Friday, June 21, 2019

Our Daily Bread

Dear Friends,

Jesus, I think, was very clever.

He used the ordinary things of life in such extraordinary ways that you and I can never quite use them in ordinary ways again.

Take bread for example. “Give us this day our daily bread,” Jesus teaches us to pray (Matthew 6.11). Our daily bread is the encouraging word, the news that warring parties in distant lands have laid down their arms, the Eucharist in which we partake, the insight we come to, the touch of love. Our daily bread.

Jesus is himself our daily bread. “I am the bread of life,” he tells us (Jn.6.34-35). “No one who comes to me will ever be hungry.” No one. No one will ever be hungry.

I have a feeling that Jesus threw us a curve with that one. We tend to want to take him literally – but we know better. Hunger exists. Hunger has many faces. Sometimes when we are restless or feel lonely, misguided or very small, we are hungry for something we don’t have in a literal sense. But if we believe that Jesus spoke the truth, then we are indeed being fed all along by our God, but don’t necessarily recognize it. The Bread of Life will feed us. We are sustained by the Bread of Life.

Isaiah’s words are the same as Christ’s promise to us: “The Lord will give you the bread you need” (Isaiah 30.20). To you, to me, to everyone without exception.

Jesus gives himself to us at Eucharist. His Body and Blood take over the perceived bread and wine and He becomes food and drink to nourish us daily and through life. That is what we celebrate on this feast of Corpus Christi – the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. Moreover, as Pope Leo the Great put it in the fifth century, “Our sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ has no other purpose than to transform us into that which we receive.”  Today, we celebrate the feast of our being transformed into Christ if we allow it and welcome it.

We could spend time over the question, “How can this be?” More to the point, let us be glad today that our God is a creative God, who does the unthinkable, the unimaginable so that we may be nourished for the journey and that our own imaginations may lead us to new ways of nourishing others in the Name of God.

“Taste and see the Goodness of the Lord,” we pray.

~Sister Joan Sobala

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Mirroring God

Dear Friends,

One Easter Sunday, the parents of a parishioner where I served came from my home town of Lackawanna NY to Mass. They came bearing a wedding picture I had never seen before. “Did I know anyone in the photo?” they asked. My eyes passed over the bride and groom, others seated and standing around them, and there- at the end of the second row, I saw my grandfather, my Dziadzia, as I called him in Polish. I knew him immediately, even though Dziadzia was 55 years old and balding when I was born. I never knew this handsome young man with a dignified air, but I recognized him, just as each of us recognizes people who are not physically present to us – the voice on the phone, the distinctive laugh, the long lost cousin, the person in our dreams, the soul-mate we discovered in a letter or across the Internet or across the room.

Today is the feast of recognizing the God in whom we live and move and have our being. We celebrate the Trinity – the fullness of God whom we worship but who is beyond our grasp – God whom Jesus reveals to Nicodemus in today’s Gospel, the God who walks with Moses in the first reading – the truth of God, made evident by the Holy Spirit.

So often in our lives, we make a tidy package of what we know about God, or ourselves or other people for that matter. Satisfied, we put that tiny package on a shelf with a sense of finality. Plop! There it is to gather dust! And we go about our lives.

 “She’s always been like that,” we say.  “He can’t possibly change.” “You did what?” But the Spirit of Truth cautions us. Never say “never.”(never say “always”, for that matter.)  If there is life, there is  newness. Through all the welcomed, tolerated, unwanted events of life, through our delights and sufferings, endurance and hope, you and I are being drawn more deeply into the life of God: Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier. We are not being invited just to gaze on God. We are called into the very Heart of God – to be one with God. Throughout our lives, we are surrounded, sustained and encouraged by a God whose very nature is to share.

To put it another way, the Christian doctrine of the Trinity not only teaches us something about the nature of God, but it tells us who we are. Our lives are interwoven with the very life of God and when we are at our best, we mirror God’s life of interdependence and unconditional love.

Today, let us give ourselves up to the celebration of God who loves us so thoroughly and well.

-Sister Joan Sobala