Today’s feast is a offers an opportunity to pause and ask ourselves an obvious question, ‘Why do we do this?’ ‘Why do we gather on Sunday for Eucharist?’
Many of us are from a generation where we were told that it was a mortal sin not to! However, with Covid restrictions, the fact is that a lot of people have simply fallen out of the habit of “Mass” attendance. They haven’t been going and the sky didn’t fall in so why go?
The answer lies in looking at the opening line of the Gospel for today. “Jesus made the crowds welcome and talked to them about the Kingdom of God and he cured those who were in need of healing!”
Eucharist is the place where we are welcomed by the Lord. Eucharist is where the word of hope that is the Reign of God is shared with us. Eucharist is where we gather in our brokenness for healing.
This opening line in the Gospel sets the scene for everything that follows. We are indeed in a lonely place here, and that is precisely where Jesus meets us, aware of our need for nourishment in a world where our internet diet of social media and news feeds leaves us hungry for a word of hope that takes us beyond the endless blame games and point scoring that surround us. Jesus invites us to sit together, not in judgment of one another but simply aware of our need and he asks us to be open to the blessing he wishes to share with us.
Here we can eat and be satisfied because here we learn that the risen Christ is still present to us and wants us to live well in this world as his disciples, going out from our gathering to witness to the power of his love.
It is worth remembering that the reason Paul is reminding the Corinthians what happened at the last supper in today’s second reading is that they have forgotten the why of their gathering and instead their Eucharist has become a shambles where the poor are ignored, and petty divisions and pride are to the forefront. So, there is nothing “automatic” about our Sunday celebration of presence – we need to work at being together and to keep reminding ourselves of the why!