Monday, March 31, 2008

In the Breaking of the Bread

I like to watch Animal’s Planet and Food Network, especially the Iron Chef. That’s because I like animals and I like to cook. There’s an interesting thing that I see in both channels, that is, the reality of eating. When we see animal’s planet, we’ll see that the animals are quarrelling for food. They eat their food raw, bloody food. They don’t want to be disturbed when they are eating. Sometimes they don’t want to share the food. They even could kill each other if the food that they are eating is trying to be stolen by the other.

But the thing is different when we see Food Network. There we’ll see that raw food should be cooked, or even if you serve it raw, you should add some spices and decorate it. And the way human beings eating their food are totally different with those of animal’s. Human beings share the food, they’re talking around the table, they comments on the food, their appetite, their life.

Eating for human beings and for animal is totally different!

John’s gospel today is on eating (John 6:25-59), eating the bread of life, that is, Christ’s body. This is interesting. People easily connect this gospel with Eucharist. It can be connected, but not just with the devotional aspect of the Eucharist. Why?

If we read the gospel carefully, this Fourth Gospel doesn’t put the discourse on Eucharist in the context of the passion and death of Jesus. It’s different with the synoptic gospels that place the Eucharist in the context of Jesus’ death. This gospel put the Eucharist in the Jesus’ life, in the middle of his life and ministry.

The other thing that we can recognize from this gospel is that this gospel talks that Eucharist is not just for the elite group of the twelve. On the contrary, this gospel is talking about Eucharist as Jesus’ direct gift to the ones who BELIEVE. And this gospel is not talking whether Jesus institutionalized the Eucharist or not.

These two things are really interesting!

This gospel wants to say to us that Eucharist is not merely a devotional act that can be a place of escape for the people who don’t want to deal with the world or who are afraid to deal with the world. Eucharist is not the place for escape. The Eucharist is the celebration of the life itself, a celebration of the life with all its nuances. Eucharist is a supper, that’s why we say, “Happy are those who are called to His supper.” In the Eucharist we share our life as the Savior shared his life. So, the logic is this: if our life is messed up, our celebration of life is also messed up. Eucharist is not a place for pretending to be holy with superficial appearances. Eucharist is an authentic sharing of the life. So it’s funny if we say, “Man, the mass was incredible, I’m really satisfied.” But after that we slap our brother’s face with our hands or our words. If the Eucharist is like that, then what’s the difference between Eucharist and a drama or theater?

The other aspect of Eucharist is that it is not a matter of whether you do something precise enough according to the rubric or not. Eucharist is not a set of rules that forbids or obligates people to do something. Eucharist is not a matter that you are allowed or not to go down from the sanctuary to give sign of peace to the people. Eucharist is a life; Eucharist is for the believer, and it is not restricted to certain qualified people. Eucharist is a share of Christ’s life. In the gospel Jesus does not differ the act of eating and the act of believe. So Eucharist is so rich that can touch every field and part of our life. Eucharist is the celebration of life itself in Jesus Christ. No wonder if Mother Teresa of Calcutta really strict in emphasizing the importance of the Eucharist before starting the ministry to the poorest of the poor.

So how should the Eucharist become a center of our life? I only see it in the Emmaus experience, it is simple yet profound. There, in the Emmaus experience we see that:

First, we are burned and moved by the power of the Word of God.

Second, burned by the power of the Word, we come to the deep worship, and when the bread is broken WE SEE THE LORD.

Third, in the communion we become one with the Lord whom WE HAVE SEEN.

At last, we can’t help running to the world and proclaiming with all the aspects of our life that: