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Monday, June 8, 2015

In the Breaking of the Bread: The Life of Christ is Magnified in the Feast

Christ is thrilling. Thrilling and amazing and beyond the sum of all worth! Its hard to admit, but its a reminder we sometimes need. We are reprimanded often, as Christians, for going on and on about the life of Christ. We are told that we're worn-out records. Old news! Like, those story's were hot 2000 years ago! But it's a poor mentality that treats the Source and Summit of creation as if somehow we can exhaust things to say about him. We kinda act like it, though. We sheepishly accept our admonishments from believes and non-believers alike when they come. As if there is something more to life than adoring him!

But Tori Long know's what's up. Over at Pink-Haired Papist, she reminds us that the saving mystery of Jesus' life is NOT boring.
Jesus transformed, Jesus terrified, Jesus uplifted, and Jesus unsettled. Jesus was so wildly loved that His Apostles were consistently frazzled trying to keep Him safe from pressing crowds; He Himself often retreated into solitude and silence to avoid crowds. He was so powerful that He stirred a deep and unshakeable fear in the hearts of the religious elite of His time, so much so that they convinced a mob to elect to kill Him. He performed miracles. He made wild claims. He boldly proclaimed a kingdom, a dawn of hope, and a coming judgment -- and onlookers hung on every word.
 How can we say enough? How can we act with our blushes and hung heads and uncomfortable squiggling that the critics are right?

He isn't boring, and neither is His Eucharistic self. But remembering that is hard. What is Bread to transfigured robes of purest white and meeting Moses and Elijah? Is a priest holding unleavened bread at the alter as awesome as Jesus scaring the crud outta disciples by walking on water? How many challenges does His Eucharistic self make to the men hefting stones? There is so much we say about him as he is present in the Eucharist today.

But how He acts within the world now is harder to see. That's probably why I'm often guilty of having my eyes glazing over and head wander at mass, "I wonder what station I'll be assigned at work today..." As if dishes and fries are more important than preparing to receive! It's not even that His divinity is far from my mind, but subconsciously I'm treating my God as a has-been. I know this is Christ, I know this is the One Who died for unworthy me in faraway, ancient times. I just don't always remember what it means to be connected with Him today.

Sometimes at mass, when I catch myself thinking or worrying more than giving up my worries to him, I can redirect my thoughts to be a surrender. Sometimes, I muscle through my brain's flightiness. But what works most of all remembering what it means to receive His body.

One of the glorious miracles we hear about in Matthew 14:13-21 is the feeding of the multitude: But He ever stopped being bread for the hungry? Jesus resides now in every tabernacle across the earth, to be placed on the tongues of countless many. And this Bread that we eat is food for the soul that no one else can give!

He is the God who comes down to the leper: Matthew 8:2-4 has one of my favorite stories. I loved hearing how Jesus not only spoke to the outcast, sick man, but actually reached out to touch and heal him! Our malady of sin is far deadlier than leprosy; it has the potential to make us castaways, not just form society, but from grace. And yet, in His kindness, He reaches out to heal and strengthen us. To eat his flesh and drink his blood is to be in communion with Jesus. To knowingly receive him accept a kiss from our Lord!

We are made participants at his table: At the Last Supper, Our Lord told us, "This is my body, which will be given for you;" and were instructed, "Do this in memory of me." (Luke 22:19) When the priest prays the words of the consecration at mass, he isn't just praying a rote, boring prayer that shish-boom-bang results in a tiny, cracker-Jesus. He is immersing himself, and the congregation, in that painful night of Christ's life.

Participating in the mass is to sit beside the Apostles. We are with Him in His celebration and His laughter. We are witnessing the intense pre-struggle before the cross. We are being given Christ's parting gift before the turmoil of Calvary, along with beloved men who He reclined at table with. It's to rest your head on the bosom of Christ like John. It's to declare, with Peter, that we would never deny Our Lord. We are seeing a chance to sneak away like Judas, and instead raising a glass and laughing with our Lord. Laughing and loving... And it's the actual sacrifice one day later: Our priests hold the body of Christ, literally, in their hands.

In this day, after the Passion of Christ, we are also closely connected to His glorified self. It is breaking of the bread that His disciples recognized Him after the Resurrection! They saw Him, and were amazed and I think this means quite a lot. To me, it means that the marvels of His 30s are an appetizer for His 2000s. The miracles of Jesus don't just continue, but grow. The Eucharist is the magnification of all his Earthly acts of love encountered over and over.

The grace dispensed to the faithful who come to the table of this Miracle Maker has been saturating our world for generations, "... and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father." It is because Christ is fully united with the Father in heaven, and we to Him by His flesh, that our world is in for a transformation. Not only are the signs of the Eucharist greater, but his Christians shall be empowered to greater deeds, too. The signs of the saints? We don't have to wonder what tricked out super-drug they are on! Imagine, just for a moment, what this grace will do if we let it.

Every encounter with his Most Sacred Body should be to us a feast, a healing, an embrace, a farewell, a reunion, and a kick-butt power up to change the world. This Sacred Bread is our everything, and I look on Him, now, in awe.

**updated 6/18/15 for typographical errors**

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