OK, here we are for part 3 of this series founded in the Feast of Corpus Christi. We’ve talked about Eucharist, who deserves to be fed, and how real food matters in part 1 and part 2. Today is the final installment, because enough really is enough. Thank you for reading!
Let us take a look at some of where our tax dollars are going to in the shadow of not only this church feast, but also in the shadow of Memorial Day, when we honor our war dead. I am not against the military per se, and I have war veterans in my immediate family including my WWII fighting father, and my recently retired from the Army nephew. He served in Kosovo during horrible times, and did 4 tours in Iraq. However, we spend a lot of money on the machines of war, so that we might have peace. And bread.
In another shadow, that of Hiroshima, President Obama (hey I voted for the guy so let’s just get that out there, I voted for him twice) we see a man torn between his anti-nuclear promises and passions and a president who has “put us on course” to spend over a trillion dollars to updgrade the nuclear arsenal over the next three decades. We seem to have enough for that!
I know I am getting lecture-y sounding, I’m sorry, but I keep seeing anxious, depressed, hungry people with scruffy and also hungry children and it kind of gets me down, OK? It is hard for me to understand that there is “not enough.” More often this cry of not enough comes from the other side of the political aisle, and so often I find that it is a kind of pandering that never puts the greater common good first. How have we lost sight of this important principle?
We all know that the “not enough” files contain overflowing folders of medical and health insurance nightmares. People The ACA has done its job to get more people insured, but it does not go far enough, people still have crappy coverage, and the rest of us grumble about higher premiums – with employers and insurance companies grumbling louder. I’m no Wall Streeter, but last I checked insurance company executives were very highly compensated, and as a corporate veteran myself, I know that those who can squeeze more profit are rewarded. There is always enough for that, isn’t there?
We once worried that there would not be enough fossil fuels, so we entered the era of American oil independence to the battle hue and cry of “drill baby, drill.” Well, that oil drilling and fracking (do not get me started on that one) has us in a bit of a twist now that there is a depressed oil market and a glut of oil.
Let me stop ranting and get on with this… For those of us who are people of faith, we pray these words frequently:
Give us this day our daily bread…
Daily bread. Not bread to store so that we won’t have to worry. Not that we should not be prudent and wise, not that we should not save something, but perhaps we are obsessed? Here we are in the land of hoarders, a nation of storage unit renters for all of our stuff, yet we buy ourselves silly with dreams of “Konmari-ing” our homes in order to become minimalists. We have so much that we have to get rid of stuff in order to be happy, but yet we acquired it all because we either thought we deserved and/or that our stuff would make us happy.
All of this leads us back to Jesus, of course! When the apostles look out and see too many people to feed, they worry and come up with a plan to disperse the crowd. Jesus reminds them that through and in him, they have the power to feed everyone in abundance. So what stops us from doing so? It can’t just be my mother’s depression era mentality at work, can it? I don’t think so.
The Eucharist is food from heaven, superfood if you will, given to use so that we might be transformed with Christ and feed others with what we have been given. Many people do this, but more of us can join in. How can we do this in both spiritual and practical ways?
One way is that for those of us who attend mass is to attend mass with more presence on the Body of Christ and what Christ himself asks of us. When Jesus said
“feed them yourselves“
he was not just talking about the apostles, he who was and is still very alive is talking to us in the here and now.
Perhaps we need to reorient ourselves away from more pious practices that focus simply on a “Jesus and me” theme. We don’t go to mass to please God or to gain points that will enter us into heaven, but rather to be there for one another and to be bread in the world. This could be something as simple as giving up “your” seat, saying hello to someone new, or to someone you see often, but don’t know. This could be something like keeping your eyes open after communion instead of simply kneeling in “private” prayer, and looking around at all of those around you with eyes of love – because Jesus is in each one of them.
Another thing we can do is go beyond what we might bring for the food pantry. It is a great practice at many parishes to bring food that will be shared with those in need, but instead of those 10 boxes of store brand mac and cheese, do something different. Maybe try living on that store brand mac and cheese for starters, so experience life from another perspective. Or maybe it might mean to take that jar of expensive pasta sauce from the specialty store, you know the one you were holding onto for a special occasion, and bring that to the food pantry instead. Another food related idea would be to find volunteer activities to serve those in need in a direct way, such as serving at a soup kitchen.
Honestly, in the end, even if we don’t change much, can we simply live with more gratitude, more awareness, more hope, and more love? If those things do not come to us as direct “nutrients” from the Eucharist, then we might be lost. Nutrients they may be, but we have to be aware of them and cultivate them.
Maybe we can make a collected effort to be more aware, more grateful, more generous – all things to make us more alive. And in that way the Body and Blood of Christ is made real in the world, day after day, after day. That is why we are here, to not only be fed, but to feed others. And in this perpetual giving, the Eucharist is alive in the world, Christ is alive.