This weekend we support the Missionary Cooperative collection for the Diocese of Parassala in India, a brand new Diocese with all the needs of a young church. It is a mission Diocese in every sense of that word. People are moving from a lifelong practice of Hinduism to Catholicism and all the challenges that go with that change. Fr. Justin Lazar will share this message and the needs of his diocese with us. What would it be like as an adult to be baptized and receive Eucharist for the first time?
It might be like the joy a baby experiences who begins eating strained vegetables and fruits. As mom steadies the baby in the high chair, the little mouth opens, eyes open ready to receive the tiny spoon with the tasty and nutritious food. Remember watching the changes in your children from breast feeding or bottle feeding to semi-solid foods, watching the baby transition from sucking to chewing and swallowing. Feeding apricots and peaches went pretty well, but not so much vegetables or strained meats at first. My mother usually mixed foods together, tasty and sweet with other baby foods. Her technique worked pretty well.
A child is so hungry for food and so delighted with the attention received, meals can actually be fairly enjoyable those first few months. As children grow older their tastes expand or sometimes contract to the consternation of mom and dad. Are we equally hungry for nourishment that lasts, “divine food for the journey?” Or do we become picky and selective like our ancestors in faith who questioned Jesus’ ability to give them his very life, symbolically as flesh and blood. But in one real sense the Son of God, the Son of Man is God enfleshed as a human being, becoming one of us, God incarnate, both human and divine.
What Jesus offered the people then, and offers us now is his very life for the journey. Jesus offers “living bread” that opens for us the promise and hope of eternal life. The language is symbolic, but the food is real, ours for the taking when we come to the Eucharist. Sadly, or gladly, we have a choice each Sunday, come to the Eucharist and receive the Body and Blood of Christ, or stay away and deprive ourselves of this living giving sustenance.
Hungry babies can teach us something as they joyfully, delightfully receive the food offered to them by mom or dad, brother or sister. Are we equally enthusiastic that we too can come to the table of the Lord? I hope so.
Father Larry Hendel