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Any family event that is celebrated with a meal and a drink is a cause for great joy and happiness. Friends and relatives, some of whom we may not have seen for a long time gather around the table to be fed, nourished and refreshed. Food is eaten, stories are told and memories are created. The transforming power of a family meal should never be ignored, dismissed or underestimated.
Jesus was very fond of eating and celebrating. There are many times in the gospels where we are told that he sat and ate with people. He sought out and ate with those who were despised and excluded; the tax collectors, the sick and the poor. This became such a feature of his daily life and ministry that some of the Pharisees and Scribes even said, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them’. Nobody was excluded for the company or table of Jesus. Can we say the same them today? Who are those who in our families and communities who are not allowed to gather around our table and the table of the Lord.? Who have we decided don’t belong because they are different from us? We need to be careful that we do not becoming like the Pharisees and the Scribes.
Pope Francis challenges us and reminds of this when he says in the Joy of the Gospel, ‘The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak…’ The Church is the House of God, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems.’ This means you and me; it means all of us. We don’t come to share in the Body of Blood of Jesus because we have earned it or because it is our right. We can’t demand it. We come because we are invited around the table of the Lord out of love. It is a gift freely given to us.
The Body of Christ is not just or even something that we receive. As the Church, the People of God, we are the Body of Christ. Through our baptism and confirmation, each of us has become a part of and a member of the Body of Christ. We all belong to the Body of Christ. If one part is missing, excluded or made to feel unwelcome, then the whole body is suffers and is poorer because that person is missing. Jesus excluded no one, so how can we?
The words of St. Augustine, and early church writer echoes down through the centuries to us; ‘Believe what you see, see what you believe and become what you are, the Body of Christ. When we say ‘amen’ we are saying, Yes, I believe this is the Body and Blood of Jesus and I will become the Body of Christ for others’.
On this great Church feast, may we not only receive the Body and Blood of Christ in faith, may we also realise deeply that we are the Body of Christ in and for the world today
Michael Moore OMI