Two Roads, Two Tables
by Rev. Stanley J. Kremka
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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John wrote to show that Christ was
the Messiah, the Divine Son of God.
Jesus said to the crowds: "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you , unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever."
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.” This is the familiar opening line of a famous poem by Robert Frost that we all learned or memorized in high school. The image of two diverging roads links us to today’s first reading from the Old Testament Book of Proverbs.
The Book of Proverbs pictures wisdom as a lady who has built her house and set her table as she invites all people to partake of her wisdom. In verses following today’s first reading, she is contrasted with “Dame Folly” who also invites people to her table of stolen bread and water.
So we have the road that follows the call of wisdom and the road that follows the call of folly. Each of them still calls out to us today.
In our second reading, St. Paul describes to the Ephesians the excesses of folly in how it harms human lives. He calls us to use every opportunity to lead a life that arcs toward God rather than the toxic way that drags us to a moral abyss.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to His table of wisdom where we eat His Body and drink His Blood. There is no metaphor here. It is the Lord’s amazing and astonishing call to an actual communion, a holy Communion, with His Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
That holy Communion with the Body and Blood of Christ should lead to an increasingly deeper union with the Lord because its dynamic leads to communion with Christ’s teaching. That leads to communion with His mission. That leads to communion with His church. That leads to communion with His people. That leads to communion with our bishop and our parish.
Holy Communion, the Real Presence, is the sacred and sacramental door to a profound communion with Christ and His church on multiple levels. As that communion deepens, we gradually absorb the wisdom of Christ, the mind of Christ.
It has been said that human beings are the only creatures that look at one another as they dine. But we live in an era of fast foods and quick meals. Meals should be more than a time to assuage hunger. Meals are times for conversation, learning what others are doing, sharing ideas and experiences, strengthening ties within a family or among friends.
So it is with the table of Christ. Our Eucharist is a time to be with Christ and with His church. When Jesus says, “Take and eat; take and drink,” He is calling us to a relationship that lasts longer than the sacramental moment.
It happens that we can forget or omit the powerful layers of communion with Christ that His Real Presence entails.
Can we love Christ and not His church?
Can we adore the Eucharist and neglect the poor?
Can we bow before the tabernacle and also place ourselves in defiance of the Lord’s church?
We can so compartmentalize the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist that we short-circuit the drama of Christ in us.
There was a popular spirituality when I was young. It was a precursor of today’s perpetual adoration devotion. It described Jesus as a “prisoner of the tabernacle.” It encouraged a visit apart from Mass to what was seen as a lonely Jesus. But if Jesus is a “prisoner of the tabernacle,” we are the ones who have made Him so because holy Communion calls us to carry Christ’s presence and wisdom outside the walls of the church to our family, our workplace, our school and our neighborhood.
Communion with Christ is not only a sacramental moment at Mass but a way of life, a departure from the folly of our world. Today’s readings confront us with the two roads and two tables: the path of wisdom and the path of folly; the table of Christ and the table of the world. Which are we choosing?
Robert Frost ends his poem with the words, “I took the road less traveled-by, and that has made all the difference.”
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