Scripture used: Gen 14:18-20 | I Cor 11:23-26 | Lk 9:11b-17
I. ”I, for my part, am already being poured out as a libation. The time has come for
me to be gone. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
This reading, from St. Paul’s second letter to Timothy, is often chosen as a reading
for the funeral Mass of our parishioners. St. Paul is nearing the end of his life
and he must find himself looking back on his missionary work with some degree
of satisfaction. It sounds he feels like he has done his best and he is ready to move
I think it must often be chosen as a funeral reading because it well describes
the lives of our loved ones. Families choose this reading because it reminds them
of their family member who gave of him or herself “as a libation.” A libation is an
offering…it is a giving of self…it is living a sacrificial life.
And I see that so often at the funerals of our parishioners who have spent
their lives in loving service to their families and to their parish and civic
communities. They lived as dedicated spouses, parents and committed members
of their communities. Truly their life was a “libation,” an offering for the sake of
others. Such an approach to living is fundamentally what living as a disciple of
Jesus is all about.
II. It is a lesson which the apostles had to learn and it sounds like that is what Jesus
is trying to teach when he says, “Give them some food yourselves.” Instead of just
giving up and walking away from the hungry people, Jesus challenged them to do
something about it. Put yourself out there and give of yourself for them. Be
willing to sacrifice…offer your life as a libation…an offering for others.
The feeding of the five thousand is symbolic of the Eucharist. The language
clearly points to that: Jesus took the loaves and the fish…looked up to heaven…
blessed them…broke them…and gave them to the disciples to distribute. Clearly
this is Eucharistic language enshrined in the Mass we celebrate today.
The Mass only comes to us because of Jesus’ sacrifice – his offering of his
body and blood for our sake. Jesus’ offering is the ultimate “libation,” the
ultimate offering of oneself for the sake of others – in Jesus’ case, an offering for
the salvation of the entire world. The Mass points to what we are supposed to
III. When we come to celebrate the Mass and participate in this Eucharistic action,
we are making a commitment. We are uniting ourselves to the sacrifice of Jesus
and his offering of his life. By our participation in the Eucharist we are saying
that is what we want to do as well.
We come forward to receive the Eucharist and we respond “Amen.” That
“Amen” is an affirmation of faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
It is a way to make that commitment: as I come forward to receive the Eucharist
I am making the commitment to live out what I receive – namely, as Jesus died
for my sake, so I, in turn, wish to do the same.
That means sharing of what if have with others. Archbishop Jackels likes to
remind us that whatever we have – whether that is our material possessions,
our natural talents, our personality even – it is all on loan from God: we have a
responsibility to take care of it and we have a responsibility to share it for the
good of others.
In the first reading we see Abram doing that. As a way to express his
gratitude to Melchizedek for his offering, Abram gave him a tenth of everything
he had. This is the biblical one-tenth tithe we so often hear about.
This applies also to our time and our talent – to our whole person. We are
called to live our lives in sacrificial service to others. That is what our family
members do when they offer their lives in love for their families – as committed
spouses, parents and grandparents.
IV. ”Give them something to eat yourselves.” In the gospel, Jesus put the apostles to
work. He provided the abundance; he asked the apostles to distribute it. God
gives us the abundance: it is up to us to share it with others.
As we come to the end of our lives, may we be like St. Paul and so many of
our parishioners who can look back on their lives with satisfaction and tell
themselves, “I’ve done my best; I’ve poured out my life like a libation.”
(Fr. Dwayne Thoman)