The word Eucharist is Greek for Thanksgiving. When we gather to celebrate our oneness with the Christ, we give thanks. James Joyce, a famous author once stated that the Catholic Church means “here comes everybody.” The word family, in my mind, means just that – here comes everybody. Everybody includes the tall and the short, the thin and the fat, the highly educated and the not so highly educated. All with diverse talents and gifts. Some who share Asian Ancestry, some African, some European, Christians and Jews alike. Some are gifted athletically, others musically; but all enjoy laughter and story telling. None of us are perfect; we are human with human limitations and failures. We learn to walk, to look and see, to understand – one day at a time. We encourage each other and support one another, helping each
Much like the Liturgy of the Eucharist, all gather; for a funeral, a wedding, or just getting together on a regular basis, we begin by welcoming each other. Then the fun begins by sharing stories – stories that remind us of our common heritage – our bonds that hold us together. We share stories of ancient memories and of more recent events – playing catch-up. Many of these stories evoke great laughter and others a tear or two. Memories of our journey – and a reminder that we walk a common journey, even separated by time or space – we walk together.
We share stories of those who have gone before us, reminding us of our roots. The question “do you remember?” and we nod or not, but at the same time sharing. We meet the new members of the family – infants and children running and screaming – new faces and new names. We welcome them into our community that extends backwards hundreds of generations and at the same time looks to the future filled with mystery and adventure.
At a certain point, we begin to gather for the meal – all the while continuing the story telling. The meal is prepared with loving hands and simple but nourishing food and drink. We move around, working to catch up with all who are gathered to some degree. We share stories of the human struggles to grow; reminding us of our common humanity; our strengths and our weaknesses; our wounds and our healing. Somewhere along the way, we drink a toast to all who have gone before us, those here at this moment, and finally to those who are yet to arrive. We raise a glass and drink to life and all that life brings, realizing that we are connected by the bond of love.
Eventually, it is time to depart; to move back to our homes, our jobs, to where life calls us. But there is always one more story. Stories speak of all that life brings; sorrows and joys, birth and death; struggles and challenges. We leave refreshed and nourished; we leave healed with new strength to engage in life and all that life brings, but with new energy and vision.
This is the story of the Mass – a story of sharing stories of long ago and the struggles and challenges; the blindness and the fresh insights, the fears and the changing circumstances that come with growth and life ever changing within us and around us. We find in our sharing that love is that which holds us together – bonds us and together we find strength and healing. We are part of a much larger journey than any one of us can possibly imagine, but each adds to the whole. We are not alone, we are connected to a much larger world than we can know; we are connected to a universe, that over billions of years has been transformed and in turn transforming – creation coming to be; we are not a finished product. When we take the time to look at our individual and family histories, we begin to understand that God the Creator walks with us and in love, holds us together, sharing in our human journey, walking with us, sharing the stories and joining in the laughter and the joy that life brings.
The Mass is ended, let us go forth in peace and love, and share the Good News with all that we encounter, knowing that the heart of Christ resides within us for the common good. The community is called to recognize that the heart gives life in abundance – and that the human family is our family; HERE COMES EVERYBODY!