By Mary Flick, CSJ
The Sundays which follow the close of the Easter season invite us to linger in the unity experienced on that first Pentecost. Two weeks ago, we heard, “They all were together in one place” when the Spirit descended, and the large, diverse crowd of visitors to Jerusalem “each heard them speaking in his own language.” Unity defines our origin as Church. On Trinity Sunday, we reflected on the unity of the Godhead – the oneness of relationship of the Father, Son and Spirit. Today, we see the Eucharist as a celebration of our unity with God and with one another.
In today’s first reading from Deuteronomy, Moses demands of the people, “Do not forget the Lord your God” who guided and delivered them from Egypt, who gave them drink and fed them with manna in the desert. Manna, a previously unknown food, became their food for the journey. The people, together sustained by what God had provided, moved forward together, supporting each other, discovering their identity as God’s chosen people.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes of the cup and bread shared at Eucharist, not as sustenance, but as the source of oneness. We are one body, Paul tells us – the Body of Christ. It requires eyes of faith to recognize Christ in the Eucharist. So, too, we must look with the eyes of faith to recognize Christ in our neighbors. Yes, our oneness, our unity, is what defines us as Church. In the Creed we profess our belief in “one, holy catholic, apostolic church.” We are meant to be one.
The source of this oneness is Jesus’ very self. In today’s gospel. Jesus does not give those who believe in him a perishable manna in the desert, but himself, a “living bread” from heaven. That “living bread” must be received with living faith to have its effect. That “living bread” is the source of eternal life, the source of a unity that is timeless. It is, quite intimately, Christ in me, and I in Christ. The cup and bread we share is our gateway to this intimacy of oneness: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” The body and blood of Christ is true communion – union with God. And Jesus’ gift of his very flesh and blood offers us a solidarity greater than our differences. It is the food and drink that nourishes us again and again, on The Way.