Dear Followers of Jesus,
The most important conversations of my life and priesthood revolve around dining room tables, either at home or in a favorite restaurant. In all of my years of priesthood in various cities, I have gathered people at table to listen to people’s lives of struggle and joy. We have gathered to share life decisions, to sort through problems or to lift a drink in celebration of something wonderful. I could list the restaurants in every city in which I felt most at home. Meals for me are a rich form of intimacy and companionship. Meals together are a continued form of Eucharist.
Common meals are going by the wayside. They are becoming as obsolete as phones with cords or cursive penmanship. Meals with others, however, are at the core of what Eucharist means within our Church. When we lose our interest in common meals, the Eucharist also loses much of its meaning.
If we separate ourselves from Eucharist, we overlook our family stories in the Scriptures. Stories, parables, testimonies and images in Scripture give us purpose in life. They form us as a people of God. The stories around the table of Eucharist form us in an ancient humility and wonder. They teach us to trust God and not just our own inclinations or opinions.
Without the Eucharist, we lose our ability to be in touch with something greater than ourselves. We do not have all the answers. Our convictions and decisions become shaky and even destructive without other people. We need patience in community, forgiveness among those who disagree with us, hope among those who challenge us. Many young people do not have the patience to listen to older people, their parents and most especially the Church.
The Eucharist positively forms our lives in ways we cannot imagine. We learn to trust people. We learn to listen to the problems others face, the diseases that ravage family, the natural disasters that our world encounters. The Mass teaches us that life is not about ourselves. We are formed in teachings that have formed people for centuries. We learn to be hungry for God. We learn that we are not our addictions or our depression or our loneliness. Our restless hearts have remedy and hope within the Mass. I cannot live without our prayer at the altar.
The Eucharist shows us how to live, how to serve and how to believe in God. Most especially, the Eucharist shows us how to have space within our lives to welcome people who are different from us by race, education and political backgrounds. We are growing more insular and selfish and self-protected. We all need to dine with Jesus, our life, and our hope and invite our enemies and friends.
Pray this week about how you believe God is among us in the Mass. Can we recommit our lives to the mission of the Church in offering our lives to the Real Presence of Christ Jesus?