Look deeply and see

The great thing about being a child is that you can grow up to be a fire truck (my ambition at one point in life), not be concerned with gravity and the laws of physics, and your world in not limited by “that is not just the way things work.” It is a world of imagination and wonder that sometimes befuddles babysitters, teachers, and parents. It consumes lazy summer afternoons, creates space adventures, and can conjure up a most challenging collection of wisdom and insight. Nothing captures it better than my favorite comic strip of all time, “Calvin and Hobbes.”  Calvin is a preternaturally bright six-year-old; Hobbes is his stuffed toy who, in Calvin’s imagination becomes into his best friend, the innocently wise Hobbes. To read Calvin and Hobbes is to be infused into wondering and wandering on a cosmic scale; to engage the innate human capacity to be surprised, to imagine, and be absorbed into mystery. No topic in the universe is closed to such capacity – not even the theological arts. Calvin mused how predestination is molded by procrastination, finally concluding, “God put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now, I am so far behind that I will never die.” Continue reading

Eucharist: a pattern of life in Christ

I would wager that most people would guess that in Francis’ own writings he spoke at length about poverty, his love of nature and animals, and other topics for which Francis is so well known in the modern world. Yet, in his own writings, there is perhaps no other topic that he addresses more than the Eucharist. In his Eucharistic writings, Francis expresses a deep view of the continuing Incarnation of Christ in the world, and in that vision is an entire way of life. These writings represent part of the movement of Francis’ mystical life from prayer and devotion in solitude before the cross, to a pattern of communal prayer and devotion in the Mass as well as a devotion to the Eucharist apart from Mass. Continue reading

Body of Christ: Promise

The Promise. Jesus’ words of promise were confirmed with a solemn oath that he would not share the festal cup until the meal was resumed and completed in the consummation. The sober reference “no more” indicates that this is Jesus’ final meal and lends to the situation the character of a farewell. The purpose of his vow of abstinence was to declare that his decision to submit to the will of God in vicarious suffering was irrevocable. Forswearing feasting and wine, Jesus dedicated himself with a resolute will to accept the bitter cup of wrath offered to him by the Father. Yet there is here a clear anticipation of the messianic banquet when the Passover fellowship with his followers will be renewed in the Kingdom of God. Then Jesus will drink the wine “new,” where in this context newness is the mark of the redeemed world and the time of ultimate redemption. The reference to “that day” envisions the parousia and the triumph of the Son of Man (see above on Ch. 13:24–27, 32; cf. 1 Cor. 11:26). Thus, in the context of reflecting upon his violent death on behalf of the many, and just prior to the impending events of the passion, Jesus clearly affirmed his vindication and the establishment of an uninterrupted fellowship between the redeemed community and its Redeemer through the experience of messianic salvation. Continue reading

Body of Christ: Last Supper

The Last Supper. In the verses which follow v.17, Mark concentrates all of his attention upon two incidents which marked the meal: the moment of the dipping of the bread and the bitter herbs in the bowl of stewed fruit when Jesus spoke of his betrayal (verses 18–21), and the interpretation of the bread and the third cup of wine following the meal itself (verses 22–25). Continue reading

Body of Christ: Passover

One of the reasons to “study” Scripture is to realize the gospels are not newspaper reports, historic documentation (although it sometimes does just that), or even eye-witness accounts.  Most often the gospels are the writing down, under divine inspiration, the oral accounts of the early Christian community about Jesus the Christ. This is worth noting because, when asked about the Last Supper, most Christians will reply that it was the traditional Passover meal.  But when asked, “Well, where does it say that in Scripture” many are less clear. Continue reading

Body of Christ: context

The story of the “Last Supper” is an account quite familiar to Christians. The version in the Gospel according to Mark certainly recounts many of the familiar features. Too often, Catholic move quickly through the text seeing the institution of the Eucharist – and within the Tradition and Teaching of the church, while they are on solid ground, one wonders if the they adequately understand the deeper currents present in the gospel account. Continue reading

Body of Christ: history of celebration

Jesus’ Final Meal with His Disciples (Mark 14:12-25)

12 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 13 He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him. 14 Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’ 15 Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.” 16 The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover. Continue reading

Holding back

When I was a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy (last century!) I encountered a new phrase: “if the minimum weren’t good enough, it wouldn’t be the minimum.” There a bit of logic to it, but…. can’t say it is the most inspiring bit of prose ever recorded. Yet, there was a sense in which tradition enshrined the saying. The person who graduated with the lowest GPA (2.5 was the minimum) was referred as the “Anchor Man.”  At the end of the graduation he was paraded around on his classmates shoulders and we were all expected to give him a dollar.  Strange tradition, that. He had done the minimum – and who knows he may have worked twice as hard as the rest of us…. Continue reading

The Bread of Life: other thoughts

emaus02Where the principal focus of the previous section is the bread of life as the divine revelation given to men by and in Jesus, John 6:51 adds a clearly Eucharistic theme – ‘I am the living bread come down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.’ While some argue the words are metaphor, the Jews clearly understand. Jesus is referring to eating of his flesh. He recounts this action verb several other times between vv. 51-58, while adding the drinking of his blood to the command. This is no metaphor for accepting his revelation, already adequately expressed. Continue reading