Easter 5

So we’ve got a few things going on this weekend.  Between the flower sale, street fair, HomeFront, first holy communion, and church school recognition, perhaps we’re over-scheduled.  But it’s a glorious weekend, really, full of things that bring us together, things which benefit others, and things that forward the mission of our church.

 

One of the things I love about first holy communion is the class we do the night before.  The kids get to ask questions (and they always have questions I have to dig deep to answer), practice receiving communion (which means they taste the lovely fortified golden sherry we use for the first time, which is always entertaining), and they get to see and handle all the stuff, the chalice and paten and vestments and the like, all the stuff that makes up physical side of our very physical and ceremonial faith.

 

One of the best things to see and examine is always the priest’s host.  You know what the priest’s host is, it’s the big one that gets used no matter what at each Mass, the one that gets raised over the celebrant’s head at the elevation.  (As an aside, at the elevation, that’s less the priest offering up the bread or the wine to God as it is the priest proving to the people that he’s actually doing what he’s supposed to be doing.  There are no tricks in Christianity, and we prove it by holding things over our head so you can see it.  Speaking of tricks, the Mass inadvertently helped spawn some tricky words.  When we say in English, This is my Body, in the Latin we say Hoc est corpus meum, which sounds a bit like… hocus pocus.)

 

Anyway, here’s what a priest’s host looks like.  Host can be a tricky word, because it doesn’t seem to relate to the thing itself at all.  Again, we have a Latin problem.  Host comes from the Latin hostia, which means victim, or more specifically, sacrificial victim.  Jesus, who became a sacrificial victim on our behalf, told us that when we take bread in remembrance of Him, He would make that bread to be His Body, and so this indeed is a hostia.  You’ll see that baked right in are the words panis vitae, Latin for Bread of Life.  The kids always catch on to what panis sounds like, which is Panera, Panera Bread, which essentially just means bread bread.  Good luck going to Panera from now on and not thinking about that.

 

Speaking of bread… bread is essentially how we get to today’s Gospel lesson from John.  John tells us that “When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of man glorified, and in him God is glorified; if God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.”  That sounds like Jesus had gone out, but that’s not the case.  The setting is the Last Supper.  Jesus had washed the feet of the disciples, predicted His betrayal, and then dipped a piece of bread in a dish (which could have contained olive oil or water) and handed it to Judas, who then went out, went out to set up his betrayal of Jesus.  This does not sound like a very glorious situation, but Jesus immediately said “Now is the Son of man glorified…”

 

When we think of someone being glorified, we think of them doing something glorious and everybody clapping or something.  Rarely in the history of mankind has someone been glorified by letting someone else leave to betray them to death.  But somehow Jesus was glorified.

 

By definition, the word glory means “very great praise, honor, or distinction bestowed by common consent.”[1]  Common consent is important there: we, as a group, glorify someone based on who that person is or what they have done.

 

But that’s not what happened here.  We didn’t glorify Jesus, God did.  And God glorified Jesus not for sitting there doing nothing, which is what it looked like, but for continuing to consent to the will of God, for allowing His betrayal, for willingly becoming a hostia, a saving victim.

 

Jesus was glorified right then, bestowed with honor and praise by His Father, and a couple thousand years later we get to join in glorifying Him, adding our consent, no more enthusiastically than when we take Him in, when we receive Him in His Body and Blood.

 

That is, in our very physical faith, how we glorify God and how we ourselves are glorified.  May those who receive the Sacrament for the first time today continue always in the will of God, and may we, with them, abound in the glory of God.

 

 

[1] John Foley, SJ: http://liturgy.slu.edu/5EasterC051919/reflections_foley.html

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