“If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.” Sociologist Robert Wuthnow of Princeton University has explored how it is that people make everyday ethical decisions. Many people, he found, perform deeds of compassion, service, and mercy because at some point in their past someone acted with compassion toward them. He wrote, “The caring we receive may touch us so deeply that we feel especially gratified when we are able to pass it on to someone else.” He tells the story of Jack Casey, who was employed as an emergency worker on an ambulance rescue squad. When Jack was a child, he had oral surgery. Five teeth were to be pulled under general anesthetic, and Jack was fearful. What he remembers most, though, was the operating room nurse who, sensing the boy’s terror, said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be right here beside you no matter what happens.” When Jack woke up after the surgery, she was true to her word, standing right there with him.
Nearly 20 years later, Jack’s ambulance team is called to the scene of a highway accident. A truck has overturned, the driver is pinned in the cab and power tools are necessary to get him out. However, gasoline is dripping onto the driver’s clothes, and one spark from the tools could have spelled disaster. The driver is terrified, crying out that he is scared of dying. So, Jack crawls into the cab next to him and says, “Look, don’t worry, I’m right here with you; I’m not going anywhere.” And Jack was true to his word; he stayed with the man until he was safely removed from the wreckage. Later the truck driver told Jack, “You were an idiot; you know that the whole thing could have exploded, and we’d have both been burned up!” Jack told him that he felt that he just couldn’t leave him. Many years before, Jack had been treated compassionately by the nurse, and because of that experience, he could now show that same compassion to another. His experience of an act of loving service enabled him to do the same for another. In the Alleluia Verse for today, Jesus made it clear: “The Son of Man came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
To serve another human being without counting the cost, expecting credit and wanting a reward or payback is not natural: it is super-natural. And for super-natural lives, we are in need of super-natural food: The Eucharist. Jesus Christ, within hours of his death, revealed the very mystery of divine life as it sustains earthly existence when He gave us all of Himself: “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me…This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” Following Jesus and living a Christian life which is authentic and inspiring is much more than having a hobby or belonging to a particular political party. It is even more than having a job or a career. Our faith not only points us to what is eternal, but also follows us into that existence. If we live with Jesus here and now, we will enjoy His wonderful presence forever. That is why the Eucharist is essential to the one who understands that this life is passing and heaven is the only real goal worth living and dying for. “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
“You come to me and unite Yourself intimately to me under the form of nourishment. Your Blood now runs in mine, Your Soul, Incarnate God, compenetrates mine, giving courage and support. What miracles! Who would have ever imagined such!” ~ St. Maximilian Kolbe