April 21, 2015
TUESDAY, Easter week three
“Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit”
The Responsorial Psalm is a response to make at the moment of death and at every moment in life: “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit” (Psalm 31).
These are the words Jesus said to the Father when he died (Luke 23:46). In Acts 7:51 to 8:1 Stephen addresses the same words to Jesus as he dies: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” In both cases they are a profession of belief and hope in life after death, life with God, life “to the full,” that only God can give. And so, to act on this hope is a prophetic witness to the divine life of God within us.
In John 6: 30-35 Jesus says we can have this same “life to the full” now. It is not the unmixed fullness of total joy we experience in heaven, but it is joy and essentially the same. We have now the joy we will experience in its fullness when we die. That is why the refrain of our hearts should be constantly, “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.” Into your hands I commend my thoughts, my desires, my priorities and purposes, all my words and actions. “Lord Jesus, I give you my body — as I did at Baptism, as I will at the moment of death. Live this day with me, live this day in me, live this day through me. Let me think with your thoughts, speak with your words and act as your body on earth: Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.”
Jesus says that he himself is the “true bread from heaven.” He is the bread that “gives life to the world.” If we have him we have life and joy. And we can have the experience of possessing him — a human, physical, concrete experience — every time we receive him in Eucharist. He is our life, not only hereafter but here.
Bread is not just life-giving; it is satisfying. It satisfies hunger and gives pleasure. Eating together brings people together in joy. We eat and drink to celebrate.
This is what Eucharist is — “whoever comes to me will never hunger” — and the aftermath of Eucharist is a deeper, more abiding awareness of the presence of Christ in our hearts, of our union of body, soul and spirit with him and with one another. In Eucharist, when the host is lifted up and we offer ourselves with Christ and in Christ, saying with him “This is my body given up for you,” we are saying “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit — and my flesh, my whole existence, all I do.” In Communion we say it again as Jesus gives himself totally to us and we to him. This is “life, life to the full” (John 10:10). This is Christian joy.
Initiative: Be a prophet. Change the way you participate at Mass. Listen intently to the words, grasp their meaning, make their meaning your own. Live them.