August 19, 2018: Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Catholic Social Teaching: Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
Jesus gave this act of oblation an enduring presence through his institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. He anticipated his death and resurrection by giving his disciples, in the bread and wine, his very self, his body and blood as the new manna (cf. Jn 6:31-33). The ancient world had dimly perceived that man’s real food—what truly nourishes him as man—is ultimately the Logos, eternal wisdom: this same Logos now truly becomes food for us—as love. The Eucharist draws us into Jesus’ act of self-oblation. More than just statically receiving the incarnate Logos, we enter into the very dynamic of his self-giving. The imagery of marriage between God and Israel is now realized in a way previously inconceivable: it had meant standing in God’s presence, but now it becomes union with God through sharing in Jesus’ self-gift, sharing in his body and blood. The sacramental “mysticism”, grounded in God’s condescension towards us, operates at a radically different level and lifts us to far greater heights than anything that any human mystical elevation could ever accomplish. (13)
Here we need to consider yet another aspect: this sacramental “mysticism” is social in character, for in sacramental communion I become one with the Lord, like all the other communicants. As Saint Paul says, “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor 10:17). Union with Christ is also union with all those to whom he gives himself. I cannot possess Christ just for myself; I can belong to him only in union with all those who have become, or who will become, his own. Communion draws me out of myself towards him, and thus also towards unity with all Christians. We become “one body”, completely joined in a single existence. Love of God and love of neighbour are now truly united: God incarnate draws us all to himself. We can thus understand how agape also became a term for the Eucharist: there God’s own agape comes to us bodily, in order to continue his work in us and through us. Only by keeping in mind this Christological and sacramental basis can we correctly understand Jesus’ teaching on love. The transition which he makes from the Law and the Prophets to the twofold commandment of love of God and of neighbour, and his grounding the whole life of faith on this central precept, is not simply a matter of morality—something that could exist apart from and alongside faith in Christ and its sacramental re-actualization. Faith, worship and ethos are interwoven as a single reality which takes shape in our encounter with God’s agape. Here the usual contraposition between worship and ethics simply falls apart. “Worship” itself, Eucharistic communion, includes the reality both of being loved and of loving others in turn. A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented. Conversely, as we shall have to consider in greater detail below, the “commandment” of love is only possible because it is more than a requirement. Love can be “commanded” because it has first been given. (14) Deus Caritas Est, 2005
First Reading: Proverbs 9:1-6
Psalm: 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
Second Reading: Ephesians 5:15-20
Gospel: John 6:51-58
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Holy Communion augments our union with Christ. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist in Holy Communion is an intimate union with Christ Jesus. Indeed, the Lord said: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” Life in Christ has its foundation in the Eucharistic banquet: “As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.”227
On the feasts of the Lord, when the faithful receive the Body of the Son, they proclaim to one another the Good News that the first fruits of life have been given, as when the angel said to Mary Magdalene, “Christ is risen!” Now too are life and resurrection conferred on whoever receives Christ. (1391). From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
Christian hope lends great energy to commitment in the social field, because it generates confidence in the possibility of building a better world, even if there will never exist “a paradise of earth”. Christians, particularly the laity, are urged to act in such a way that “the power of the Gospel might shine forth in their daily social and family life. They conduct themselves as children of the promise and thus strong in faith and hope they make the most of the present (cf. Eph 5:16; Col 4:5), and with patience await the glory that is to come (cf. Rom 8:25). Let them not, then, hide this hope in the depths of their hearts, but let them express it by a continual conversion and by wrestling ‘against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness’ (Eph 6:12)”. The religious motivation behind such a commitment may not be shared by all, but the moral convictions that arise from it represent a point of encounter between Christians and all people of good will. (579)
Eucharist is an invitation for communion with the Lord, as whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood remains in him to give them life. Do we foolishly or wisely use this gift? An obligation quickly dismissed upon leaving the church parking lot or treasured until the next opportunity we have to receive? A cultural nuance of doing it because of ancestral traditions or formed from the basis of personal understanding? A robo mode practice lacking sincere feeling or praise from our mouths in gladness? Foolishness discounts the Real Presence in the Eucharist as religious symbolism. Wisdom makes the most of the opportunity to receive the true food and true drink in understanding the will of the Lord to give us life. Life not satiated in self-serving gratification, ego driven consumerism, but a fullness of life resonating to all facets of our existence, each day and movement of our existence. For Jesus to give life, he must be in us as we are in the world being his presence, his hands and feet to do good. A freeing of Jesus from the tabernacle, so with the Spirit within us we address one another in the spirit of the Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs beyond melody to the root of their meaning molding mission. For a Church fostering sacramental piety but scrapping engagement with the world abuses the gift of Eucharist. The Gospel is stripped of meaning to serve one another. An ignorance of mass’ dismissal sending us forth in the world to do the will of the Lord.
Individual Reflection: John 6:51-58
Read Ron Rolheiser’s book One Great Act of Fidelity: Waiting for Christ in the Eucharist
Family Reflection: Ephesians 5:15-20
What is your favorite hymn or song about the Eucharist?
Reflect on the section Eucharist: Body of Christ Broken for the World. How might you use this resource in your parish?
Blogs to Visit:
As we reflect upon Mary’s presence in the mysteries of the Rosary, we are blessed to know her. For her journey, a timeless trek, calls us to surrender, continuing conversion, humbleness and justice now.
Weekly lectionary reflections, for faith sharing groups, parish bulletins, newsletters or personal prayer, from the synergy of the Word we hear and the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
Catholic Social Teaching offers seven principles for upholding life in our thoughts, decisions and actions.
How we do Catholic Social Teaching.
Creation sustainability ministry resources in the spirit of the St Francis Pledge.
Social Ministry Resources Engaging Parishes: Monthly and liturgical seasons resources for use with parish websites, bulletins and newsletters
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born July 31, 2018 St Ignatius of Loyola pray for us. The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.