Baxter has a weight problem. I don’t like to remind him of it too often. When I call him a “fat cat” he gets insulted. I have had him on special weight control food from the veterinarian for many years. It costs me a bundle; it hasn’t worked; but Baxter is fat and happy with it, so I continue to provide the “special formula.” I swear to the vet that I only feed him a half a cup a day. She tells me that a weight problem is common in neutered, indoor male cats. They don’t get enough exercise roaming and hunting for food. Why spend energy when provisions are provided for you? Baxter isn’t dumb, just overweight.
Perhaps we need to consider the same question when it comes to our faith life. Hopefully, we feed our spirits on the Bread of Life every week or more often. We take in Christ through the Eucharist’s word, sacrament, community and leadership. We digest the message of the scriptures, and we draw close to the Lord in communion with His very Body and Blood. We enjoy the fellowship of the assembly gathered to offer worship, and we acknowledge Christ the Shepherd and Priest in the presider at the altar. We take it all in, but what do we do with it once the celebration is concluded.
Eucharist is not a bedtime snack to sleep on. It is food for the journey to give us the energy we need to keep moving through life’s encounters and challenges in faith. When we are told to “Go in peace,” this isn’t an injunction to rest and relax, but to go about the mission of the church with a sense of peaceful confidence and trust in God as we spread the Word and witness to God’s love for all in service. Evangelization is not something added on to our faith once we have free time from all the important things we do each day. It is making the mission of the Eucharist part of those important things. What we see and hear at worship we need to work at making visible, heard and effective in our daily activities. Certainly, we have to carry out our jobs efficiently and competently, but we also need to do so with a sense of caring for those affected by our work. We need to recognize opportunities to speak and offer guidance for upholding what we believe about God and humanity, not with a sense of self-righteous indignation but of humble respect for others that our faith allows us to see.
A Eucharistic attitude and style isn’t easy to achieve. That’s why we come back week after week to worship together and renew our communion in God with each other. But we worship not just for ourselves. We gather for Eucharist to become God’s agents in the world. Through the Holy Spirit Who renews His mark on us at every Eucharist, we are commissioned to transform the situations we face each day to be more Christ-like, more loving and generous, more respectful and hopeful, more transparent to the holy.
Baxter isn’t totally to blame for being fat and lazy. I don’t give him a lot to do around the house. But God charges us at every Eucharist to build the Kingdom, to make over the world as He wants it to be for us, to be evangelizers who give to others what we receive at Eucharist. There’s no place for fat and lazy Catholic Christians in the divine scheme of things. We are on a journey to the Kingdom, and everyone who is fed on the Body and Blood of Christ is sent to do Christ’s work on the way.