Everyone carries a story of experiences that shape and record memory, impact thought and actions, stretch through the awe-filled and awful, slip past the tender and terrifying into the realm of what is real and purposeful. From there, we live out the promise each dawn brings, interweaving the narratives and creating lives and families, friendships and communities. There, in the simplicity of sharing a tapestry, human life finds purpose and meaning in love in all its various forms. Love of partners and falling in love, being in love, love for children and friends and neighbors is sourced in true presence to one another. On this feast, the Solemnity of the Holy Body and Blood of Christ, that Presence is celebrated.
Life is short, and packed with choices and decisions, actions and consequences, causes and effects. It runs wildly through calendar years and slips through decades. The conscious awareness of what is actually happening is dulled by the very busy-ness of it. And yet, love is the underlying theme of all that. Love is framed by the presence of one to another, by the interplay of conversation and partnership, by the commitment to common challenges and continual change. Love allows for the inevitable failures, for the flaws and faults of others, for the disappointments and heartbreak of loss and destruction. Love counters the brokenness with unconditional acceptance and the courage of trust and the strength to move forward. Love is daring to remain present amid the complexity of the narrative.
Today, in this feast, that very truth is captured. It rests there in the Marks’s Gospel, sometimes overlooked as “the institution of the Eucharist”. It is so much more than that! The words define that sense of Presence.
While they were eating,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, gave it to them, and said,
“Take it; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them,
and they all drank from it.
He said to them,
“This is my blood of the covenant,
which will be shed for many.
Amen, I say to you,
I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine
until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
Then, after singing a hymn,
they went out to the Mount of Olives.
The Eucharist is the Presence of God to each one in the flowing streams of our human stories, through the tsunamis and the earthquakes, the gentle sunrises and the splendor of sunsets: always there, always waiting. In spite of our stories, our choices and failings, always there. In the rich drama of human relationships, there is this amazing quieting gift of Presence in the Eucharist. There is no blame, no accusation, no hurt and no joy, no connection or happiness that does not find the resonance of Presence in the Eucharist. This is Emmanuel-God-with-us. Realizing this Presence gives us the ultimate model of unconditional love. More importantly, the Presence reminds us that in spite of what may seem unlikely or even impossible, we are loved beyond all knowing.