July 29, 2018

As we conclude the month of July, and begin the month of August this week, we have an opportunity for an extended reflection on the Eucharist. Every three years the Gospel readings for five weeks in the summer are taken from the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. It will be September before we return to our Gospel for this year – the Gospel of Mark.

There is a practical reason for this “time out” from St. Mark’s Gospel. It is the shortest of the four Gospels, and for that reason, we read through it more quickly than the other three Gospels. This interlude with St. John’s Gospel allows us to take up Mark again in September, and read his Gospel almost to the end of the liturgical year. We conclude our reading of Mark on the next to last Sunday of the year, and then return to John’s Gospel for the Solemnity of Christ the King on November 25.

But this practical consideration leads to something much more important: the gift of reflecting on the Eucharist for an extended period. The sixth chapter of John’s Gospel begins with the story of the Multiplication of the Loaves (which is the Gospel reading for today), and then continues with an extended discourse by Jesus known as “the Bread of Life Discourse.”

The Second Vatican Council’s document on the sacred liturgy describes the Eucharist as the source and summit of the Church’s life. It is at Eucharist that we find the source of all that we are and all that we do as disciples of the Lord, and as a Church. It is also at the Eucharist that we achieve the summit of our life in Christ.

In the guiding policy document for parish life in the Archdiocese of Seattle entitled Many Gifts, One Spirit, norms around the celebration of the Eucharist are explained. The introduction to the section on the Eucharist describes well the centrality of this sacrament to parish life:

In the Eucharist, Christ nourishes the believer with the essential food, which is the sign of faith and bread of life. The celebration of Mass, today, in union with the Archbishop, forms our local Church, connects us with the apostolic faith, and links us with the Church universal. All parish life revolves around the Sunday celebration of the Lord’s paschal mystery in the Eucharist. The

reverence with which we offer this sacrifice of praise is an outward manifestation of the holiness of God who has taken on our flesh. The celebration of Mass must therefore be of the highest priority in our parishes. Just as the disciples who encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus were eager to return to Jerusalem when they recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread, so too must we be eager to proclaim the Good News, share the joy of Christ’s presence and invite others to join our company. The Eucharist is holy manna, food for the whole of the Christian journey. In our devout participation in the Mass we are given a foretaste of the banquet of heaven and given a hunger for the invitation to join the Lord, the angels and the saints around His heavenly table.

I hope that over these next five weeks, all of us may be drawn deeper into this wonderful gift of the Holy Eucharist. May our appreciation for this most privileged encounter with Christ grow over these next weeks and may we come to know our Savior in a deeper way in the Breaking of the Bread.

God Bless,
Fr. Gary Lazzeroni