17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: July 29, 2018
St. Augustine in the church before the Blessed Sacrament on the Altar would say to the people, “Become what you see, Be what you receive.” Each time we celebrate this Eucharist we are challenged to become what we see and be what we receive. The Body of Christ. What kind of life, what vision of humanity does the Eucharist call us to live?
Last week I saw a car with the license plate, “JESUSNMe”. Yes, each of us is called to a personal relationship with Jesus. We are to be intimate friends of Jesus. But it is inadequate if it reflects a narrow individualistic vision of humanity. Christianity offers a vision of humanity which is communal, we do not go through life as disconnected individuals on the way to heaven myself. We go through life united as brothers and sisters on our way to that great heavenly banquet.
In the Gospel story of the multiplication of the loaves, Jesus sees the hungry crowds and asks his disciples to feed them. They take what little they have, that does not seem to be enough. But, working together with Jesus, they provide enough for all, no one is left out. This miracle, like the Eucharist, offers a vision of humanity. Human beings are fundamentally created by God to be in communion with each other, to share, to work for a common good. In this sharing we find our happiness and peace as human beings and as a human family.
Not surprising that the Eucharist, the greatest prayer of the Church, is in the context of a meal. Meals and banquets are times of sharing, in a truly human way. A survey of teenagers many years ago indicated that teenagers who live in families that share a meal together 5 or more times a week have fewer criminal issues and do better in school. Teenagers in families that share one or less meals a week have more issues with crime, do less well in school.
Our modern commercial advertising industry has worked very hard for many decades now to convince us that human beings are selfish by nature. Advertising in all its forms has made a great effort to convince us to go shopping, to get more, to be rooted in our lowest selfish instincts. To get what I want and forget about what others need. But the Christian vision of humanity revealed in Jesus and reflected in the Eucharist says that we human beings were created by nature to share, to care for others.
Bringing happiness to others increases your chance of being happy, seeking happiness only for yourself decreases those chances.
A consumer vision of society wants to convince us to be selfish, to get what you want and ignore the needs of others. The result of such a vision is that many are left out.
A Christian vision of society, seen in the Eucharist, calls us to be people who share, who care for each other. The result of this vision is in the multiplication of the loaves, there is enough for all. No one is left out.
St. Augustine says, “Become what you see”. In this Eucharist what do we see? A people gathered at a Sacred Meal, in communion with Jesus and one another as brothers and sisters. A people who are all equal and all to share in the life of God.
Imagine a world, imagine a country, imagine a city, imagine a family, where each see other as one family, where we see all children as our children. Where we try to share with each other so that there is enough for all and no one is left out. Then we would be faithful to the vision of this Eucharist.