On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, Jesus' disciples said to him, "Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?" He sent two of his disciples and said to them, "Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him. Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, 'The Teacher says, "Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?"' Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there." The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover. While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, "Take it; this is my body." Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God." Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Mark 14:12-16, 22-26.
To be human is to live with hunger. While it may not be gnawing at you right now, give it a little time. Miss a few meals. It will become the focus of every thought and action. But that is as it should be. Appetites are a gift from God. They are a signal of need that enables our survival, as individuals and as a species. They are also a reflection of “the great hunger” –our yearning for life’s meaning, our fear of mortality, our longing to fill the vast hole in our souls. More persistent than every other appetite, “the great hunger” cries out for nourishment.
The very good news of today’s gospel is that God’s bounty is on tap 24/7. He wants us to feast at his banquet – to fill the hole in our souls, to find meaning in life, to transcend mortality and find eternal happiness in him. In communion today he invites us to share the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation.
On the cross Christ gave up his body and blood so that we could have everlasting life. And on the night before he died, Jesus gave us the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist so we could capture that sacrificial moment, keep it fresh and draw strength and inspiration in its repeated celebration. He gave us this vehicle of grace so that untold generations could share in the very same “Forever Bread” that fortified the apostles.
But first, before we come to his table, there are some necessary preliminaries. We must scrub up, examining our lives, purging any and all impediments to complete communion with Christ. Throw away sin; then throw your heart into the mass. Prayer is the starter for his feast. It can be small talk or it can be profound. Bring your troubles to the altar. Give them to Jesus. Get comfortable talking with God. Become a good listener. It just takes practice.
Like any good meal, our Communion is not just an ingestion of calories. It is a total experience: receiving Christ, sharing him, celebrating the feast and giving thanks for God’s goodness. There is something uniquely unifying about our celebration. At our Savior’s bidding, we come to the altar as brothers and sisters in Christ. There is one bread and we are all one body. We share one cup. We are Corpus Christ – the Body of Christ – nourished by him, living in him. Bring him your fears and your hungers. Name them, lay them out before him. Come as a child to a loving parent who has just called you home for dinner. Find communion with Christ. You will not go away hungry.
God love you!