Eucharist Helps Us “Wait In Joyful Hope”
FRIDAY, Easter week two:
The Responsorial Psalm seems to be an unlikely echo to the first reading: “One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord” (Psalm 27).
In Acts 5: 34-42 the Jewish authorities wanted to kill the Apostles. Even after Gamaliel spoke, they “had them flogged… ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.”
Flogging is better than dying, but neither one seems anything to rejoice in. But that is what the Apostles did: “As they left the council, they rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.” Even after suffering for their faith — and because of it! — they were able to say, “One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord.” And the rest of the Psalm gives the reason: “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?… I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” We see again the foundation of their courage: Jesus has risen; Jesus has triumphed; Jesus is Lord.
John 6: 1-15 joins the themes of resurrection, eternal life and waiting. A crowd has followed Jesus up the mountain, where no food is available. Jesus tests his disciples by asking what they can do. Philip answers, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough to feed them!” This was an intended preview of life in the Church after Jesus had risen and ascended into heaven, when to “dwell in the house of the Lord” often means to wait in trust for Church reforms, working without needed human resources — not just money, but the knowledge, talents and personnel needed for ministry! This is very obvious to us in the Church of today.
Jesus’ response is to give a preview of Eucharist: he “took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them….” This is a deliberate, recognizable Gospel echo of Jesus’ words at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:19; 1Corinthians 11:24). At Eucharist we receive the bread of eternal life from the risen Jesus: “Whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (John 6: 30-58).
The themes of the Rite of Communion at Mass are triumph, eternal life and waiting. We celebrate Christ’s victory and “wait in joyful hope” for it to be completely realized on earth as it already is in heaven. Meanwhile the Eucharist is our strength and confirms us in saying: “One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord.”
Initiative: Be a prophet. Rejoice in Eucharist and draw strength from its promise of life here and hereafter.