Back in 2009, I had helped out the Franciscans looking for financial support to build churches in places that couldn’t afford to build their own. They do the fundraising, and after they get the funds, they coordinate with the local people on the ground and the local community that they’ve identified as a one to receive the church. The people do some matching with their own fundraising and with their own labor. They take about six months to build the church, and then afterwards, there’s a big inauguration, a kick-off. The bishop comes and the Franciscans come. And in my case, I came too.
After the visit, I knew that I would be going back. It’s because since I made the donation, I believed that my mother was there in a special way, in her new life. The church was the ground zero where she was living her life with God after passing away in 2008.
So, there I was one day, talking to some friends, sharing my plans about returning for a while to know the people. That’s when one of my friends said, “They didn’t know they were getting you!”
He was right. They had no idea.
They had no idea they were getting more than money. They had no idea they were getting more than a church building for the community.
When the landslides came, they got the rebuilding of homes and the end of landslides. When the kids’ suicides went through the school, they got healing for the community, and an end of the suicides. They got the best church celebrations, the best Easters, the best Christmases they ever had. At the toughest moment in their history, everything seemed to turn around.
Because they got me.
Do you remember the story of the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years? Well, since there’s no food in the desert, they had to rely on God. So, every day the Israelites would wake up to find manna lying on the ground, and that was the food they would eat, right? There’s a reason they called it manna – it’s because that is the Hebrew word for “What is it?” They had no idea what it was. They ate that food every day, for 40 years – but they never updated the name. That means that even after 40 years, they never knew what it was.
So there is Jesus, at the Last Supper, and he takes the bread and blesses it and says the words the Israelites were waiting to hear all those 40 years in the desert and the 1500 years since.
“This is my body.”
God is saying, you didn’t know. You had no idea. You thought you were just getting the good stuff I give.
But you’re getting a whole lot more.
You’ve got Me.
Get ready for a change.
While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Mk 14:22-26)