Nearness of God is real!
When God created us, God made companion’s not “spur-of-the-moment” acquaintances. No Indeed! God wanted to be surrounded by “dear” friends--He truly wanted to be “best friends forever” with us. God was in our friendship for keeps and He wanted us to be there too. To this end, God fulfilled His part of by sending Jesus to insure the commitment. Now we have the nearness of our God through Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ. Every time we receive the Eucharist, we embrace the nearness of our God in our lives, in our times and in our world.
Jesus is traveling with us on our pilgrimage to Heaven, which is just another way that God is assured of our safe arrival. And it provides God with opportunities to participate in our lives. How? God does it when Eucharist is celebrated.
When we celebrate our joys, the birth of a new son or daughter, or choose that special someone with whom we want to spend the rest of our lives, we do it with Jesus in Eucharist. It is in Eucharist that God says silently that we are "best friends forever.”
At other times we may gather with family and friends to mourn the loss of a close friend or loved one, or bear another burden too difficult to carry alone--it is at such times that we know our God is near, but felt in different ways.
At the recent funeral of Beau Biden, the 46 year old son of our Vice –President, Joseph Biden, his family sat together in the Church pew--clinging tightly to each other. Although heartbroken by the loss of this gallant young man, their touching seemed to inspire them with the love they share as a family.
It was evident their hearts were stricken with grief, for a bright light was taken from them, but the love for one another woven in their lives was so real and so vigorous it literally poured over the entire family giving them a glow of hope and joy that seemed to overpower their sorrow. As Beau's siblings shared their words about their brother, the nearness of God shined through and was felt by the entire congregation. This is Eucharist, i.e., Jesus' presence rising up from that deeply shared love.
It reminded me of a quote: “The strange beauty of suffering is the beauty of having others help us overcome our suffering.” God’s nearness always emanates from those that love, and willingly share it with those who need it.
When Jesus directed us to “Love God and Love our Neighbor,” Jesus reminded us love works in the reverse too. When we love our neighbor, we also love our God. As I listened to the Biden family eulogize Beau, I understood “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” God meant we comfort for Him. When we do, the nearness of God glimmers and sparkles, as it did that day in the church.
And no matter how broken or crushed we feel, Eucharist will continue to lead us to “the supper of the lamb.” For at this table, like Beau, and the others who have gone before us, we will experience the “nearness of God” and there we will all be “best friends forever.”