Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time: My cover art and column

Aug. 26, 2018 Bulletin Cover

Dear Followers of Jesus,

In John 6:60-69, we hear the last of Jesus’ narratives on the Eucharist. We have listened to this discourse for six weeks. We enter into these reflections with Jesus and the disciples because we constantly need to be reminded that the Eucharist transforms our lives within our complicated world.

Many of the disciples are coming to him saying that his teachings are too difficult. They wonder who can accept the real meaning of it all. Some of his followers are just walking away from Jesus and pursuing their former way of life. Jesus says to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”

Peter responds to Jesus, “Master, to whom shall we go?” My painting on the cover of the bulletin attempts to reveal Peter’s feelings about this question of Jesus. Peter is conflicted, yet deep down he knows that Jesus brings healing and concord. Peter understands that following Jesus leads to eternal life. This is a turning point for Peter. Peter begins to understand that following Jesus costs something. Following Jesus leads to a radical change of perspective and attitude. Love is not flimsy or whimsical. This love is transformative. For Peter, following Jesus will inevitably confront his own betrayal and sin. This tension of faith shows on the face of Peter, his eyes cast down and his thoughts roaming within his mind. We have similar decisions to make, whether or not we will stay with Jesus or leave for power, greed, addiction or ego. A similar expression settles on our faces as well.

The Eucharist costs us our lives because we witness love to our world. Faith challenges the status quo. Jesus turns life upside down. Love is not cheap. When we take a stand in God, we become like Peter who struggled to find new life in following Jesus. We celebrate Eucharist in the midst of war on our streets, during conflict on our boarders, when we prefer selfishness rather than self-giving. We celebrate Mass when hatred knocks on our doors and when violence seems to identify us. If we maintain our faith, we shall stand among people in loss and poverty and hold fast to the assurance that Christ is with us. The Eucharist is profoundly counter-cultural. Where else can we go to create awareness, offer consolation, renew our love of all life or invite people into a life of genuine integrity?

The Eucharist is not a tidy little ritual we perform. The Eucharist is a radical posture of love in a world that does not want such an inclusive love or a call to justice or people transformed into people of peace. The Eucharist is not something to just adore or hold at a distance but a presence of God that changes everything. I pray we may all have the conviction of Peter to say to Jesus is our prayer, “Master, to whom shall we go?

Peace and Blessings,

Fr. Ron

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