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Without Sunday we cannot live because without Jesus we cannot live. We cannot live a Christian life without Christ himself – it is he we meet in the Holy Eucharist, it is he who transforms us into his image. Jesus repeats this central truth in our Gospel again today “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you”
It Jesus himself who gives us life in the Holy Eucharist. He comes close to us to be our friend and companion in life. HE wants to share in our lives and for us to share in his life. We invite those closest to us to share in the most important moments of our lives – baptisms, weddings, birthdays, Christmas and Thanksgiving. The most important event in the life of Jesus is his Death and Resurrection. In the Holy Mass Jesus invites us to be part of his passion and cross. How is this possible?
The Gospel we are reflecting on – John chapter 6 – began with the multiplication of the loaves. He heard the beginning of the Gospel about a month ago now. At that time, St. John mentions that the miracle of the multiplication took place at the time of the Passover.
The Passover was a very special feast for the jewish people – it recalled the escape from slavery in Egypt. The Jewish people would sacrifice and eat the paschal lamb – in the first Passover the Lamb’s blood was spread over the doorposts and protected the first born of the Israelites from dying. They recalled escaping Egypt, and crossing the red sea. The Passover was a special form of religious ceremony for the Jewish people. Not only did they remember events from the past – they relived these events as if they were happening right then and there. Any Jew who participated in the Passover considered himself as one of those who physically escaped Egypt and came into the promised land.
The first Eucharist, the last supper was during the Passover meal. While we have preached about this before, it is worth repeating and reviewing. During the last supper, Jesus creates a new Passover. This time it was not to recall the freedom from slavery in Egypt by means of the miracle at the red sea. Instead it would be to recall the freedom from slavery from sin and new life of the Holy Spirit that we receive through Christ’s death and resurrection. Instead of eating the flesh of the lamb – they would eat the flesh of Christ who would be sacrificed on the cross the next day. Just as the Isrealite who celebrated the Passover did not experience it as a remembrance of something that Happened in the past but as a reliving of these important moments in their history – So in the same way when we celebrate the Holy Mass, we are not merely recalling what Jesus did for us – it is as if we were with John and Mary below the cross, when we receive communion we are like Mary Magdelane meeting on Easter Morning the risen Lord. The Mass is not a commemoration of an important event – it is a mystical reliving of those events today.
When we invite friends to a special occasion, we invite them not just to sit and watch – we give them a special role – to do a reading, to stand as a witness, to cut the turkey. Jesus invites us to the Mass, he invites us to the cross not just as spectators, but as participants. Our faith tells us that Mary at the foot of the cross did not just watch Jesus die – she consciously offered to God her son and her own sufferings. In the Holy Mass, we are invited to offer our lives to God along with the Body and Blood of Christ. We can offer anything and everything except sin – our work well done, a wholesome and exciting family vacation, our sacrifices to pray, our fears and worries, our service to neighbours and friends.
Jesus invites us to be part of the most important moments in his life – his death and resurrection. These are also the most significant events our lives – by dying on the Cross Jesus manifests how great God’s love is for us, he forgives our sins. By rising from the dead he gives us new life and new hope. Without Sunday we cannot live because without the cross we cannot live.