PARTS I & II are presentations by Mary and Joe Burke who, with Jim Ewens, attended recently attended the gathering of Intentional Eucharist Communities in Minneapolis. Jim also shared his thoughts with the community. After you read what Mary & Joe have passed along to us, please join in the discussion.
PART I. Mary Burke’s comments on the Intentional Eucharistic Communities conference – 7/26/15
As you all know we each have different gifts and preaching is not one of mine, but I’m good at giving ideas with the hopes of stimulating different thoughts. My part of this homily is to take a phrase I heard at the IEC conference and apply it to today’s readings.
Roger Haight was one of the Plenary Speakers and the idea that struck me was that we are both a CLIENT and an APPRENTICE. At one time or another in our lives we have been a client for various reasons: emotional, financial situations, turmoil from grief or addictions, household, educational, medical difficulties. As client we seek guidance and
direction from someone, or just need support from someone. Jesus is the one who offers us his service, “Come to me all of you who are burdened”.
Now if we take the apprentice issue, Jesus said, “Come follow me”. In other words He will take us under his wing and lead us. I now take today’s readings and apply the client/apprentice idea so that I am left with thoughts to ponder for the week.
In Kings we hear that a man brought barley bread to Elisha. Elisha then shared it with the people so he could satisfy those who needed food. The man not only brought baked barley bread which was an immediate satisfaction, but “some heads of new grain” which we can interpret as seed, so that in times to come food will still be bountiful.
The apprentice part I see is that in sharing we give what we have even though we feel it is not enough. The apprentice has faith that there is always an abundance.
In Ephesians St Paul urges us to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. To me, this is the calling of Baptism. Jesus also demonstrated for us over and over that he was a risk taker and willing to include the people that are marginal even if there are differences of culture, gender, sexual preferences or physical or mental appearances.
The feeding of the five thousand in the Gospel gives us many examples of apprentice qualities. Jesus went up the mountainside – to me this means to take time away from it all, enjoy nature.Jesus saw all the people and had compassion. He said, “have the people sit down”. Sometimes we can have solutions even though it may seem like a little solution, but eventually it can help a multitude. Jesus gave thanks. Gratitude is always a priority. Jesus distributed, gave away, shared. He started with what the people had. Jesus said, “gather the pieces, let nothing be wasted”. We are to be grateful for abundance and use our resources wisely. Don’t take for granted what is given us. Jesus knowing what he was going to do…again withdrew. Sometimes we may know what may happen if we take a stance, but we need to take care of our needs too. We are to have humility. In this coming week I hope you think about your roll as client and your roll as apprentice in both your physical and spiritual lives.
PART II. Joe Burke’s comments on the Intentional Eucharistic Communities conference – 7/26/15
Today’s Gospel tells about the greatest picnic in Scripture, and relates to us that, “There is no lack of abundance with God” – And I add to this that there is no lack of abundance in the Eucharist. Most of us were brought up with the belief that through the priest Jesus came down from heaven into the bread and wine to feed us who were empty and unworthy.
The people I witnessed at the Intentional Eucharistic Communities gathering have evolved to a more developed consciousness of Eucharist and are being transformed by their actions. They have a sense of community, meaning that we are all interconnected to one another and to those outside of our community as well. This means that we are tied to the poor, to the rich, to those who agree with us and to those who don’t. We are interconnected with those that love us and those that hate us. These communities are in chaos, but they trust that order will come to them from within because this is a basic theory of quantum physics. Science and religion are merging.
There is an inner energy at work in these communities. Call it Spirit if you wish, but it is powerful, and it is at work. Here is a scientific example of what I am talking about: Two identical beakers were filled with the water from the same source. Positive thinking, loving people were placed around one beaker of water, while the other was circled by negative, angry people. The water was frozen and the ice crystals were examined. Remember, the water was the same in each but the results now show one with beautiful hexagon crystals and the other with clumps.
The energy, or Spirit, coming from these Intentional Communities is as powerful and transforming as the beautiful water crystals just mentioned. The Eucharist flows from Jesus’ table ministry but table ministry originally came from a Nomad culture where a
guest was always welcomed, fed and even housed.
Table ministry comes from the Jewish Shabbat where the Mother of the family lit the candle and then led the family in the first prayer. Table ministry comes from gratitude. As the Jewish people do, we give thanks for all we have been given, not because we deserve it, but because it all comes from an over generous creator.
Table ministry is about celebrating God as present in our daily lives. We are co-creating God’s story and creating our own stories at the same time.
Table ministry is about abundance. There is more than enough for everyone, and it is now our responsibility to share it with others, especially the poor.
The IEC has gone beyond the idea of Jesus coming down and being consumed in our unworthy bodies. IEC celebrates the living God in all of creation; it uses ritual in meaningful ways; it transforms people spiritually, and builds upon the original grace that every human being is born with.I believe these small “e” communities are the table ministry that Jesus asked us to do when he said:
“Do this in remembrance of me”.