Monday, June 15, 2015

Blood is thicker than water

John 6:35-46
Jesus declares “I am the bread of life. Those who come to me will never hunger and those who believe in me will never thirst.” The intrinsic nature of Holy Communion should lead us to figure out that communion will not and cannot stop after the church service but is followed by creative action and engagement outside the church, in our own respective spheres of work and involvement. Poverty is a big problem in India and despite the effort to showcase India as a super power not much is being done to alleviate poverty in the Indian context. What can Christians offer in such a scenario?

Firstly, consider others as your own family. We do not help others because we simply do not feel anything for others. We do not feel anything for others because we are not in relationship with them. In a retreat two weeks ago a Catholic priest recollected his journey with Mother Teresa in Bangalore. She asked him to stop the car they were travelling in and gives her sandwich which she got from the plane, to the person asking for food and money on the street. Perhaps Mother Teresa saw what any of us usually do not see and that is to consider the other as family. This is easier said than done. But how do we consider others as family?

Last week the owner of a major South Indian conglomerate called for a press conference and declared that he had severed all ties with his adopted son. He was no more his son declared the father. The reason was that his son had fallen out of favour with him because he had taken over the empire built by his father and starting relieving his father’s helpers. His father then felt that his bond with his staff was more than the bond developed with his adopted son. He also went on to say that blood is thicker than anything else.

This then brings us to the next point of exploration. How can we help others when we simply can’t see them as family? Jesus’ declaration that he is the bread of life and that if we partake of him we will never hunger and thirst brings us close to the truth that if we can come into communion with each other, the blood will bind us together. Family is not just natural family but family built by this communion of trust and respect. When Jesus asks us to be in communion with him it is also to be in communion with each other. Holy Communion should lead to the alleviation of poverty because we should be encouraged to take steps to help our own extended family members, our own flesh and blood.

The beginning of this should be in one’s own church. Showing love and caring for others can take place only if we can trust one another. It can take place only if we bring the trust to the level of participating in each other’s lives. Many people come to church to experience the love of God and the strengthening presence of the Holy Spirit through the life and acts of Jesus. Showing love and caring for all people who come to church from whichever background is a way of being in communion with them through the strengthening and life giving communion we have received in church.

How far can we take this and how thick is the blood of our relationship? There was a street dog which used to live in our part of the city two years ago. The dog was familiar to me because I used to feed him bones every once in a while. He disappeared all of a sudden and I didn’t see him anymore. Last week I was in another part of the city buying some food. While I was waiting and talking to a friend, I realized that a dog was coming close to me. He started wagging his tail and then let out a howl in greeting. I realized that this was the dog who I thought I would never see again. One has to realize that relationships are forged in different ways and with different species of God’s creation. Feed each other, be in communion and bring about a bond which is thicker than blood and this will never go away.

This then becomes the deeper meaning of the Eucharist. It is a sharing that teaches us to share whatever we have with whoever we come across. It simply does not end and this becomes a part of our lives. It is indeed right when Jesus says, whoever will come to me will never hunger and whoever believes in me will never thirst. Amen.

(Excerpts of two sermons preached in the St. Ignatius JSO Church, K.R. Puram, Bangalore and the St. John's English Chapel, Lingarajapuram, Bangalore.)

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