February 3, 2017
Friday, Week Four, Year I
Hebrews 13:1-8; Psalm 27; Mark 6:14-29.
Eucharist is a celebration — and should be an experience — of unity. The key to this is the earlier text (10:5): “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me.”
We saw that Jesus “has abolished the law” with its repeated human rituals, that he might create in himself one new humanity... and might reconcile [the human race] to God in one body through the cross….”
We continue to pray, to keep the Commandments, to join in the offering of Christ at Mass and participate in sacramental rituals. But these are no longer something we do to achieve salvation, hoping God will hear our prayers, forgive our sins and purify us through our rituals, as if there were any doubt of it. Our salvation, purification and sanctification was achieved once and for all when we were sacrificed with and in Christ on the cross. We just have to persevere in living out what we have received, and grow into the “full stature” of what we have become. The key to it all is that we are Christ’s body. We were in his body on the cross. We died and rose in him as his body. And now we are called to recognize ourselves and others as his body always.
Hebrews tells us this means to recognize and love all our “fellow Christians” as our own body. We should “show hospitality” and “keep in mind those who are in prison... and those who are being ill-treated” as if it were happening to us — “since you too are in the body.” Marriage “must be honored by all... and kept undefiled,” for the married are “two in one flesh” in a way beyond human understanding.
We should accept as “leaders” those who “preached the word of God” to us, and “imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”
The New Jerusalem Bible footnote comments: “They [Church leaders] may change or disappear, but Christ remains, and it is to him that Christians owe their allegiance.” Priests and bishops may be saints or sinners (we are all both at the same time), but what we see in them (and they in us) is Christ, and what we imitate in them is their faith, regardless of their works. This faith keeps us conscious that we all one body, the redeemed body of Christ, already “made perfect” in God’s time, but struggling in our human time to let Christ grow to “full stature” in us all.
In Eucharist, everything should make manifest that we are all one, all united, all equal and equally participating in the sacrifice of Jesus made present in the celebration. Paul wrote:
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.
There are “divisions” if some sing and others remain silent in the pews; if some sit together and others alone; if dress and protocol make some appear to have “higher” status through their ministry than others; or if the sanctuary is seen as an area that only the “elite” can enter. The Lord is my light and my salvation. We need no other affirmation than that. And his light is shining in us all.
We are one body. In all of us Jesus Christ is equally present, speaking, acting, and giving glory to the Father. We have to make that visible.