“Finding God in Service and Eucharist” by Fr Raymond McIntyre SDB, Salesian Community, Limerick, Ireland

“Finding God in Service and Eucharist”                                                      20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel Reading records Our Lord’s invitation to His Disciples to His Eucharist Meal. An invitation to a meal is a statement of friendship… a welcome to the family table and also some sharing in the family’s life. In welcoming everyone with open arms to His Eucharistic Meal, Our Lord is saying that He wants to share His life with them.

Symbols contain meaning and some symbols are recognised everywhere today. The golden arches of McDonald’s have become a symbol of quick service, cleanliness and quality fast-food just as the Holiday Inn Symbol, with its distinctive script is recognized for cheap, no-frills holiday accommodation world-wide.

However, for many people today, Religious Symbols have become meaningless. The small wafer and drop of wine used at Mass don’t speak to many people. Many young people have lost the language and vocabulary of Faith; they don’t see The Eucharist as a sacred Meal where the bread and wine are brought to the Altar to be offered as gifts of what the earth has given and human hands have made symbolizing our placing our entire existence into the hands of our Maker.

Of course God is not only to be found in the Eucharist. We must first find him in answering our neighbour’s cry for help and, perhaps, go on to find Him in the Eucharist, in His Word or in His Church. Some Gospel words come to mind here:

“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you made me welcome, naked and you clothed me, in prison and you came to me”

In Albert Camus’s Novel, “The Fall” there’s a scene where a respectable lawyer, walking in the streets of Amsterdam, hears a cry in the night. He realizes that a woman has fallen or has been pushed into the Canal and is crying out for help. Thoughts come rushing through his mind… of course he must help, but… a respected lawyer getting involved in this way, what would the implications be… after all who knows what’s going on? By the time he has thought it through, it is too late. He moves on, making all kinds of excuses to justify his failure to act. And Camus says: “he did not answer the cry for help because he was the kind of man he was”

This day in the year 1815 a boy named John Bosco was born into a poor farming family in Northern Italy. Today, 200 years later, John Bosco’s answer to the cries for help of poor and abandoned young people continues to be met throughout our world by the Salesian Congregation he founded in 1859. Ordained a priest in 1841, in addition to his priestly duties, Don Bosco still found time to teach carpentry and shoe repairing, to write books on Literature, Religion and Mathematics, to find work for the young orphans he took into his care and run Sunday School with the help of like-minded friends.

When Don Bosco died on 31st of January 1888 he was mourned by the entire Church and was recognised as an outstanding authority on Education. He was a true friend of Youth who found God not only in the Eucharist which he valued so highly but also in meeting the needs of the poor and abandoned Youth of his time.

Fr Raymond McIntyre SDB,  Salesian Community, Limerick, Ireland