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Amen to What We Are

April 2, 2015 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

April 2, 2015
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Fr. George Smiga

Here we are—again. Week after week you and I gather around this altar-table to do what Jesus asks us to do in today’s second reading: to share a meal in memory of him. Over the years, we have gathered together on many different occasions and for many different reasons. We have gathered for weddings and funerals, for baptisms and anniversaries. We have gathered to give thanks for our family and for the freedom that we experience in this country. We have gathered to ask God for a job or to ask God to protect a son or a daughter who is struggling. We have gathered to find hope as we struggle with depression or to find courage as we face death. On all these occasions and for all these reasons we have gathered together. And we have done this because we believe that Jesus is here. We believe that when we gather together the risen, living body of Christ is present among us. As Paul also says in today’s second reading, “On the night before he died, Jesus took bread and said, ‘This is my body.’” We believe in the gift that he has given us. We believe that when we gather together the bread and wine that we place on the altar is changed into the living, risen body of Christ. That is our mystery. But it is not the only mystery.

St Augustine reminds us that in the same letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells his readers that they are the body of Christ. And so, Augustine says to his assembly, “If you are the body of Christ, then it is your mystery that is placed on the Lord’s table! It is your own mystery that you receive! When you say “Amen”, you say “Amen” to what you are. Your response is a personal signature, an affirmation of faith. When you hear “The Body of Christ”, you say “Amen”. So be then members of his body, so that your “Amen” may ring true!”

Augustine reminds us that the living presence of Christ is with us, not only as bread, but as us. We place ourselves on the altar and we ask to be changed: to be changed more fully into Christ’s body, to be people who are more grateful for what we have received, more courageous in facing evil, more forgiving toward our enemies, more generous in loving, more zealous in working for justice. We come together to do this in memory of him so that we might have the power to wash one another’s feet and to build God’s kingdom.

Today we remember what Jesus did on the night before he died. As you pray the Eucharistic prayer, understand the Amen that you sing. As you come forward to receive communion, ponder the Amen that you offer. Let us become more fully members of Christ’s body—so that our Amen may ring true.

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