As summer approaches,
we think of travel, of journeys to be made whether near or far, though with the high price of gas, the journeys may be more
near than far this year.
But when you fly out of Logan
and have a window seat, do you ever look for familiar landmarks as the plane ascends: Castle Island, or the huge Corita Kent
splashed gas tank in Dorchester, or the Kennedy Museum jutting out from the dark red buildings of U Mass, or the Charles River
winding between Cambridge and Boston? For two minutes our eyes can sweep the
entire city and then we are lost in the clouds.
Some time ago, on a rocket flight
into outer space with an international crew, a Saudi Arabian astronaut recollected, “The first day we all pointed to
our own countries. The third day we were pointing to our continents. By the fifth day, we were all aware of only one Earth.” An
American astronaut, Rusty Schweigert, who walked on the moon noted that from up there the Earth is so small, you can block
it out with your thumb. “Then you realize,” he said, “that
on this beautiful warm blue and white circle, is everything that means anything to you:”
all of nature, history, birth and love. And then you are changed forever. (E. Johnson: Quest for the Living God,
What might be that inner change? I imagine it is a wonder that comes from both a sense of oneness and a love for our
tiny vulnerable, wounded world. And they go together.
While differences are important
and variety a richness, we fundamentally are one and belong to one another. Whatever
creed, culture, color, we are all made in the image and likeness of our God, all children of God, all brothers and sisters
of one another.
Not only are we one, but, more
and more, we recognize the interconnectedness of all things:
The flutter of butterfly wings in Beijing may result days later in a thunderstorm in New York
Dust in the distant Sahara created Katrina in New Orleans.
It is predicted that the melting
ice cap at the North Pole will soon drown islands in the Pacific.
Five years of war over in Iraq
has skyrocketed gas prices here at home.
As we become more conscious of
this oneness and interconnectedness, we are also aware that huge populations of people are on the move, millions on a journey
to seek either freedom or a better life. Immigrants from the south are flooding
into the United States, while refugees from Sudan,
South Africa, Somalia,
are fleeing from their war ravaged countries.
How do our hearts respond?
Today’s liturgy highlights
both this journeying and this oneness.
The Israelites’ journey
from slavery to freedom, a journey of thirst and hunger and hardship is echoed over and over again in the immigrants and refugees
of today. God provided water and manna in the desert then, but God expects us to provide food, clothing, and shelter now.
Why? Because we are one and Jesus is our life giving bread. As
St. Paul puts it: “Because
the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.” Jesus, of course, is the “one loaf.” The Eucharist
points to the oneness of all people redeemed by the saving blood of Jesus, fulfilling God’s desire that “They
may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you …” (Jn. 17.21) Through
receiving the bread of the Eucharist we are to do our part in feeding the hungry of this world.
To put it bluntly: Our world is
faced with a radical choice: wonder or waste.
Wonder leads us to care for our
world and one another, to be ever more sensitive to our environment and ever more sensitive to the poor, most of whom are
immigrants and refugees.
Waste leads us to be careless
about our environment, selfish about our needs, exclusive of others.
I know that both wonder and waste
need to be spelt out more but I think that if we just keep these two words before us, they will help us to be more aware and
discern more carefully our choices and actions. And may the Eucharist we celebrate
today (and every Sunday) foster that sense of the sacredness of all things, a sacredness which moves us to wonder, moves us
to God and to one another.
Kenneth J. Hughes, SJ
Cambridge, MA. 5/25/08