Friday, December 23, 2016

Eucharist and Discipleship


I've started reading Michael Buckley's What Do You Seek?  The heart of the book, which I will review at a later date, concerns the questions that Jesus asks of us. As we make our final step toward Christmas, what questions is Jesus asking. The book's title speaks to our moment -- What or whom do you seek?  As a Jesuit, Buckley is rooted in the Ignatian tradition that asks adherents to examine themselves. 

Being that I'm focused (our congregation as well) on the missional aspects of the Eucharist, I found a paragraph from the book helpful. The chapter reflects on the question Jesus asks his disciples as he washed their feet in John 13. "Do you know what I have done for you?" (vs. 12). That is a good question for us to contemplate as we enter Christmas. What has Jesus done for us? How might we respond?  The Eucharist, Holy Communion, is an expression of gratitude. Many will gather on Saturday or Sunday for worship and come to the Table, and receive bread and cup. We might do this with a variety of attitudes. That is between us and God, but could this be a moment of gratitude that leads deeper into discipleship. "What I have done for you?" Jesus asks.  Thus, Buckley writes:

This appropriation through the Spirit of what Christ has done and is doing in our lives issues in gratitude -- a life of thanksgiving and of Eucharist: "And from the many gifts You  have given us, we offer to You, God of Glory and Majesty, this holy and perfect sacrifice, the bread of life, the cup of eternal salvation." This makes the Eucharist the soul of all following of Christ, of all discipleship and ministry. This is true, not just in the sense that these are all realized in the Eucharist, but that the prevenient grace and gratitude embodied in the Eucharist are the root experience that makes our response possible. All this in some way lies behind Jesus's question to his disciples and to us: "Do you know what I have done to you?" [What Do You Seek?, p. 31]  
I realize that we're living in turbulent times. The recent election and the transition to a new government is creating deep angst, and need to be vigilant lest injustice prevail. But, if we are to engage the world, as Christians (if we're Christians), our engagement needs to be rooted in what Jesus has done for us. It needs to be rooted in the meal of thanksgiving, which calls upon us to recognize who has touched us and empowered us to engage the world. Merry Christmas!

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