In the Name of God, who is revealed to us in the one who broke bread, was crucified and buried.
Tonight we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist. As people of faith exploring the Divine according to Catholic traditions and rituals, we are often called a Eucharistic people. A people that have been called forth by God to become, to be, the Body and Blood of the Eternal Christ in the world around us. This calling should not be taken lightly nor is it simply a theological formulation that is no earthly good.
As matter of fact, being a Eucharistic people is all about being earthly good. It is the holy process of taking on the nature of Christ so that God may intervene in this world in a way that is challenging, justice oriented and full of hope.
2,000 years ago Jesus of Nazareth walked this earth in a way that was radically unexpected. He engaged in public conversations with women who were deemed by religion to be unworthy of acknowledgment. He encouraged unruly children to flock around him, unconcerned if their behavior happened to upset the proper adults. He called as his personal disciples both the married and unmarried, women and men, young and old, the intelligent and the unassuming, those deeded holy and even those who would betray him. He attended wedding feasts on a dime and was even known to make it possible for the drunken revelry to go late into the evening and early morning hours. Jesus was at home at sharing dinner with thieves, adulterers and fornicators. Actually he not only shared dinner with the “un-holy,” he never called them un-holy nor did he ever categorize them as other or beneath him or lacking. He simply broke bread, leaned back and shared the love of God with anyone who would listen.
Yes, Jesus was so radical – so inclusive – so loving – that the people around him came to know him as the Eternal Christ, God’s own child sent to this world to reveal God’s ways. However, Jesus wasn’t really a philosopher, he wasn’t a member of a judicial or political party and he didn’t seek to change the world through lofty rhetoric from high places. Instead, Jesus revealed Divine love through concrete actions. Love was found in his face as he laughed with women who no one would speak to. Love was displayed in his actions as he held children who many thought should be hidden and silenced. He distributed love as he shared his own bread with anyone who was hungry and needing a friend. This is the Jesus we find in the Holy Eucharist we celebrate this evening. This is the Jesus, the Eternal Christ, we are called to become this evening and each and every day of our lives.
Sadly, the very faith that carries the name of Jesus Christ has often failed at being a Eucharistic people. As the baptized, our calling is to symbolize the Body and Blood of Christ - to make it known - to make it real in this world. However, in recent weeks we have witnessed our Christian neighbors, across this country, fighting for laws that would allow the discrimination of our LGBT friends and family, the discrimination of our Islamic brothers and sisters and the discrimination of any minority group, including women.
This thirst for the ability to discriminate has been justified in the name of Jesus Christ, in the name of God. It is a search of selfish desperation, rooted in doctrines of ignorance, to be able to refuse dinner to the hungry and to say no to the invitation to celebrate wedded bliss.
Conversely, in tonight’s reading of the Good News we find no discrimination. Rather we are reminded that Jesus, the very person that Christians invoke as Savior, never discriminated and instead embraced all. Jesus instituted the Eucharist during the Passover Meal, that in and of itself tells us that women and children were present in the Upper Room. The Passover Meal could not be held without all God’s children represented.
So tonight we witness Jesus breaking the bread and pouring a cup forth not only for 12 men but for their wives and their children. Jesus shares the tangible realities of God’s love, in the form of bread and wine, with all gathered - no matter their gender, age, orientation or life background. If they will receive, Jesus will give - even to the very one who will betray him. This is the love of the one we call the Christ. A love that knows no boundaries - even in the midst of facing persecution and death. A love that gives and gives and gives.
In this truth, tonight, we share this sacred Mass with all who have gathered. Unlike some who would claim their God demands that they refuse to share with others, to serve others, or to celebrate with others - we follow in the footsteps of Jesus and accept our calling as a Eucharistic people. Tonight we are reminded of the mandate of the Eternal Christ: "Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
Are we Christ’s disciples? Are we a Eucharistic people?
If we are, we may never allow ourselves to discriminate. Instead, we must reveal love though concrete actions to the least of these and especially to those who society would rather silence and put away.
Our calling as Eucharistic people demands that we, like Jesus, seek after justice and equality for all God’s people. Anything less is to crucify Christ ourselves, to seek the silencing of God’s demand for justice and to ignore the one who died in order that we might truly live. In this last meal, Jesus calls us to share with all and to be willing to love even unto the point of death. If you dare to do so, the divine promise of resurrection is yours.