•Exodus 24: 3-8 * Hebrews 9: 11-15 * Mark 14: 12-16, 22-26•
Scripture Readings:Body and Blood of Christ
The events now referred to as “9/11” were not the worst thing that ever happened in the annals of history! Whether it was the worst thing that ever happened to these United States of America or not, it replaced Pearl Harbor in our national memory because it served a new purpose. “911” was manipulated to provide license to set aside any sense of morality and international law. I bring our response to “9/11” before us hoping it will help us ponder the significance of Eucharist.
Eucharist is our great Prayer of Thanksgiving. Eucharist is the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ. . If you remember our catechism definition of “sacrament,” you know “a sacrament” is an outward sign of an inner reality.
We take a loaf of bread, break and eat it. We take a cup of wine, pour and drink it. I believe there is something more here than we can see. I believe the Risen Christ is present to us through this sacrament, though I don’t know how.
I believe we are part of a reality far larger than us. Around this Table of Eucharist, as we eat and drink the life of the Risen One, we become what we eat and drink. We are the Living Body of Christ for the life of the world! That is the reality larger than us.
The community we know as “Christian” began as a movement within Judaism. After his death and resurrection, the followers of the Risen One intended to follow and imitate Jesus. They sought to continue his work of overcoming evil and welcoming “God’s new reality.” They did so within the Jewish community even as minor tremors shook both communities.
Eventually there was a major earthquake within Judaism. The shared tradition and relationship binding Christian Judaism and Rabbinic Judaism fractured. The two communities moved away from one another. In every generation since, after shocks have kept us apart.
Earthquakes occur when large sections of the earth’s surface known as tectonic plates float and move. This generates physical pressures, sometimes causing fractures, and the Earth quakes. “911” was a moral and spiritual earthquake.
We live in a Secular Age. The concept “secular” is neither good nor bad. However this Secular Age has produced a profound shift and movement within “Christianity.” We see it in “911.”
This is what I mean. When Jesus of Nazareth exorcised a demoniac in the synagogue of Capernaum, his clear intent was to eradicate evil. He and his closest companions lived in a world of imperial brutality. Crucifixions were common. The one dimension of his life and teaching that was most difficult for his companions and generations since was his radical nonviolence.
Consider that within the context of our national response to the catastrophe known as “9/11.” In response our nation resorted to the organized killing of strangers. Since then, it is as if our nation is stuck in and being swallowed by quicksand. First there was the invasion and destruction if Iraq. Then there was the CIA’s use of torture. When it was reported that Osama bin Laudin had been murdered by a team of Seals, there was dancing and celebrating in taverns and on streets across this land. What went wrong? I think the meaning of Christ has been shattered.
Today we ponder the Eucharist we eat and drink. It is nourishment for our deepest truth and reality. We are the Living Body of Christ. Our task, like that of Jesus, is to overcome evil and welcome “God’s new reality.” However our world is complicated and few things are simple.
Terrorism, violence and our nation’s brutality are real. But the truth of who we are is simple and clear. Christ has no body now, but us. No hands, no feet, no vocal cords, but ours. We are the Living Body of Christ. Eat and drink Eucharist so you will have the courage to persist in your efforts to imitate Christ especially in this Secular Age in which we live.