by our human choices. But “in Christ” we are one with the Bread of Life that transcends this world. Our call as prophets is to be the “leaven” that lifts up the world through a lifestyle inexplicable without grace.” 3
Initiative: Lose all and find all by offering yourself as one with all.
1 Romans 2:25-29; Galatians 5:6, 6:15. 2 1Corinthians 10:17. 3 Matthew 13:33.