Eating is one of the great unifying experiences of humanity. Everyone does it. Three times a day, most of the world sits down to some kind of meal for health, strength, and enjoyment. In many ancient cultures, sharing a meal together was the epitome of fellowship, and even in modern-day America, when we want a real conversation with someone, we have them over for supper or go out to a restaurant to talk.
Jesus invites us to share his table - to eat his flesh like bread and drink his blood like wine. Some of us have learned to sit quietly and eat what is put in front of us, and have discovered great peace in so doing. Some of us still behave like brats and get into food fights. (I know I've certainly been in more than my share.)
I don't have enough Jesus inside me. I need more. That is the supremely important thing. "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." And we can't partake of Jesus if we're always flinging him in one another's faces. The Eucharist is a sacrament of humility and devotion, a reminder of the massive mystery of redemption. It is an invitation to noisy children to quiet themselves before their Father, let go of their pet doctrines and personal vendettas, and experience the beautiful unity of Psalm 133.
Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
For years I thought it was zealous to go around telling other Christians what was wrong with their theology, when Jesus just wanted me to love them and rejoice together in our common inheritance - salvation through the blood of the Lamb. "Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand."
Jesus is not a weapon. I know about the scourge and the temple and the overturned tables. I know there's a place for rebuke and repentance. I know that Jesus said that he didn't come to bring peace but a sword. But he also prayed we would be one.
I don't think the sword is supposed to be slashing around within the Church. The Church is a place of healing, safety, encouragement. The Church is a place where tears are dried and feet are washed. The Church is where the wine is poured, the bread is broken, and Jesus is shared.
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