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The Bread and the Olympics

The Bread and the Olympics.

  1. Take a moment to think of your favourite sport. Or just any sport you think is really good.
    Now: imagine that you’ve spent the past 20 years training, practising, working hard to improve. And that you’ve spent the past two weeks in London at the Olympics. And now: you’ve won the Gold!
    You’re bringing the medal home. All your friends and relations want to see it, of course, and to congratulate you. A busy few months ahead.
    One day, you stop at a store to buy some milk. You come out. The car has been broken into, window smashed – and the medal is gone!
  2. So you reason to yourself: It’s not really important. I know I won it fairly. Everyone else knows that too. They saw it on the television. The records are there. The medal looked good, but it’s just a symbol, a representation of what I’ve done. So maybe someone will just smash the medal and sell it as scrap – so what? We all know the facts.
  3. Somehow I don’t think that’s the way most people would react.
    The medal is not just a symbolic representation of the facts.
    That medal embodies all your efforts for the past 20 years, all the time and resources and support of so many people. It embodies the supreme effort at the Olympics. Your mind may intellectualise it, but you know that that medal embodies something beyond just a list of facts.
    We are not just minds in a body. We are body, mind and spirit. We are fully human, body and soul. Human beings live in touchable reality. Symbols are a deep part of what we are.
  4. Remember how the medal embodies so much for you.
    Now: think of the Communion, the Bread of Life, that we share here today.
    Think of the words you’ve heard in these readings.
    Think of Jesus, and all he embodies, all he did, all he means to so many, his very life.
    If a medal can embody so much: what does the Bread of Life embody for you today? Can you hold on to that as you come for Communion? Not just coming forward for an insignificant looking white object, but all the words, all the works, all the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  5. Jesus said: Whoever believes has eternal life. Not “will have”, but “has” – right now. Not Olympic glory for four years, but eternal life.
  6. These bodies of ours – they are not something we look forward to shaking off when our time comes. We are not souls imprisoned in bodies. We are fully human, body and soul. Some may be marvellously fit and active, some of us are creaking and aching and parts don’t work the way they used to or should, but this is us.
    A marvellous thing about being Christians: our bodies are us; our bodies are important; our bodies are sacred. We are not just minds or souls.
  7. Wednesday, 15 August, we celebrate the Assumption of Mary. Not just her soul into the presence of God at the end of her life, but her full being, body and soul. This is the promise for us too.
  8. We receive the Body of Christ, the Bread of Life; we open our lives to the Word of Life.
    Think how much is embodied in what we do here today.
    An eternity of depth and meaning and life and communion with Jesus Christ and with one another.
    Not just symbols, but real presence carried in symbols so simple.
    Bread. Wine. Word. Us.
    We are living sacraments of the presence of the God of love and compassion. We are Bread of Life for the world.

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  1. Paul Burns says:

    The Assumption is one of the most bizarre inventions of the modern church. It’s difficult enough to accept Jesus’ resurrection from the dead but His Ascension and Mary’s Assumption really stretch it. If such dramatic events were literally true then they’d be well covered in all four gospels and Acts etc. Any reasonable explanation offered?

  2. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    Paul: The Assumption is not an invention of the modern church. You can get an overview of the tradition going back to the 4th century on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assumption_of_Mary. Taken in isolation, it can indeed seem bizarre. However, it flows from the tradition of the Resurrection of Jesus, and that we are promised to share in that: not just disembodied souls in the kingdom of God, but full, transformed human beings. This is a tradition we share with other Christian churches; the only difference from much of the Reform tradition is when Mary shares in it.
    The Incarnation can seem just as bizarre a belief, and only Matthew and Luke tell this story.
    “Literally true” is a red herring. We look to the story of salvation, of a God of love and compassion who draws us deep into the divine life, how people gradually learned this as we see over many centuries in Scripture, and how the disciples of Jesus continue learning these depths, guided by the Spirit, in our living out the mystery of our faith each day.

  3. Micheal O'Riain says:

    Only the Catholic Church could turn an Assumption into a Dogma!

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