Many of us watched this year’s Holy Week and Easter ceremonies on the television or internet. We are grateful for the technology that made this possible but we all know that it was not the interactive parish experience that we treasure. We miss the gathering where we can see each other, sing and pray together, extend a sign of peace and receive the Eucharist. Our faith is about belonging to a community. Coming to Mass is about receiving the nourishment from community Eucharist so that we can live better our day to day lives.
We all have some sense of what is community and what contributes to good community. Most of us live in a social circle made up of our family, friends and workmates. Coming to Mass expands that as we often are called to share a sign of peace and Eucharist with people we may not know. Eucharist expands our sense of community, not only to include others in the parish but beyond as well.
Our God calls us to be this bigger community where we learn to live compassion and justice. Jesus provides a challenge in Matthew 25 concerning how we respond to those who are hungry and thirsty, and to those who are strangers and needing clothes. What he is doing is expanding our horizons and our sense of who we include in our community. Eucharist is about experiencing Jesus present. So too, is feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming strangers and clothing those who are in need. Eucharist includes those most in need in our sense of community.
Pope Francis draws on creation stories and stretches our sense of community even further. He names all humans as part of a bigger creation that shares a common home. His encyclical, Laudato Si’, on the care of our common home, expands our sense of community to include also future generations, threatened flora and fauna, and all that is required to maintain life. In essence, Pope Francis is emphasizing that we are connected and that we have responsibilities to each other and to the rest of creation.
So in this time of coronavirus, it is helpful to reflect on community and what makes good community. Living the Eucharist is about being open to a bigger sense of community and to seeing our responsibilities to those in need and to the fragile and exploited earth. Living the Eucharist is about choosing to live with compassion and justice so that God’s desired community is experienced and made real in our time and place.
Dr David Tutty
Toowoomba Social Justice Commission