1 John 4:19-5:4
Christmastime Reflection on the Eucharist
We read the beginning of John’s Gospel at the Mass for Christmas Day. The concluding sentence says, "The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him." To be at the Father’s side is description of unique intimacy. A disciple will be at Jesus side at the Last Supper, again unique intimacy. So Our Lord is the Way, as he invites us to intimacy and we become one with him, he shares with his oneness with the Father.
In today’s gospel Jesus goes in prayer to be in communion with the Father. He sees his followers struggling, a rough sea and the wind against them. He approaches. His action the Old Testament tells us is something only God can do, taming the sea; his words are those of a revelation, "Do not be Afraid". Then Jesus is again with is friends in the boat. Their journey with Jesus goes on, although they do not understand.
In Mark’s gospel frequently Jesus will do two similar miracles, one among the Jews and the other in the territory of the Gentiles. Mark’s community is made up of Jew and Gentiles so it must have struggled to overcome divisions and create unity. The same challenge is present today among the churches in our multicultural cities. How do we come together as one in our basics and be mutually enriching in our uniqueness? How great was this challenge for the community of Mark when the foundations for unity are in the process of being grasped and established by new members in a missionary church?
Jesus is in prayer, in communion with the Father. In the Eucharist shared by both Jew and Gentile in Mark’s community, the followers of Jesus are sharing together in Communion with Jesus. In Him they are one. The disciples receive a glimpse of the mystery of God, a revelation. But they can not understand yet. They will continue their journey until their minds are opened by the gift of the Holy Spirit. For us, as for Mark’s community, we are gifted with the Holy Spirit, we have oneness in our shared intimacy with Christ in the Eucharist. This is an intimacy that we have seen in these Christmas days as a revelation of the Father’s love for us.
As the days of Christmas near their end our gospel offers a reflection on the intimacy with God given at Christmas in John’s gospel, and that we hear in a different way in the reflection on the multiplication of the loaves. In both the Incarnation and the Eucharist we are nourished, become one together in Christ.
Fr. William Murphy, CP is the pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Jamaica, New York.