Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Homily at Holy Spirit Catholic Community, Mass of the Lord's Supper, March 24, 2016

So much in our life revolves around meals.
This past Tuesday I went to Claver House for my morning coffee.
We talked about the awful terrorism in Belgium.
John was back, after a bout in the hospital,
and we were all glad to see him again.
We did a bit of prognosticating on the NCAA brackets.
We prayed the Lord's Prayer
and broke bread together;
everyone was welcome.
Then I drove down to the Cathedral for the annual Chrism Mass,
where I stood in the back of the nave
in the shadow of a pillar
and renewed my priestly promises
along with my brother priests.
I left early, though, because the message in that ritual was clear:
it was all about who was greater than who,
who was more important.
I was not welcome at the table there.
One of the most enduring memories
kept alive by Jesus' first followers
was his practice of open table fellowship:
eating and drinking with everyone,
sharing meals without regard for social class
or the rules that divide people and set one over another.
Our scriptures give us snapshots of those memories—
Jesus at the Cana wedding feast;
with the crowds on the mountain and on the plain;
with Mary and Martha and Lazarus in their home;
at the house of Levi the tax collector and of Simon the leper;
with his disciples walking through the standing grain.
The Gospel writers
framed those important memories of Jesus' teaching
and passed them along
by means of the story of the supper
he shared with them on the night before he died,
the meal we now know as the “Last Supper.”
The synoptic Gospels
have Jesus using the bread and wine of the Shabbat meal
to show that they must use up their lives
by letting others consume them.
In John's Gospel,
Jesus washes the disciples' feet
and tells them to do the same for each other.
The message of the foot-washing
is the same message
as the sharing of bread and wine.
Both actions tell the same truth:
that the purpose of life,
the thing that gives greatest glory to God,
is to serve others.
What was it
that made Jesus' first followers keep on following
after he was crucified?
In their world of poverty and oppression,
his message of love and sharing and service
made sense.
Bit by bit they found that his teaching was true.
It showed them a God they could trust,
a God who cared for them.
It gave them life.
Why do we—
those of us who keep following Jesus,
even after 20 centuries—
why do we keep our faith?
The ways of our world—
the greed, the violence, the selfishness—
do not make sense.
The ways of our institutional church—
the scandals and the cover-ups,
the medieval mindset,
the exclusionary practices—
do not make sense.
But we keep the faith
because the message of Jesus
makes sense.
It works for us
to be grateful for the Holy Mystery
in which we live and move and have our being.
It works for us to give our lives to others,
starting with our parents and spouses and children
and reaching out to friends and co-workers and strangers
and even enemies.
So we keep the faith.
On this holy night once again we remember.
Just like Jesus did,
we celebrate our gratitude for God's goodness.
Just like Jesus did,
we give our lives in service to others.
And like Jesus,
we understand that we are in unrelenting communion,
a constant, perpetual Holy Communion,
a cosmic communion with all that is—
with every person, creature, plant, animal,
and star in the universe—
and with God.
Here we are tonight,
gathered in community
in a place where all are welcome at the table.
We are in communion.
Let us celebrate once again
by washing each other's hands
and by sharing the bread of life and the cup of salvation.

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m./Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
Holy Thursday, March 24, 5:30 p.m.
Holy Saturday, March 26, 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006

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