Life & Soul

Whenever we share the Eucharist we are called to renewed commitment

Joshua leads the tribes of Israel in a work by English Romantic painter John Martin

Without commitment, we are, in the words of the Scriptures, like leaves driven in the wind. Our lives are without direction and at the mercy of every passing distraction. The relationship between God and his people had been founded on commitment. From the calling of Abraham the God of Israel had committed himself to his people. They, in their turn, had committed themselves to the God who was their salvation.

If a commitment is to endure it is renewed through the daily commitments we make to God, to family and those whose lives we touch. Precisely because we are sinful, commitment sometimes loses the ardour of its first beginning. It is at such times that we must, with God’s help, seek to renew those commitments.

One such moment came in the life of God’s people as Joshua led the tribes of Israel to Shechem. Their time of wandering had finally come to an end. Their God had delivered them from the slavery of Egypt and led them across the wilderness. Through the leadership of Joshua, God had made them secure in a land that would be their own. At this crucial moment, Joshua challenged the tribes to renew their commitment to the God of Israel: “Choose today whom you wish to serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

The tribes of Israel covenanted themselves to the Lord in the covenant made at Shechem. Thus their life in the land began. In a similar way the Church has, in the traditional morning offering, encouraged us to consciously commit each day to the Lord. It takes but a moment but gives shape and direction to our days.

Whenever we share the Eucharist we are called to renewed commitment. St John’s long discourse on the Eucharist was brought to a dramatic conclusion when many began to abandon Jesus. They had found it impossible to believe that Jesus was, in himself, the Bread of Life that satisfied every longing. Jesus challenged the twelve, and through them every person who comes to the Eucharist: “What about you, do you want to go away too?” It was Peter who responded: “Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe, we know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Let us allow every celebration of the Eucharist to become a challenge to the many commitments, good and bad, that fill our lives. Only in his presence can we truly discern what gives us life. Let us commit ourselves to him, and in so doing reclaim the lives that he has given us. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life.”

This article first appeared in the latest edition of the Catholic Herald magazine (21/8/15).

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