May 14, 2023

VI Sunday Lent
Year A
Fr. Jon Reardon

The word orphan is defined as ‘a child whose parents have died.’ In the original Greek the term is ‘orphanos’ – the translation then is quite literal. Yet, ‘orphanus’ could also be translated as ‘bereaved’… ‘to be deprived of a loved one through a profound absence – especially death’ … while the meanings are similar I think the latter says something more … perhaps Jesus is saying: “I will not leave you deprived…”

          An article I recently read had as its title –“Where is Christ Hiding? The author notes that at one time, Christ was the very center of Western Civilization and had been for the better part of 2,000 years … but where exactly is He now? Is He hiding? Christ gave us the assurance that He would not leave us ‘orphans’, He would not leave us ‘bereaved’ – deprived … but deprived of what? The answer to that question is, of course, Himself … Christ would not leave us deprived of Himself … But in a culture, a society in which we live now, a place where even among Church circles the name of Jesus is used thoughtlessly, carelessly – used more so as curse than taken seriously and held sacred … Is Christ is hiding from us? You see the author notes that perhaps we have made Him all too familiar. We are afraid to speak about Him, about the Truth of human nature and the salvation souls … instead we identify Him with our civilization, our culture, society and politics … we make Him palatable – and thus invisible.

          If Christ has not left us bereaved – deprived – where do we find Him? There is a short answer to this faith-filled conundrum… the answer is clouded in mystery, yet all so real … here the author reminds us of the doctrine of transubstantiation – the doctrine by which we believe the substance of bread and wine offered on our altar is miraculously transformed into the substance of Christ’s Body and Blood. Where the Catholic Mass takes place is the place to look for Him… this is what He meant – I will not leave you deprived. He will not be found from a search of the world, He will not be found mingled in with our society and politics – and this tends to be where we look – we look in all the wrong places …. But there is one place to look, where we can be assured that the promise of Christ is true – Christ is not hiding from us … He is right here, in the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. Why are we looking elsewhere? Why do we try to find our happiness, delights, meaning and purpose for our lives in the things of the world when the God of all life is present on our altar? Once this truth is understood in our minds and hearts, once the reality of His presence is known, felt, and believed – then does Christ come alive… then is He made visible … Not just here, but in you and in me.

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