Friday of the Third Week of Easter

Lectionary: 277

Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. 

John 6 is key to the Roman Catholic understanding of the Eucharist. We -- and I speak for myself in particular -- have thought this passage proves beyond any doubt that the Lord is Really Present in the Most Blessed Sacrament; and those who differ or disagree -- ie. Protestants -- are clearly wrong. 

So why are so few convinced of this doctrine? 

For that matter, why do so many practicing, devout Catholics take a bye when they are offered the chalice of his blood. Doesn't Jesus repeatedly couple the eating of his flesh and the drinking of his blood to salvation? 

Perhaps the answers lie in neither of those signs -- the bread or the wine -- but in the phrase, "Just as the living Father sent me." 

Many Catholics and Christians have not heard the part about being sent. They might say, "Perhaps Jesus was sent into the world but no one has sent me anywhere." 

If they feel sent at all, it's in Sam Cooke's sense, "You send me." which may bear a distant kinship to Jesus' intent. 

But the one who is not sent is apparently not a Christian, for Jesus explicitly sent his disciples to all the nations to baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. He was authorized to send us by the Father who had raised him up. 

Some charismatic Christians feel sent in Sam Cooke's meaning and in Jesus's sense of commissioned. 

His sending is first of the whole church. Your parish, for instance, was sent to your neighborhood to be the Sacred Presence -- the Shekhinah -- of God. Can you imagine the catastrophe that would ensue if the Lord were to send your parish elsewhere, if everyone in your church moved out of the neighborhood? How many acts of kindness would be lost to your unchurched neighbors? How many concerned citizens, responsible taxpayers and law-abiding model/mentors would disappear? 

We've seen this very thing happen in some parts of America when neighborhoods were decimated by sociological events. Crime, drug abuse, homelessness and idleness have skyrocketed when key members of the community moved away. 

(I once served in an ethnic parish that had moved across town and built a new church building. Unfortunately many of its members did not move with it, preferring to commute from distant parts of the city. They had little impact on the neighborhood and were sometimes a burden to the local Catholics who did join the parish.)

Because you are a member of the church that was sent there, you share in that sense of duty and privilege. You might not feed all of the sick, visit all of the imprisoned and clothe all of the naked but you do your part in at least some of those works of mercy. 

Our works of mercy make us the REAL PRESENCE of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. When we do those things even the unchurched know that God sent us to them. We have life because of him.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.