EXB – 6 Jun 2021
Eucharist and Metaphor
Message by: Fr Richard M Healey
MP3 media (Bulli 8.30am)
MP3 media (Bulli 5.30pm)
Our God is a rock. The Lord is my shepherd. I am the living bread come down from heaven. I am the true vine.
When you read through the pages of scripture, you’re confronted constantly by the Hebrew idea of metaphors. These comparisons between something that we have some sense about, something that we’re able to visualize, to see, to taste, to touch. And something else. We think about it in terms of relationships, the weather. It’s now June, so it’s turned a little bit colder.
Mind you, not quite as cold as when I was down in Victoria a few weeks ago. Driving through the Victorian Alps and stopped at Falls Creek: it was below 0 and snowing – that was definitely on the cold side. So we you know, we think about when it’s cold, just want to get back into somewhere that’s warm. You know a lot of your body functions kind of shut down and slow down, and our sense of of being active and and all of that kind of begins to change. And so when we think of relationships sometimes.
We use that word cold to refer to someone that is not exactly all embracing. They’re not warm to us, and so we’ll say you know they gave me the cold shoulder, they weren’t very warm. They weren’t very welcoming. That is that sense of heat and temperature, which they’ve got nothing to do with relationships. And yet we map these two ideas: relationship and warmth off onto each other and it fills out and completes the image in the picture. So also when you know we’re wanting to say something about God and we know that God is very solid, is reliable, is trustworthy, and so when we think of rocks we get the same sort of of sense. Something that is is solid and firm and enable you can stand on top of a rock. You can build your life upon it and so it’s a good image for our faith in God or that sense of who God is. And so metaphors become a working tool in the scriptures to to point us in the direction of this deeper reality. Calling us into a richer and more beautiful sense of the God, who is often very hard to know, very hard to describe, you know.
- Sunday – Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus
- Play MP3
In our first reading tonight we’re given this wonderful conclusion to the Covenant on Mount Sinai. It begins in Chapter 19 of the book of Exodus. And then chapter 20 to 23, Moses actually receives the words of the Covenant, 19 prepares us and then 24 is this ceremony of the people actually making the declaration saying yes, we will do what God has told us to do and it’s only of course a few chapters later that they completely muck it up and go completely against.
All of the Covenant Commandments, but so Moses is is calling them into this experience that he’s had. And we’re told this extraordinary thing, that the Lord himself.
Appeared to the whole nation to the whole people assembled there at the foot of Mount Sinai. All of the people were able to see God to behold him.
It’s a beautiful image of the God that you know is usually hidden away in a mystery, but God chose in that one particular moment. The only time in human history it’s ever been recorded.
The God was made able to be seen by all the people and he did that there.
It’s a celebration of that. Moses sets forth E. 12 Stones to represent the 12 tribes. So literally he he created or not created. But placed these 12 Stones in a circle as a symbol of the 12 tribes, the 12 nations, and then the blood of the sacrifice. He literally he sprinkled it upon the people as a sign that they were also going to.
Sharing the very life of God by the the the presence and the power of God. So sometimes there are these.
Very visual literal images, but sometimes we’re left with things that seem to be more metaphoric and becomes more challenging to get our heads around.
What does that mean? How do we understand it? How do we approach it? Not that it takes away anything from the the beauty of of what is being described or revealed.
’cause metaphor doesn’t limit metaphor builds and allows us to experience the reality around us in a much richer and more dynamic way. And so we’re invited into this celebration or this sense of of how can God?
Be present to us. How can God manifest that love he longs? We know to love us he wants us to experience that love.
He wants us to allow that presence to be with us, and so at the Last Supper at this final celebration of the Passover, as they remember all of the ways that.
God had rescued them from slavery, had rescued and freed them from saying he now brings them into this.
As Jesus takes the ordinary elements of the bread and the wine that we used in that Passover celebration, but he changes the meaning, he transforms these ordinary, very, very boring kinds of symbols into something so much richer, because he holds up the bread, he says, behold, this.
Is my body take?
And he he holds up the cop containing the wine, and he says, behold, this is my blood. The blood of this new covenant that will be poured out for you.
So these symbols, these images. These ordinary elements are changed and transformed, so that just as the people were able to look up on the very presence.
Of God gathered at Mount Sinai, so also shortly when I hold up the host and I make those same declarations.
When I repeat those same words of consecration, so also we’re able to look upon the very presence of God. I mean, how privilege?
Are we how amazingly gifted are we, as Catholics and Christians, to be able to to share in this profound mystery, to allow the very presence of God to be drawn among us, not only that, we don’t just restrict ourselves to be holding into looking at God from a distance, or invited?
To come, and to consume God. You know when I hold up the host before you and declare to you that this is the body of Christ you.
In your response and your Amen, you affirm that you make that declaration, but you also allow the very body of Christ to be placed into your into your hands.
You then take the host and you raise God into your own in your own fingers and then consume the very presence of God. I mean, it’s it it is.
An extraordinary mystery. We have struggled and stumbled over the centuries to try and make sense of how.
Does this happen? Mr. Thomas Aquinas was probably the most famous in his youth when he used Aristotelian metaphysics to try and explain this in his sense of the transubstantiation, as the description of the transformation that happens now, we don’t understand the world in terms of Aristotelian.
Metaphysics, where Thomas was able to say that yes, there is this change of substance, but all of the accidents and Aristotle said there are ten different possible accidents that are present in any given situation.
We know that physically, nothing changes about the bread and still it still taste the same. So looks the same.
It still has the same shape and size and texture. None of those physical things change. Thomas or Aristotle will say they’re simply the accidents. What changes is the substance.
The very heart of the the reality. What changes is the significance of the the host for us?
Not that it’s simply a change in the the significance. Not that it’s simply a change in its power for us.
We believe it is this metaphysical change that happens in the very essence of the bread to be the body of Jesus for us in the wine to be the blood of Jesus for us. How do we make sense of that?
I think it’s the words of the second Eucharistic prayer that described for me enough to to to be able to fall in reverence before the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. In that prayer we simply say, maybe come.
For us, the body and blood of Jesus. How do we understand it? How do we describe it? We can use metaphors which get us some other way that doesn’t get us into the the whole mystery.
At the end we are left as poor beggars, gratefully receiving and being fed by the Lord in this sacrament.
We long to be fed. We long to be nourished, belong to allow the Lord to be present in our lives and every Sunday, every day.
If you wish were invited, we’re we’re capable of sharing in the very mystery of God. He makes himself available to us.
In all humility, the God will creation the God of infinite goodness. The God of amazing, awesome power humbles himself to be present in mere ordinary bread, changed and transformed through the Eucharist through the acoustic prayer to become for us the very presence and power of God available to us.
Today, let’s just take the time to it’s really long and hunger for the gift that we’re about to receive to our Jesus to be present to us, to allow God to feed us and nourish us this night.