“I am the bread of life.” (John 6:35) I’ll go out on a limb here and say that when a Catholic hears this statement of Jesus it’s my guess they immediately think of Eucharist, Communion, the Mass. We automatically associate Jesus with Sacrament.
What I’d like to say is there are times when we need Jesus to be more than bread of life. And this community is living through such a time. Trauma, tragedy, loss have come to us like a steamroller and our sharing with and caring for each other is making present, between and among us, Jesus who says, “I am…”
Jesus is the “I” who is so much more than bread of life. Think of it this way. When you recall a personal experience of trauma what mattered most to you? Again, my guess is it was the people who cared for you that mattered most. People who wrapped arms around you, people who offered light and hope when you were certain that light and hope was gone and vanished, people who stood by you – even when, perhaps, you pushed them away.
In that moment, in those trying times this person and these people were Jesus for you. Bread of life did not matter. The care that you experienced in the moment is Jesus saying, “I am with you.”
The fact is the Gospel of John is full of “I am” statements. Jesus says “I am the vine” (15:5), “I am the door” (10:7), “I am the Way” (14:6). And when they came in the night to arrest him and Jesus asked who they were looking for he says, “I am he.” (18:5) It is clear that Jesus is more than bread of life. He is in and among us in every little and big act of kindness, lifting up, and full embrace. Lately, in our community whether literally or spiritually we are giving full hugs to Alice and to Frankie. I responded yesterday to Alice that aren’t we blessed as pastors of a community whose members are fully capable of and willing to minister to the ministers. This is the experience of I am – Jesus who is so much more than bread of life.
Acknowledging this presence of Christ in these daily deeds of love and kindness allows us to faithfully consider Eucharist. When it is cleat that Jesus is here and now among us then what is Eucharist? I’ll offer to you what it is not. It’s not an object that does something to us. It’s not what the Bread & Wine do to us or even for us. It’s what we do to the bread and the wine.
We offer, we share, we eat and drink symbols of the presence of Jesus who is “I am” all the time. We speak words that have come to us through the ages, words of “Take and eat, this is my body,” “Take and drink; this is my blood.” When we speak we transform bread and wine because we have been Jesus all along. Yes, Eucharist is memorial – and we have come to ee that the memorial is of all those acts of kindness of our everyday living. And sometimes those acts of kindness are heroic.
Eucharist in our time is not some object to be worshipped and adored. It’s not a transubstantiated object that used to be one thing and now is another. And Eucharist certainly is not something that is dependent upon one man saying certain words to make Jesus present. We are the word, we are the people, “We are” just as Jesus is “I am.”
Jim We are made in your image, Creator God. The love we show is from our hearts, on our minds, and in our spirits. This is divine love, the presence of Yahweh, I AM, among us. This morning we need you to be more than Bread of Life and Wine of Salvation. We need you to gather us, to hold us, especially those who are most in need for you to be who you are: the All-loving One whose presence is with us every day, every moment a moment of grace.
All Renew us with that spiritual revolution of becoming a new self in the justice and the holiness of truth, All Holy and All Loving Trinity of love and life. Amen.