Reflection for Sunday – June 3, 3018

Readings: Exodus 24:3-8; Hebrews 9: 11-15; Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
Preacher: Alice Miller Nation
I am blessed to have a job that teaches me about life and others all the time. This
past March, I took a group of students to the St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia. The
Inn is a soup kitchen that serves 350-400 meals each day—every day of the year.
On one particular day, my job during the evening meal was to work the back door
at what the Inn calls “giveaways.” These are food items that are in surplus and
everyone eating dinner can take one home. On this particular day, the
“giveaways” were desserts. There were all kinds of desserts—whole cakes,
cookies by the dozen, pastries and pies.
While assisting guests choosing their dessert to take home, I noticed one guest
coughing throughout the meal. I had recently recovered after a bout with the flu
and the cough seemed very familiar to me. My heart went out to this gentleman,
living on the streets of Kensington and sick. I could only imagine how difficult life
must be for him.
It wasn’t long before this man came to me to choose his dessert. I greeted him
with a smile and let him know his choices. He immediately held out his hand to shake mine as he greeted me. I winced. I held back and reluctantly reached out to greet him with a handshake. I can still remember feeling the hard and calloused skin on his hand as our palms touched. I was apprehensive and conflicted.
Knowing how bad his cough was, I did not want to shake his hand, but I knew I
should. I looked into his eyes and they smiled at me. He soon found the perfect
dessert and headed out the door with a “God Bless you.”
As the meal ended, the dining room was swept and mopped. On Monday after
the meal, the community gathers in the chapel for Mass. I was tired, the day had
been long and I quietly entered into prayer. The Mass went on like most daily
Masses. It wasn’t until I held the Eucharist in my hand that I remembered my friend at the back door. As I heard the words, “the Body of Christ,” I suddenly realized this was the second time that day I held the body of Christ in my hands.”

Today we celebrate a feast that is a reminder that God is truly present to us each
and every day. Do we always understand it? Of course not. Do we find ourselves
with doubts at times? Absolutely. The reality of life is that we do have doubts and
other times, the circumstances of life cloud our vision so that all we can see is an
older man with a nasty cough rather than Christ present in our midst.
This feast is a reminder to us that our God is near, in our moments of joy as well
as in our fears. Our God is very close to us and is ready to feed us with
nourishment we can find nowhere else. But, in order to recognize the Body of
Christ present and alive in our world, we need to do our part. It’s up to us to enter
into our days and experiences with hearts that are open and soft, willing to be
transformed. We need to be willing to take the time to look into the eyes of
another, remembering that they too are the beloved of God. And lastly, when we
find ourselves doubting and questioning, it just might be helpful to take the time
to go to Mass and receive the Eucharist. It might be in the quiet of the Eucharist
that we discover we have been holding the Body of Christ in ways and places we
never imagined.

Alice Miller Nation
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