Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Eucharist: The Subversive Meal
“….my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.”(v. 55)
The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.was assassinated just eight days before Passover, in 1968. In his final speech titled, "I've Been to the Mountaintop," delivered at Memphis, Tenn., he drew parallels between the Exodus narrative and the struggles of the African Americans. As Rev. King put it then, “I would take my mental flight by Egypt, and I would watch God’s children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egypt… across the Red Sea, through the wilderness, on toward the Promised Land.”In his struggles and speeches, Rev. King constantly used the imagery of Exodus to convey the message of freedom and liberation from all forms of enslavement.
The Passover is the feast of liberation but, over the centuries, it has been reduced to being a mere ritual,eroding the message. In today’s passage we see that the heirs of the Passover tradition could easily quote the scriptures on how God led the Israelites in the wilderness,but they were blind to the acts of God in current history. Jesus, on his part, drew a sharp distinction between the Exodus event and his own mission by saying: “Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die” (vs. 49-50). In unmistakable terms, he drove home the truth that his message was the fulfilment of the Passover in Hebrew history. The response of his listeners, however, was negative. Theyhad become prisoners of rituals and traditions, unable to recognize divinity in the imminent.
St. Paul says, “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7); however,like the people in today’s passage,we also are prone to treat the new Passover meal - the Holy Qurbana-as a mere ritual, dilutingthe richness of this sacrament. The Eucharist, on the other hand, has the potential to be “the subversive meal” that will equip us to continue the Lord’s ministry in the world. Empowered by “teaching and fellowship, the breaking of the bread and prayer” (Acts 2: 47), the early Christians became the peoplewho “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). The spirit of the Eucharist equipped Martin Luther King and countless others to strive for the liberation of the people on the margins. The Holy Qurbana should also strengthen us to face the challenges of our times. We will then realize that both the liturgy at the altar and “the liturgy after the liturgy” – our mission in everyday life – are to be taken equally seriously.
Prayer: Our Parent God, as we come near the Lord’s Table, help us to draw closer to you, to each other and to the world. Amen.
Thought for the day: It is when the life and death of Jesus Christ becomes everyday realities for us that we abide in Jesus and he abides in us (v. 56).
Jesudas M. Athyal, Carmel MTC, Boston