Hope found… in the simplest of places.. EC XVII
9 Then they climbed the mountain—Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel— 10 and saw the God of Israel. He was standing on a pavement of something like sapphires—pure, clear sky-blue. 11 He didn’t hurt these pillar-leaders of the Israelites: They saw God; and they ate and drank. Exodus 24:9-11 (MSG)
The Church is most herself when she celebrates the liturgy, and especially the Eucharist, for at Holy Mass, the Church in the world is in touch with the Church of the saints in a unique way. The Eucharistic liturgy makes present the eschatological Christ— the Christ who, coming in glory, will draw all peoples to himself [cf. John 12.32]. In that holy presence, the Church experiences herself as the bride of the eschatological Bridegroom, the Christ who is to come and establish the Kingdom of the Father: “Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him” [Matthew 25.6]. (1)
The more I work in the church, the more I see ministry as working with those who are broken, those who need hope of a kind that goes beyond life. We struggle so much in our lives, with family issues, with health issues, with our jobs/careers, with not knowing what tomorrow brings.
I think that is why the previous generations were so enamored by the messages of a Norman Vincent Peale, or Robert Schuller. Why those in the 80’s and 90’s were enraptured by the enlightenment induced hysteria regarding end-times – hoping and praying that life wouldn’t get worse. That God would somehow rescue this generation from the suffering that has plagued every generation, and yet resulted in some of the greatest visible acts of faith.
In the late 90’s and even into the present, there is a desire for something more solid that our thoughts, more tangible than a rapture, more sustaining than a promise that we won’t suffer. We saw the likes of Robert Webber and his theories about ancient/future church. We’ve seen Campus Crusade types turn to orthodoxy, we’ve seen scholars like Scott Hahn turn to Catholicism.
Each stating that they are looking for somehting deeper, something more providing hope. We’ve seen churches of every type re-discover the sacraments, and try to make them their own. We’ve seen conservative denoms claim to go back to tradiational worship…
The search is on for hope. The search is on for something more.
The Israelites, leaving captivity behind find that kind of hope in a meal. Not just any meal, but one eaten in the presence of God. A meal where they entered His Holiness, even as He came to them. A meal in a glorious place… not because of the vistas but because God gathered to Himself a people.
We see that meal as a foretaste of the upper room, and another meal – one which we continue to celebrate regularly. One that pictures a meal that will welcome us to the place where hope is no longer needed, where we not have to “expect” what is to come, or dread life until then.
A piece of bread… less than an ounce of wine… yet life, and hope and joy and peace… for just as then, God and man feast together…celebrating God rescuing them from slavery, and bringing them into His presence.
Hope – real hope – that shows us we can and will endure, for we dwell in HIm. Hope that takes us past our own limitations, past our own issues, past our own mortality and fear of trauma.
Real hope – for we taste and see we have a real savior.
This isn’t about head knowledge, it’s deeper than theological reason can grasp. It is a matter of our souls – deeper even than the emotions that often are mistaken for our heart and soul. This isn’t about the rapture, even though it is about the end.It is not odd to think that renewal will start sacramentally – but talking about it doesn’t lead us to that point.
Experiencing it does. Knowing He is here, given and shed and resurrected and ascended, yet here… for us.
That changes everything – that gives us hope.
This is God
Weigel, George (2013-02-05). Evangelical Catholicism (p. 153). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.