Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Actual flesh and blood!"

Have you always wanted to know the “big picture” of the Bible? Discover it this Lent! St. Andrew’s is offering The Great Adventure Video Bible Study on Monday nights from 7-9 pm in the rectory basement. The 24-week series will begin on Monday, March 2, 2009; the cost is $40 per person (including materials). To register or for more information, please call Fr. Greg at 301.649.3700 ext. 314 or email him at gshaffer@adwparish.org.

In answer to a blogger’s question, this is the same Bible Study that has been shown on EWTN. Almost 20 people have already registered!
Here are some recent comments from bloggers:

1) “Yesterday, when I was driving there was a car in front of me covered with bumper stickers. There were stickers about peace, war, love, Obama and choice. But the one that caught my eye was a large plain sticker that simply said, ‘Love your Mother.’ I was thinking, ‘Yeah, love your mother- because YOU ARE. If she made a different ‘choice’ you would never know ‘peace’ or ‘love’ or feel the need to go to ‘war’ on any issue.’”

Cool thoughts, Anon, but the sticker is talking about “Mother Earth”. The next time you see one, look for the picture of the Earth next to the word Mother.

2) “This suffering refers to the reproach that Christ's followers must suffer because of their identification with Him. (All those who live godly in Christ will face persecution - 2 Tim 3:12) This has nothing to do with salvation or Christ's work on the cross.”

“James” left this comment in response to my post on Oct. 14, 2008, “What is lacking in the afflictions of Christ”. Assuming that James is referring to the main reference of the post (Col 1:24), I will go with the interpretation of the Church – specifically Pope John Paul II and St. Augustine as mentioned in my post – over his interpretation any day. ALL human suffering has to do with salvation and Christ’s work on the Cross! “In the mystery of the Church as his Body, Christ has in a sense opened his own redemptive suffering to all human suffering” (JP II). It’s up to each person to unite his/her suffering with Christ’s.

3) “I don't think that Thomas' seeing Jesus' wounds is comparable to our seeing Jesus in the Eucharist. The wounds shown to Thomas were exactly that -- physical wounds. But the host does not look like a person. So it truly takes faith to believe in the Real Presence. Thomas, on the other hand, had an easier task. During Communion at Mass, I feel like a mere onlooker because it brings no special experience to me whatsoever. I really do it because not doing it would send a message to my kids that I do not believe, which could dampen their belief.”

This Anon is responding to what I wrote in my post on 1.27.09, “Stay close to the Eucharist”: “Seeing Christ in the Eucharist (through the eyes of faith) is for many people what it was for Thomas seeing his wounds – he believed because he had seen (in fact, we whisper at the consecration at Mass what he said at that moment, “my Lord and my God”).

I appreciate your comments, Anon, and am sorry that you feel like a mere onlooker at Mass. I agree that Thomas’ seeing is not totally comparable to us seeing the Eucharist, but the common denominator in each situation is that something is visible. Thomas saw wound marks on the risen body of Jesus; we see a host and a cup filled with wine. And our reaction to what’s visible in front of us should be the same as Thomas’ reaction to what was visible in front of him: “my Lord and my God”. Faith underlies both reactions.

For those who are struggling to believe in the Real Presence, I recommend a 29 min. video, “This my Body, This is my Blood, Miracles of the Eucharist”, by Bob and Penny Lord. It is available through Journeys of Faith (1.800.633.2484). It presents four documented miracles that Jesus has worked through the Eucharist in the past 1300 years. In one of the miracles, the Host turned into flesh and the Wine turned into Blood. Like, physical flesh and blood that looks like actual flesh and blood! Through these miracles, Christ helps us to believe in His eucharistic Body as He helped Thomas to believe in his risen Body.


At 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“During Communion at Mass, I feel like a mere onlooker because it brings no special experience to me whatsoever.”

There is something I read that enhanced my appreciation of the Eucharist. Paying attention to and reflecting upon the teachings about the Eucharist, I’d think, would make it hard for anyone to feel like an “onlooker.” The Mass, through the Eucharist, calls us to imitate Christ. There are three forms of the sacrament of the Eucharist- Real Presence, the Sacrifice of the Mass and Holy Communion.

The Real Presence calls us to humility- During Jesus life, His divinity was concealed. In the Eucharist, both His divinity and His humanity are concealed. Like this, Jesus calls us to humility. Being humble, like Him in the Eucharist, means that we should set aside and even hide what others might praise.

Sacrifice- In Mass, Jesus offers Himself to us as He did on the cross. He gives His body and sheds His blood again. We, too, are called to true sacrifice, to surrender something we value for God. We receive Grace from this sacrifice that give us the strength we need to submit to God’s will.

Holy Communion- We define love in many ways, but we’d agree that love requires the giving of one’s self. The Eucharist is Jesus’ whole self- humanity, divinity, flesh, blood, body and soul. We are called to imitate Jesus in how we love others- fully, completely and selflessly.

We are called to imitate Christ’s mortal life and Christ in the Eucharist by reflecting on His virtues. If you struggle with believing in the Real Presence, reflect on the mortal Christ and strive to imitate the presence you do understand. The Eucharist is the sacrament of love. Receiving the Eucharist is how His love remains in you, and it’s there, whether you struggle in the belief or not. So, there really isn’t any way you CAN be an onlooker.
Last note- after I receive the Eucharist, I reflect upon how I’m measuring up to those three points- humility, sacrifice and selflessness. In ways that I have been, I praise God. In areas where I haven’t been, I ask for His help. Obviously I believe in the Real Presence, but it’s been that very action that has given me the “feeling” of being in Holy Communion with Him.

At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I should add something to the above- I’m assuming that the anon who talked about feeling like an onlooker has a genuine desire to be in communion with Christ. I’m not sure exactly what happens when one who does not receive the Eucharist- ????

At 1:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He gives His body and sheds His blood again.

I should read what I write before I post.... should have said, he shows the willingness to always give.

At 4:44 PM, Anonymous Katherine said...

Sometimes with Mass, I am either with it or I'm not. Some days I "get it" and I'm all there and I understand what's going and I feel like a part of things. Other days for whatever reason I just feel "there." Sometimes stuff happens at work and that's all I can think about. Or it's other things. But even if I'm not "all there" I feel more healed afterwards. Like maybe everything's gonna be ok after all.

At 4:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Sometimes stuff happens at work and that's all I can think about"

In my experience, when that happens- it's God directing me to bring that "stuff" to him. It's all good- as long as you are there.


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