“As You Eat You Proclaim”
When do we as Church experience the reality of the risen Jesus in our midst? What keeps us aware of his power operating through us and for us?
Our abiding temptation is to ignore the constant infiltration into our minds of the attitude that the way of Jesus really doesn’t work, and that the resources we need to establish his kingdom are just not available to us. We don’t actually look around us in church and say to Jesus as the disciples did when they had a whole crowd of people to deal with and night was coming on, “Send the crowd away... for we are here in a deserted place,” but neither do we invite all our friends and co-workers, our next-door neighbors and everyone we meet to “Come and see,” confident that just by experiencing Jesus in our Eucharistic celebration they will be drawn closer to him (see John 1:39, 46).
And when we see the social evils of our time — the crime, the addictions, the racial and cultural divisions; the people who show no social responsibility because they feel excluded from society (people who litter, for example!); the shallowness of TV; dishonesty in government, Church, business, and the media; corruption in high places; discouragement and apathy on every level; sub-standard education; poverty, abortion, war and fundamentalism! — when awareness of these problems invades our souls, isn’t it true that we say to Jesus, “Send these problems away, Lord, we can do nothing about them!”
Jesus answered his disciples, “You give them something to eat!” He says the same to us: “You take care of them.” And we answer like the disciples, “We have nothing to take care of them with, no resources that are adequate for what needs to be done.” And underlying our answer is the voice Jesus heard in the desert, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” We say to Jesus without actually saying it, “If you are the Savior, use your power, or give power to us, because your way of powerlessness and loving vulnerability just doesn’t work! Without power we can’t act.”
By “power.” of course, we don’t mean the power Jesus did use, the power of truth and love. We mean the power of this world: economic power, technical power, political power, the power of prestige and connections, the power that gets things done. This is the power that is conceived in resources and confirmed in results. When we have no resources and see no results Jesus as Savior seems remote.
Eucharist is the proclamation, the celebration, the fact and the experience of the risen Jesus triumphant and active in our midst. In Eucharist we celebrate the presence of Jesus offering himself in death on the cross here and now. And by that very fact we proclaim that he is risen and victorious, present to us now precisely in the strength of that death; that his death was a beginning, not an end; that his losing was his triumph; that his dying is the source of life for us and for the whole world; that he is present and active and saving us here and now.
Our experience of Jesus in Eucharist depends on our faith in Jesus in Eucharist. And this faith is a conversion. It is not just a passive affirmation that, yes, Jesus is here because the Church tells us so. To believe in Jesus in Eucharist we have to believe in the action that is taking place; believe that Jesus is offering himself here and now for the redemption of the world; believe that we are invited and able to take part in that action during Mass. Our faith in Eucharist is real when we believe enough to offer Jesus actively as he offers himself; to offer him as members of his body and sharers in his priesthood; to offer ourselves in him and with him. It is when we do this that we experience and know that his death on the cross was not just a moment in history that ended, but his entrance into an unending act of love which for all eternity gives life to us all.
Genesis 14:18-20; Psalm 110:1-4; 1Corinthians 11:23-26; Luke 9:11-17; .