Friday, April 3, 2015

Holy Thursday Homily: Grain and Grape Crushed


When I was teaching Theology some year back, a course on Christian Justice, we read a story about the power of a snowflake. During a snow storm, snow began to accumulate on a tree branch. Each snow flake nearly weightless fell on the branch. Eventually, the culmination of the many, many snowflakes brought down the sturdy tree branch. No one snowflake could know that it would be the one to tip the balance, but they all did their part together.
Tonight we gather to celebrate the mystery of the passion memorialized and lived in the Eucharist. The Eucharistic elements of bread and wine, St. Augustine comments, are the image of the Church. The bread we use that becomes the Lord’s own body is made up of many, many grains and the cup of wine, made up of many, many grapes. But first, these grains need to be crushed. They need to die to themselves to yield something more, something greater, the body of the Lord. The grapes, too, must first be crushed, many of them at a time to yield the wine which is his blood.
Thus, our first image and lesson from tonight is we must each be willing to be crushed for something greater. We must be willing to sacrifice ourselves to be the Body of Christ. We must be willing to be less significant on our own, but something greater together in the community of the Church given shape at this meal.
Second, for what is this something greater? Our Lord answers this, as well... love. “Do you know what I do for you? Then you must do this for each other.” We sacrifice ourselves, unite our desires, and become the very Body of Christ in and for love. Our sacrifice becomes a power beyond understanding, a power to transform, a power to give life. Jesus’ being crushed finds ultimate power in the uniting with his Body in the world, to transform all of creation in the new life of the resurrection.
Like the snowflakes, we can not know the power individually we can assert until we are united together to bring down a mighty branch. But first, like Christ we much be willing to be crushed, serve others first, forgive in mercy, and then be untied in the love and power of the resurrected Body of the Lord.