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We remember

Mary Jo Tully
Chancellor, Archdiocese of Portland

Sunday, June 22, 2014
The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a
1 Corinthians 10:16-17
John 6:51-58

Everyone in my family is a story teller. For years and years, we lived the same stories. Oddly enough, the stories change in our telling. Part of that is, of course, that we see events through the prism of our own experience. The other part is that we edit our memories in keeping with our imagination. I suspect that is the reason that some of us have better memories than others. We have better imaginations.

My family memories are mainly centered on meals and food: Sunday morning brunch prepared by Dad, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with family and friends, the Seder meal with the Jewish family across the street. My memories are a sensual experience. I can smell the cooking in the kitchen, taste the homemade bread, and hear the chatter in the living room, see the view from the bay window and feel the embrace of my parents. As I remember those meals and that food, I recall the ideas and values we shared. Those who provide physical nourishment are often those who feed us with a food that was “previously unknown to us.”

The First Reading begins with the word, “remember.” Moses wanted to convince the people that God continually cared for him.  The prophet wrapped his memories in food by reminding Israel that God fed them with manna and that he gave them an even more important food...the word of God. It is another reminder to those who have known the Paschal Mystery.  Today on the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ is the festival of Catholic faith in the real presence of Jesus. This is, indeed, “the food unknown to our fathers.”

The collective memory of the Catholic community is like our family memories. They also center on meals. Most of us cannot imagine the central events of our lives — births, deaths, and weddings — without relating them to the Eucharist. Whenever we people of faith gather, we recall events and enter into the collective stream of consciousness and memory of Christians everywhere.  

The Eucharistic meal is so much a part of our lives and our memories that it would be easy to take it for granted. Today’s feast invites us to think of how important it is to us. Someone I deeply care about left the Church in anger. For a time, he forgot why the Catholic Church was the center of his faith life. He went to services in other churches. He heard inspired sermons and was part of faith-filled groups. Then, he came back to the Catholic Church. It seemed sudden to me and I wondered why. I asked. His answer was clear: “Because of the Eucharist.”

On this Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, we remember those who have fed us with ordinary food. Most of all, we remember the center of our faith and our memories.

Related Links:
• Liturgical readings

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