17 April 2024

Dance, monkey!

3rd Week of Easter (W)

Fr. Philip Neri Powell OP
St. Albert the Great, Irving

Yesterday the crowd was yelling at Jesus to perform a miracle. “What can you do?” What tricks can you perform to prove who you are. I thought of that popular song from a few years ago, “Dance Monkey.” Basically, they were poking Jesus with a stick and shouting “dance, monkey!” Rather than dance, Jesus reminded them that God gave Moses and his crew of former slaves manna from heaven. “My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Then, to make things more exciting, he adds, “I am the bread of life.” They see him, but they do not believe. And who can blame them? Here's a 33yo rabbi, a human male, claiming to be a piece of divine bread. Is he saying that he himself is manna from heaven? How is this possible? And even if it is possible and true, what are we supposed to do with this information? What all this means becomes clear at the Last Supper. And it is finished on the Cross. We now know that Jesus was referring to his body and blood in the Eucharist. But has this truth penetrated to the heart of our lives in prayer? Are we still poking at Jesus and shouting, “Dance, monkey!” when we pray?

IOW, are you hanging back in the crowd waiting for Jesus to do something amazing to prove his power? It might seem natural for the limited creatures that we are to want objective, verifiable evidence that Jesus is who he says he is. Or, even if we believe him when he tells us that's he's the Son of God, the Messiah, to hesitate and wait for proof. But there's almost always a rational explanation for what seems like a miracle. And if there is, we write it off and continue waiting. Dance, monkey! No, no. . .dance better. While we are waiting in our demanding prayer, our prayer for a fool-proof miracle, we miss the abundant gifts that God lays out before us. The small gifts, the subtle gifts, the gifts that accumulate over time and add up to a life given holiness and peace. The desert manna fed Moses' ex-slaves for forty years. They got tired of it and complained. The Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist has fed the Church for 2,000 years. Is there a greater miracle? Are you tired of it? We see and hear the Son in the Eucharist. We eat and drink. And we grow toward eternal life. The “monkey” can't dance better than that.

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