Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Math of Heaven

I am reading this book:

Living PrayerLiving Prayer, by Robert Benson.

In it, I am reading what he wrote about the Eucharist-- Communion, Lord's Supper, Mass-- and it's new things I haven't thought before. He writes:

To take the Eucharist, say the ancients, is the enter into the fourfold pattern--taken, blessed, broken, shared..."

And he goes on to explain,

It is the broken part that I do not care for very much. It is the broken part, however, that makes everything else about the Eucharist worth making over. The lesson is that Jesus of Nazareth--the most chosen and most blessed and most shared one of us all--was the most broken of us all.

The prayer of the Eucharist is the prayer that reminds us that if we are to be the Body of Christ, then we are to suffer the fate of Christ--we are to be broken that we might be shared.

Reading this, I suddenly saw Jesus feeding the five thousand. I saw his hands taking the loaves and fishes, blessing them, breaking them, and giving them to the disciples to share.

And then I saw him at the Passover table telling his disciples, "It is better for you if I go away, because then the Comforter will come."

When Jesus was on earth, he was one loaf of bread, so to speak, the manna from heaven in a human body. When he died--was broken--he ascended to heaven and sent the Spirit to each one of us. He was broken, so he could be shared-- multiplied from one body in one place, to living in multiple people in many places. Is that why believers are called, "The Body of Christ"?

The author of the book suggests that brokenness is rather distasteful to us. He says,

Why should all these things happen to those who have been so blessed and have so much to share? We should be multiplied, it seems to us, not broken.

His conclusion is,

We are not meant to be taken, blessed, and multiplied. We are meant to be taken, blessed, and broken.

However, when Jesus fed the multitude, the bread, in being broken, was also multiplied. When we are broken--when we humble ourselves, become contrite, and accept willingly the trials God allows in our lives--it is not just for the sake of being made small. We are broken to be multiplied.

It's like the old joke about a child complaining that he only has one cookie when the others have more. Then someone breaks his cookie and says, "There! Look-- now you have four cookies!" Of course, the child still only has the equivalent of one cookie.

But in the economy of the Kingdom of Heaven, each of those pieces is now a whole. In being broken, they are multiplied and enlarged.

When we follow Jesus' example, we are taken (he says, "I have chosen you") and blessed, and broken (in repentance, and through our trials and sufferings), and then we are shared. Others are blessed by us when we love them, pray with them and for them, listen to them.







PrayerMom said...

We learn from everything from the parables of Jesus on farming to microbiology's description of cell mitosis that life shares so that life can multiply. Short-term losses lead to substantial long-term gains greater than the loss.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

Wow, that is very interesting way of looking at it. I will be pondering on this and rolling it around in my head this Sunday as I take the sacrament.