BREAD OF COMPASSION; WINE OF HEALING!
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Scriptural Readings: Genesis 14:18-20; Psalms 110:1, 2, 3, 4; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26;
My dear encountered couples:
All of us are familiar with bread and wine to draw a mental picture of them. For bread we might picture a loaf of bread wrapped in a plastic bag like that which we buy in the grocery store.
Likewise, all of us can picture wine. We may picture a glass of bright red wine or a clear white wine.
In today’s first reading, we are told that Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine. Melchizedek was not celebrating the Eucharist, but he was sharing a meal with Abram and blessing him. For this meal, he used the physical elements of bread and wine.
Besides physical bread and physical wine, however, there are other kinds of bread and wine. In fact, we do not need physical bread and physical wine in order to share bread and wine.
Another kind of bread is that of compassion, that is, feeling with another person. Like, when we offer a shoulder for someone to cry on, or when we share a few moments of our time listening to a person who needs someone to talk to – we are sharing the bread of compassion.
Another kind of wine is that of words. The wine of words has the ability to move our hearts. When we teach, we invite others to drink of the wine of our words. If we are in a bad mood and someone greets us with a warm “hello”, or we are moved to join in song, or we may find ourselves immersed in prayer – the wine of words has been shared among us.
But so often we fail to recognize the various forms of bread and wine. Like the disciples in the Gospel, we fail to understand Jesus’ instruction to give the crowd something to eat. We think that Jesus means physical bread and wine, and we have no physical bread and wine. What Jesus really means is to share the bread and wine of our lives with others.
All we have to do is to begin to take the little that we have, and once we begin to share it – we discover that it keeps on multiplying.
So, Jesus was not interested in physical bread and wine. Notice that the Gospel is introduced with the phrase: “Jesus spoke to the crowds of the reign of God, and He healed all who were in need of healing.”
Jesus had been giving them other kinds of bread and other kinds of wine all day long. He had broken the bread of the kingdom in teaching the crowd, and he had poured out the wine of healing.
We have the same mission. What Jesus did, he commanded His followers to continue to do in His memory. “Do this in memory of me.”
Jesus’ command to his followers is not just to come to celebrate the Eucharist on Sunday and share the physical bread and the physical wine of the eucharistic meal. Jesus’ command to his followers is to share the bread of their lives and the wine of their lives with each other.
“This is my body,” and “This is my blood” are not magic words over bread and wine. Here is Jesus’ body: His people. Here is Jesus’ blood: His people. When we share the bread of compassion and the wine of words, we share Jesus with each other. When we break the bread of prayer and pour out the wine of song, we share Jesus with each other.
Here in us is where the transformation takes place. Indeed, if we have not been sharing our bread and wine all week long, what do we have to celebrate? What do we have to share on Sunday? “Every time we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes!”
As St. Augustine once beautifully said, “It is our own mystery that you celebrate. It is the mystery of taking the little we have, breaking it and pouring it out for others as Jesus taught us, and realizing that we have multiplied; we overflow.”
Jesus is constantly eating bread and drinking wine with his friends. It happens in so many ways. Someone says: “Can you spare a shoulder?” And bread is broken. “Do you have a minute?” And the wine begins to flow.
What are we saying here? Well, when we give our body and our blood for others, we are doing exactly what Jesus told us to do. Every time we eat this bread (no matter what kind) and drink this cup (no matter what kind) we proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes again. We do all this in memory of Him.
Today, on this Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ – we bring with us the memory of all the bread we have broken this past week and of all the wine we have poured out during this past week. And, in a very special way, we thank God for using us as the body and blood of His Son.
As we make Eucharist today, thanksgiving to our God, let us ask God to help us in all that we do this week, so that we might do it in memory of Jesus. Remember – bread and wine come in many different forms, and the more we share them – the more we find that we have them. God bless you!