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23 August 2015
posted by Canon Dakin on 03-09-2015

St John was writing the gospel we have just heard about 60 years after the death of Our Lord; he was writing for the second generation of Christians, cementing their faith. For sixty years they had been meeting for the ‘breaking of bread’, the Eucharist. He was expressing what it meant for them: the presence among them of their risen Lord under the appearance of bread and wine. This has been the constant belief of Christians East and West. This is not a belief that sticks out like a sore thumb, uncomfortably isolated.  It fits like a glove into what we believe happens in baptism. In baptism we are molded by the Spirit into the likeness of the Son so that we may relate to the Father as his children, sharing the life of God. We live within the presence of the Trinity.  The presence of Christ in the Eucharist fits into the pattern. The question is not so much do we believe in the real presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist as do we believe in the whole story. That is for us to decide. We must make a decision. We must choose to believe.

I tell my friend “My car will do 120 mph”. He says “I don’t believe it”. “ O.K.     I dare you to come with me on the motorway”. So he comes. He watches the speedometer. If it reaches 120 he has no choice. He must accept the fact.         He has the evidence before his eyes. It is compelling.  When I say: I believe’, I am choosing to take a step on evidence which is sufficient but not compelling. Some people tie themselves up in knots. I have an acquaintance who has declared himself to be agnostic because he is all the time wrestling with St Thomas Aquinas’ philosophical proofs of the existence of God and failing to see the point. If only he would step outside the ring and look with the simplicity of Bernadette at the experience of Lourdes, or at the courage and persistence of the children at Fatima testifying to their vision. Basically, for us, the question is why would twelve ordinary men walk away from family, friends and a good job to spend the rest of their lives witnessing to what they had seen and heard of Jesus of Nazareth, whilst waiting in the wings is a man called Paul whose life was turned upside down when he was confronted by the risen Jesus. You take it or leave it. It is a question not so much of opening our minds as of opening our hearts. Actually to take the step and to say ‘I believe’ we need a nudge, we need to be disposed towards the truth, a disposition which is within God’s gift. That is why conversion is a matter not so much of argument as of prayer.    

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