Project Description

Body and Blood of Christ (A) Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14B-16A  / 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 / John 6:51-58

 

Let’s take a little test?

 

It’s a test Professor Tom Postmes—

a professor of social psychology at

the University of Groningen in the Netherlands

has been giving his students for years.

 

It’s just one question. . .

 

Here’s the scenario:

 

Imagine that an airplane makes

an emergency landing.

 

The aircraft starts filling with smoke—

and everybody inside realizes,

“We’ve got to get out of here.”

 

What happens?

 

On Planet A—

the passengers turn to their

neighbors to ask if they’re ok.

 

Those needing assistance are

helped out of the plane first.

 

People are willing to sacrifice—

even give their lives for perfect strangers.

 

That’s what happens on Planet A.

 

Now on Planet B,

this is what happens.

 

Everyone is left to fend for themselves.

 

Panic breaks out.

 

There’s lots of pushing and shoving.

 

 

Children—

the elderly—

people with disabilities get

trampled as everyone makes

a mad rush to get out of the plane.

 

Now the professor asks this question:

Which planet do we live on?

 

Well, which one?

 

Planet A or Planet B?

 

Professor Postmes estimates

that about 97% of us answer

that we live on Planet B.

 

Every person for himself.

Mayhem. . . .

Chaos!!!

 

Well, according to the research—

research that is both abundant and consistent—

in almost every case of disaster and emergency. . . .

 

We live on Planet A.

 

Where we turn to our

neighbors to ask if they’re ok. . . .

 

Where those needing assistance are

helped first. . . .

 

Where many are willing

to sacrifice for perfect strangers.

 

According to the professor—

it didn’t matter—

left or right—

rich or poor—

uneducated or well-read. . . .

 

we overwhelmingly make the

same error in judgment.

 

Even in some of the most

well-known disasters—

the evidence shows that we live on Planet A.

 

Take the sinking of the Titanic.

 

Eyewitnesses report that the

evacuation was very orderly.

 

One Titanic passenger said:

“there was no indication of panic or hysteria,

no cries of fear—

and no running to and fro.”

 

Now if you watched the movie—

you’d think we live on Planet B.

 

Or take 9/11.

 

As the twin towers burned,

thousands of people descended the stairs. . . .

calmly.

 

Eyewitnesses report that those trying to

get out of the building

would step aside for firefighters—

and for the injured

 

One survivor reported:

“I couldn’t believe it,

that at this point people would actually say,

‘No, no, please take my place.’”

 

The research is abundant and consistent. . . .

We live on Planet A.

 

Why do we believe otherwise?

 

Why do we so strongly believe

that we live on Planet B?

 

Well, it’s very complex and there are many reasons.

 

But of them is something social scientists

call our “negativity bias.”

We humans are generally more

attuned to the bad

rather than the good.

 

This negativity bias is probably evolutionary.

 

Back in our hunting and gathering days

having too much fear about what

could happen wouldn’t kill us. . . .

actually it was advantageous.

 

But let your guard down too much. . .

well that was another story.

 

And speaking of evolution—

scientists now know that the

“cooperation gene” was much more

influential than the “selfish gene.”

 

And another BIG reason we

tend to believe we live on Plane B

while the research suggests otherwise—

is the “availability bias.”

 

If we can easily recall examples of something. . . .

we assume that it’s relatively common.

 

And in the social media and digital age—

With the 24 hour news cycle—

We are constantly—

constantly—

bombarded with the negative and the violent—

with mayhem and chaos.

 

So that’s what stays on our minds?

 

We don’t like boredom—

We won’t watch boredom.

 

There’s no news crew sitting in

my dad’s neighborhood in Versailles

recording how peaceful things are. . . .

 

and even if there were. . . .

we wouldn’t watch it.

Thinking we live on Planet B

when we actually live on Planet A

has been termed by one leading

researcher as “mean world syndrome.”

 

The symptoms?

 

Cynicism—

Pessimism—

Hopelessness—

Depression.

 

One researcher I read said that

following the news too much

is a mental health hazard.

 

But the good news is—

in general—

most people are decent—

who act decently—

most of the time.

 

Did you know that the number of people

living in extreme poverty has decreased 137,000. . . .

since yesterday.

 

That daily decrease in extreme poverty

has been going on for 25 years.

 

A lot of good things are happening!!!

 

I’m happy to say this view of humanity

is the Catholic position.

 

Official Catholic teaching on

human anthropology has never subscribed

to the total depravity of humanity.

 

We Catholics maintain

that we are made in the image of God. . .

 

and with God’s grace—

and with our cooperation—

we can grow into the likeness to God—

we can become more and more like Jesus.

 

Now are we angels?

 

Of course not!!!

 

Original sin is alive and well

We do have the tendency to miss the mark.

 

We are complex and interesting creatures—

We are capable of some horrific things.

 

The racism and violence and poverty

that we do see is real—

it’s just not the whole story.

 

In general—

most people are decent—

who act decently—

most of the time.

 

That’s why it’s been so edifying

to see so many people—

people of all races—

coming together to protest against racial injustice. . . .

 

And regardless of what we do see on the news. . . .

it’s been mostly peaceful.

 

Now what does all of this

have to do with the

the Body and Blood of Christ?

 

What does it have to do with the Eucharist?

 

Well I think a lot.

 

You’ve probably heard the tale of

a grandfather who tells his grandson. . . .

 

“There a fight going on inside me.

It’s a terrible fight between two wolves”. . . .

 

“One wolf is evil—

arrogant and angry and greedy”

 

And the other wolf is good—

generous and peaceful and humble.

 

“These two wolves are also fighting

within you too,” the grandfather said . . . .

“and inside every other person too.”

 

After a moment, the boy asks,

“Which wolf will win?

 

The grandfather smiles. . . .

“the one you feed.”

 

The one you feed!!!!!

 

You see Brothers and sisters in Christ,

when we read the Good Book—

when we pay attention to the words of Jesus.

it becomes obvious that we Christians are

not called to be “merely decent most of the time.”

 

We are called to be something more—

We are called to be other Christs.

 

We are called to transcend “mere decency.”

 

And when we do. . . .

When we do. . . .

 

Don’t think for a moment that the

Christian witnesses over our

2000 year history hasn’t had

an impact in promoting the

dignity and equality of all human beings.

 

The civil rights movement in the United States

was essentially a Christian led movement—

and it must continue to be.

 

Throughout our history—

The Catholic Church has been

one of leaders in fighting poverty.

 

And what do we Catholics feed ourselves with

to become other Christs?

 

We feed ourselves with His Body and His Blood—

so with that grace—

we can transcend mere human decency. . .

 

And when we do. . . .

Planet A starts looking more and more

like the Kingdom of God.

 

Holy Spirit 06/13-14/2020