1 Corinthians 11:17-26, 33
Gospel Luke 7:1-10
At the Last Supper Jesus said, “Do this in memory of me.” Paul taught the people of Corinth to sit down together at table and share their food and enjoy the meal together with everyone, supper together, just like the Last Supper. Sadly, they made a mess of it, as we heard in today’s first reading, not sharing, not waiting for each other, creating divisions.
The Lord’s supper is a precious thing, whether shared as a holy meal as in Corinth or in the form of the Eucharist as we know it today. Either way Jesus comes to us in communion. Communion. Com-union. Take note of the word, com means with, plus union. The Eucharist is not a private thing between me and Jesus. It is a communal thing. It is communion, something we do together, and a bonding together with each other just as much as with Jesus.
We meet Jesus in each other as much as in the bread transformed.
Of course, we are no more worthy of the Lord coming to us in communion than the Roman centurion was of having the Jesus under his roof. We are sinners. But Jesus said, “I have not come to call the just but sinners.” If you are a sinner, you are invited. Pope Francis tells us that communion is not a reward for the good, but nourishment for fallen, struggling human beings like you and me. Come as you are.
So, the greeting of peace before communion is not something perfunctory, it is a true reaching out to others in fellowship. The person next to you in the pew may be sad, lonely, suffering, needing true human comfort and support. A cursory nod will not do that.
Mingling at the church door can be so valuable, a time to connect, a time to encourage, a time to be part of something bigger than one’s own petty concerns. We can carry that spirit with us back home, at work, on the street, everywhere. One day perhaps we will hear again the old saying, “See how these Christians love one another.” Communion helps us be part of that.
Jeff Foale is an Australian Passionist living in Vietnam, a former New Guinea missionary with a passion for service of the poor and refugees and who loves life in all its forms and enjoys photography.