Fifteenth Sunday 2006
Yesterday I presided at 3 weddings here and I was tempted to use the Gospel we just heard where Jesus sends his disciples out 2 by 2. I wanted to convey a sense of the mission of the sacrament of marriage to say that the relationship of the couple in a Christian marriage is not private but has a public dimension. But I resisted the temptation since I didn’t think the couples would appreciate being told not to take anything with them o n their honeymoons except sandals and a walking stick!
Instead of the two by two theme and mission, I asked the question “what brings you here today? It’s an obvious question who’s answer is, “To get married” but I asked them to go beneath the surface and really think about “what brought them to this day and who brought them to this day.
It’s the same question I would ask you this morning. What brings you here today? Need for prayer, sense of gratitude, desire for community. I’m sure there are as many reasons as there are individuals here. Perhaps the better question is “who brings you here today”. And the answer, if you go beneath the surface, is Christ himself. Christ is the one who invites you to his table. The reason you are here in this place and not at the beach appreciating God in creation is that Christ himself wants to gather you around his table so that you can be one with him in his gift of sacrificial love to the Father.
Paul is rhapsodic in the letter to the Ephesians as he describes this sharing in the mystery of Christ.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will. For the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in his beloved.
In the Spanish it’s “en la persona de Cristo” In the person of Christ.
I’m sure you notice something different this morning. This altar table is now more central; it is closer, not distant from the people. For the altar/table in out Catholic tradition is not just a table, or just a surface that holds the gifts of bread and wine. It is Christ himself. No, not in the same way that the bread and wine becomes the body and blood of Christ but in some way this altar table is Christ. It is why the first thing that the presider does coming into the sanctuary is to kiss the altar, as a sign of reverence to Christ and the last before he leaves.
When we come here for Eucharist we are asked to see beneath the surface. We are asked to see Christ in each other, Christ in the bread and wine consecrated, Christ in the presider who leads the prayer, Christ in the Word proclaimed. The presence of Christ, “la persona de Cristo” is experienced in different ways but we have to go beneath the surface to really see Christ who invites us to his table.And it is Christ himself who sends us out, two by two, or one by one on mission. When we have been touched, blessed, fed, nourished, healed, strengthened, transformed by Christ Jesus than we have to go and do likewise.