“Good and gracious God, you invite us to recognize and reverence your divine image and likeness in our neighbor. Enable us to see the reality of racism and free us to challenge and uproot it from our society, our world, and ourselves.”
What have the last two weeks been like for you? What thoughts and feelings have come up inside you? The last two weeks have left me feeling much sadness, powerlessness and fear. I’ve been overwhelmed by the acts of violence, looting and vandalism. I am deeply grieved every time I see the video or pictures of George Floyd. I also saw some brief moments of hope in the videos of peaceful protestors, police officers kneeling before protesters and even police officers dancing together with protesters in a spontaneous moment of levity in the streets.
As a faith community grounded in social justice, Holy Family Parish joins with the larger Church celebrating the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. It is a feast for hungry people in a hungry world. A feast that believes everyone is looking for something that will sustain and nourish their life, something that will feed and energize them, and something that will fill and satisfy them. Everyone is looking for this kind of bread. The problem is not that we are all hungry, but that the kind of bread we eat may not truly satisfy. The world is full of bread that promises to fill us, but far too often leaves us hungry, empty and searching. It is a reminder that not all bread can give real and sustaining life. Perishable bread nourishes only a perishable life. It leaves us wanting only for more and more of the same.
We believe that the food which endures is truly Jesus himself. Jesus is the bread that is broken and distributed for the life of the world. Jesus is the bread that is broken and yet never divided. Jesus is the bread that is broken and yet never exhausted. Jesus is the bread that is broken that truly nourishes those who believe in and eat of him. When we believe in Jesus, the act of eating, ingesting and taking of him into our lives nourishes us and sustains us as we start living differently. We begin to see ourselves and one another as persons created in the image and likeness of God rather than as obstacles or issues to be overcome. We trust the silence of prayer rather than the words of argument. We choose love and forgiveness rather than anger and retribution. We relate with intimacy and vulnerability rather than superficiality and defensiveness. We listen for God’s voice rather than our own. Ultimately, we seek life rather than death.
Throughout the gospels, we see Jesus feeding and nourishing life in so many ways and circumstances: through his love, presence, guidance and teaching; through his healing, forgiveness and mercy; through his generosity, compassion and wisdom. This is the bread that feeds the soul. The corollary question today is this: When have you been bread in someone else’s life? When have you fed and nourished others? When have you sustained others? When have you strengthened others? Jesus is offering us the gift of solidarity with himself and one another. Jesus is the imperishable bread that nourishes and sustains an imperishable life. Jesus is making us the same offer. He offers himself to us in every one of our relationships: family, friends, strangers, enemies, those who agree with us and those who disagree.
In every situation and each day of our life we must choose the bread we eat, perishable or imperishable. The bread we choose to eat says something about our appetite and what we hunger for. If we want new life, then we need to be eating the bread of new life. If we want to bring new life to one another, then we need to be the bread of life. I pray that we at Holy Family Parish will walk in solidarity with people of every race, class, and culture in repentance, forgiveness and healing. Let us hunger and thirst for the real bread and precious blood of compassion, justice and peace.
What kind of bread are you eating today? Does it fill and nourish you? Or does it leave you hungry and malnourished? Is it sustaining and enduring or has it become hard and dry? What’s your hunger? What kind of bread will you eat this week? What kind of bread will you be for another this week?
“Heavenly Father, in our efforts to dismantle racism, we understand that we struggle not merely against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities – those institutions and systems that keep racism alive by perpetuating the lie that some members of the family are inferior and others superior. Create in us a new mind and heart that will enable us to see brothers and sisters in the faces of those divided by racial categories. Give us the grace and strength to rid ourselves of racial stereotypes that oppress some of us while providing entitlements to others. Help us to create a church and a nation that embraces the hopes and fears of oppressed people of color where we live, as well as those around the world. Heal your family God, and make us one with you, in union with our brother Jesus, and empowered by your Holy Spirit. Amen.”