Monthly Spiritual Message, January 2012
By Fr John Spiteri OFM Cap.
This reflection’s focus is on our being elected and called to offer ourselves as “Grain that must be ground to make bread.”(Is. 28:28) Brothers and Sisters, many of us cannot be used as food for the world’s hunger yet, because we often balk at being crushed and ground by Christ’s hands to become food. Grain must be ground to make bread, as Isaiah tells us. To be broken and ground entails a double blessing. One blessing is because God has chosen us to become food for others and the other blessing is to share in the suffering it entails to become bread for the nourishment for others.
To be chosen, and to be called means to be sent forth to others as food which means that we must be ‘set apart’ for our sacrificial offering in the sacred Liturgy of the Eucharist. It is in and through the Eucharist that we become bread for others and are sent forth, made into food by One who is the “Bread of Life.” He became Flesh not for his own sake but for the sake of others and He makes of us food for others too. The means of becoming food takes place in the sacred Liturgy of the Eucharist, through which Jesus offers himself and our sacrifice as the one perfect single sacrifice to the Father.
To accept our ‘being chosen’ means to allow ourselves to become one with Christ’s own perfect sacrifice in the sacred action of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This ‘being chosen’ also means that we must accept the responsibility of the love and the suffering entailed in our selfoffering to our Loving Father, through Christ’s example of perfect self-giving to Him, to become food for others. Through the Eucharist we are made into bread through the Word we hear that reaches our innermost depths and there it takes root. It is purified by the Presence and action of the Holy Spirit, who “has been poured into our hearts.” And, then when we offer ourselves to the Father through the same Loving action of the Holy Spirit whom we ask to “make holy these gifts that we have received” and now offer to our Father, “that they may become for us the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ…”
Our ‘being chosen’ also entails that we follow the One “who became sin for us” that is, He “became flesh and dwelt among us” to give us an example that we can follow. To follow the royal road of the Cross is a call for us to accept the suffering that will come to us as we are being ground and made into bread. Our cross becomes a means of uniting our sufferings with those of Christ. This unity of our suffering with Our Lord’s suffering makes suffering redemptive and filled with purpose and brings us a joy that the world cannot give us.
To become bread for others also entails that we carry our cross, which means that we must always master that with which we are wrestling. Suffering can become a type of darkness that covers us. If a fresh revelation is needed to encourage us to accept our becoming bread for others let us hear the Lord’s words again, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want” (Matt.26:40), then let us not be afraid to return to them, because these words truly contain the strength we need because they are “spirit and they are life…” Through them and in Christ’s hands, we become that bread to be given to others for their hunger.
Our God and Father loved us and demonstrated his love for us by “sending his Son into the world, not to condemn the world but to save it.” This love unites us to Jesus because he too was ‘chosen’ through love and he responded in love to his Father, who commanded him out of love for us, to come to us to save us and to reconfigure us into the ‘original image’ in which we were made. The motivation to save us was not to ‘enslave’ us but to draw us into a deeper and more intimate relationship with Himself through the love that was poured into our hearts when we received the Holy Spirit, who makes us holy because He dwells in us and empowers us to respond to our Father through love.
Our Eucharistic celebration then, is the most perfect means of uniting our poor love with that of Christ’s perfect love that was given in the form of food to his disciples on the night he was betrayed. Jesus, took “the bread said the blessing and gave it to his disciples saying, “take this all of you and eat of it, this is my body which will be given up for you.” Then he “took the chalice, giving it to his disciples, saying, “take this all of you and drink from it, this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many that sins may be forgiven. Do this is in memory of me.” This perfect selfoffering of Christ is an ever new invitation to us each day to allow the hands of Christ to make us food for others.
Our Eucharistic celebration contains an invitation to become bread with Christ for others. But to become ‘bread with Christ’ we have to renew each day our being ‘called and chosen.’ We do this through the Lord’s ‘perfect love and self sacrifice’ who is the perfect man and acts out of love for us and gives himself in thanksgiving to our Father. Our Father takes a huge risk when he gives us his Son. Why? Will we give him to others or keep him for ourselves? Jesus too takes a huge risk when he gives himself to us. Why? Because he depends on us to become like Himself, bread for others, nourishment that contains “spirit and truth.” He was ground into the Bread of Life for us. Then he sends us forth to become bread for the hunger of the world. “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”
John Spiteri OFMCap
National Spiritual Assistant SFO-Oceania