It was 6:00 on a frigid January morning that my phone rang. I coughed quick to help clear away my morning voice, but failed and croaked out a pitiful, “Hello?”
“Good morning! This is the Albany Postal Service. We have a box of chicks here waiting for you!”
Phillip and his turkey chick
It was then that the tired fog lifted from my brain and I remembered that today was the day that our baby turkeys were coming! I ran down the steps to wake up my oldest son.
We braved the dark, icy roads and made it safely to town and back. When he opened the box, I couldn’t believe how TINY the little birds were! These precious little birds were solely dependent upon Phillip to care for them. And care for them he did for the next 7 months when the county fair rolled around.
His two biggest turkeys got to spend their vacation being doted on by curious fair-goers and had the time of their lives. Lives which were cut short come August. We had 8, thirty-some pound turkeys burning through feed and my wallet.
This year, I have the privilege of hosting my family Thanksgiving. What do you suppose we are serving? You are darn right. That juicy monster turkey will be slow roasted for 12 hours in my oven. I will go to bed with a freaky looking cold bird covered in butter, aromatics and seasonings, but I will wake to the tantalizing smell of perfection.
Phillip and Grandpa Joe with Phil's blue ribbon turkey.
We will share a meal centered around this turkey. We will say grace, carve it, and share it amongst ourselves. This is such a striking carnivorous example of the beauty of what we experience at the mass. Bread that is blessed, broken and shared among us. Only in the Eucharist, what we are eating isn’t something that was once alive, (like my turkey), but something, rather Someone, Who IS alive!
When Jesus was teaching about the Eucharist, He said in John 6, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.”
The Greek word that Jesus used for eat is trogo. This word is more accurately described as “gnaw” or “chew”. This moment is the turning point in Jesus’ ministry. It is why Jesus went from being an incredibly popular public figure to being abandoned by almost everyone but those closest to Him.
The only explanation for the use of such a strong word is that He really means what He says! “This IS my body. This IS my blood.” This is NOT a symbol. This is NOT a quaint ritual that we do to remember the Last Supper. This IS Jesus, body, blood, soul and divinity. This IS a BIG DEAL!
Jesus, truly present in the Eucharist.
This year, I encourage you and your family to attend mass on Thanksgiving. Go to mass and give thanks for your many blessings in the most powerful way possible. I promise you that if you do, your turkey dinner will be a much more sacred experience.
Until next time, your sister in Christ,