There is a hymn for our Night Prayer of the Church that I really like. It goes like this: ‘The sun that bids us rest is waking, our brethren ‘neath the western sky, and hour by hour fresh lips are making, thy wondrous doings heard on high.’
This just goes to show that every hour, every minute there are people in different parts of the world praising, thanking God. This just goes to show that we are all one in prayer to God, no matter who we are and wherever we are. This is also the same thing in our celebration of the Eucharist. No matter where we are, whatever time it is, or whatever language we are using, we are all one in celebration of the One Sacrifice of Christ.
This goes to say that we who are here today as a worshipping community celebrating the Eucharist is the concrete realization of Jesus’ word in the gospel today: ‘Unless a grain of wheat falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest’ that can sustain everyone and which can be enjoyed by everyone. Every Eucharistic celebration therefore, wherever in the world it may be, or whatever people celebrating it, is all participation of the One sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, and a celebration of his resurrection as well. If Jesus didn’t die, we would not have universal celebration for his sacrifice. If he didn’t rise again, we also didn’t have reason to celebrate this Eucharist. Francis Moloney, puts it rightly when he says: ‘Our Eucharistic celebration proves that Jesus’ lifting up’ and his falling into the ground in death has gathered the nations scattered around the world.’
It is therefore our call, our duty or responsibility if you like to make our Eucharistic Celebration, an expression of our concrete and personal commitment to Christ. How can we do this?
Like the Greeks in our gospel, let’s do our best to ‘see Jesus.’ In the gospel of John seeing Jesus means ‘believing in Jesus’ For Mother Teresa seeing Jesus is embracing the poorest of the poor. For her, to see Jesus is to see through our fellow human being. So perhaps we can ask ourselves ‘Why do I believe in Christ?’ Then it is to be followed by another question: ‘How am I expressing this Christian belief in my life?’
However, it is also important to understand that we can’t do it on our own. More so, we can’t make it happen. Only God can make it happen. It is because faith is a gift. But there’s the rub here. The Greeks in our gospel went through the Apostles. In our case, this means, we go through the Church. Some of us might say, we don’t need the Church, because we believe in Christ anyway. But it is important to remember that Christ and the Church are two sides of one coin, according to Archbishop Tim Costelloe. When he gave a talk to the young people in Melbourne about three years ago, the then Bishop Tim notes that a coin with only one side is of no value at all. It is true. I also like the image of an isolated ember in the fire place. The ones burning together can go on and give warm to the whole place, but the one apart would eventually fade and extinguish. Even St Paul would affirm this when he speaks of Christ as the head of his Body the Church- and because we only have one Christ thus, we are to be united in and with him as well.
Our first Reading today also offers us another way to make our commitment to Christ personal and concrete. The prophet Jeremiah speaks of God himself writing his law within us, in our hearts. God has written his covenant within us, so no matter how much we deny or ignore it, it’s always there. We can know this when we feel drawn to do something good or noble towards other people or toward something, but we can’t explain why. The concrete experience of this is when we feel in love. We just couldn’t explain why do we fall in love. The two people who are in love don’t need to know why they are in love, they just enjoy it and celebrate it together by being faithful to one another. This is also our call- to be FAITHFUL to God. This must lead us then to ask ourselves: ‘How faithful are we to our God who is dwelling within us?’
SO as we continue our Lenten journey, let’s keep reviewing our lives and trying to make the good better and make the better best. How committed are we to see Jesus? How faithful are we to God and his Church? They are big questions because there is always a temptation that our being a Christian is already enough. We have to overcome the temptation telling us that WE CAN’T do it. We can. It is only that sometimes or oftentimes WE JUST WON’T DO IT. Now is the time to respond to God’s invitation to lose our lives in order to gain them.
I particularly relate to the story about the coals needing to be with each other to gain heat. Fr Rob has told us about this a few times on our Stronger Retreats.
What a truly thought-provoking homily.
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