A Man For All Seasons

Father Jim Valk's picture

Father Jim Valk

June 3, 2013

A pastor went to a parishioners home for dinner. The wife put on a wonderful spread. At the end of the meal the Pastor said that he had never had a meal like this before. Piped up the youngest child- “neither have we”.

Meals are special times- time to be together, to catch up, to enjoy each other. But it seems like the traditional Sunday dinner has gone by the wayside. A survey asked people what three things they like to hear. The answer- I love you, I forgive you, INVITE ME TO DINNER.

Corpus Christi is about life and love. Jesus invites us to “dinner” in the Eucharist- together. Do you remember your First Communion? A child was asked what gospel story she liked best- the time the little kid shared his loaves and fishes with Jesus, he responded. How often we take this gift for granted. Do we understand its power to change our lives and the lives of others? Abraham Heschel told us not ask about the HOW of this gift but rather look at the WONDER of it, of God's love for us. It is Jesus saying that he will always be with us. We read in the Old Testament of Elijah who was on a mission from God to this people. He fell asleep and was awakened by an angel (wouldn't I like to see that!) who had prepared a meal for him- “get up and eat, said the angel, lest the journey be too long. Jesus is with us on our journey as well, on our all our ups and downs, in our dreams, our hopes and our longings.

Jesus gave over his life for us- he didn't give it up. Loving is not always to give up something for another but to give oneself. Jesus takes what we have we have and it is enough. Am I holding back anything in my relationship with others? Do I give my all in loving another? The story goes that Cain and Abel walked past the garden of Eden- now locked- and Abel said, there you go- Mom and Dad (Adam and Eve) ate us out of house and home. It has been said that the measure of love is to love without measure (St. Augustine). Jesus' hospitality is to give all and he makes it enough when we share. What is my hospitality like? Is there room, in my house and home for others? Do we know someone who is hungry who is less hungry now because we have shared, have reached out?

Jesus sees and responds to the needs of others. He remembers! To remember is to re-member, to put back together again. He believes in us and through his presence we have the power to make a difference in the lives of those around us. In the comic section of the newspaper PICKLES is feeding crumbs to the birds when a ‘hippie’ approaches and berates Pickles for giving food to the birds when people in Africa are starving. His answer- I can't throw that far. How far can we, are we willing to throw our love and concern for others?

St. Augustine said- Receive who you are! We are called to celebrate- with others- what we have received. Eucharist was not, is not, a private party- it is a gift to share. Eucharist is a gift for today. St. Augustine said it well: Lord, make me a saint but not today. We give Eucharist to one another when we respond to the needs, the hungers of others. I was told that Rembrandt, the painter, has a portrait of Jesus with a halo around his hands. We have holy hands when we reach out to touch, support and love others. As a child Mom could make pies to die for. One day after school there was one good slice left- it was mine! Unfortunately for me, my brother wanted some. After some wrangling Mom decided that I should cut the pie in two. If you haven't guessed it- I made one big piece and one smaller. As I went to take the bigger piece, Mom said, Jim, your brother can choose the first piece. In the Eucharist, God makes sure that we have enough. If we share from our hearts, it we come together, God will always make sure we have enough.

Albert Schweitzer said- I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know- the only ones among you who will be truly happy are those who sought and found how to serve others. Jesus came not to be served but to serve and to call us to that same way. Jesus tells us on this feast of Corpus Christi. You will never have a better meal. Come now. Take and eat lest your journey be too long for you.