June 18 – Self-giving love

Scripture Reflection . . .

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

First Reading: Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 147 “Praise the Lord, Jerusalem”

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:16-17

Gospel: John 6:51-58

Today we celebrate a God who is a self-giving God; who longs to be one with us rather than an almighty removed king.  This God is no longer the God described in the Book of Deuteronomy – a God who tests our faith through affliction and is content to guide us through deserts filled with harmful creatures but a God who wants to draw so close as to not only participate in our experiences of both joy and suffering but who wants to become one with us by giving us God’s very self so we can be with God forever.  Jesus reveals the depth of God’s love:  ” Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in [them] . . . Whoever eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:51-58).

This is truly difficult to comprehend – it sounds so horrible really.  As the Gospel of John shares a couple of verses later, several of the disciples proclaim, “This is a difficult teaching. Who can accept it?” (John 6:60).

This week however, this is how Jesus’s words touch me:  Recently one of our goats had her first kid. One way we could tell that she was expecting was the fact that she began to consume more food than previously. Her body needed to nourish the baby growing within her.  Then as soon as the baby was born, the mother began cleaning her kid with her mouth licking off the birth sack and the baby immediately began the quest for food even though her legs could barely hold her upright. In no time the mom was providing the first essential milk to sustain life in her newborn.  The mother goat was giving of herself to feed her baby.  They have been inseparable ever since..
Recently a couple of young women I know, gave birth to their first babies as well.  Here again I witness the self-giving love that bonds mother and infant.  In many ways it is the mothers flesh and blood that sustains the life of her child. The infant needs not only milk, but the experience of touch and smell to be nourished.  And as the Sequence for this Feast reads “Blood is poured and flesh is broken . . .” could we not also say this of a woman giving birth?

Rather than our relationship with God being like a maggot that lives off the flesh of another being (sorry to be so graphic), perhaps we might better see ourselves as nourished and sustained by the love and compassion of a God who is like a mother with her infant; giving of self to give life to another.  I realize it’s also Father’s day so I apologize for leaving out dads in this reflection.  We are grateful for how you show us the self-giving love of God as well!

In Our Lives as Sisters of The Holy Redeemer . . .

Today we reflect on how God has sustained and nourished us this past week.

One of our Sisters completed an intensive leadership and spirituality program as she and her team shared a presentation of their outreach to elderly Residents in one of our long-term care facilities. This program not only focused on the project but on the personal experience of each team member – spirituality, emotionally, intellectually, etc.  While it was a challenging and daunting task, the participants found encouragement and sustenance through the mission of the ministry and the connections with Residents and one another.

Daily participating in the Liturgy sustains us with The Word and The Eucharist – both ways in which we are invited to draw near and become one with Our Redeemer.

A woman who stayed with us as she recuperated from surgery returned to her home at the beginning of the week.  While she was grateful for the community of care she experienced while with us, we in turn are grateful that she could become one with us for these days as she shared her presence with us in community.

We rejoiced at the news that two former Redeemer Ministry Corps (RMC) volunteers gave birth to their first babies.  Even though it has been a few years since they lived among us in community and worked beside us in ministry we are grateful for the ongoing relationships that exists because Our Redeemer has brought us together;  “Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).

We happily welcomed another former RMC back into community as she stays with us while completing one of her Physician Assistant rotations. Seeing her around and hearing her voice is like she never left.  Another “forever” connection.

In Your Life . . .

As the Church celebrates the Body and Blood of Christ, you may want to recall personally how God has nourished you over the years – be it in good times or difficult times; in barren deserts or besides life-giving springs.  How has God’s self-giving love been live-giving to you?

Psalm 139 offers a beautiful image of this God who knows and loves you and wants to be with you.  Here is just a few verses of Psalm 139:

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

Blessings on your week!