Memories Make the Future | Fr. John Navone, SJ | Homiletic & Pastoral Review
Remembering is essential to the life of the people of God
The eucharistic worship of the Christian community is a response to the imperative of divine love: “Do this is commemoration of me” (Lk 22:19). The eucharistic celebration reenacts Christ’s sacrifice and expresses the Church’s remembering: “This is my body which shall be give up for your; do this in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11:24-25; Heb 10:3). The accounts of the institution of the eucharist indicate that the saving power present in the past event is operative each time that event is “remembered” (anamnesis) in a cultic reenactment that bespeaks the dynamic communion of God and his people.
The community of faith throughout the entire biblical tradition has been called to tell its story to others. Jesus affirmed that those who love him will keep his word and share it with others (Jn 14:24); that the Spirit, whom his Father will send us in his name, will teach us the meaning of his life story and remind us of it (Jn 14:26). Loving the Lord means remembering his story and making it our own through the gift of his Spirit. In fact, our communicating his Spirit in word and deed tells his story and witnesses to his presence (Jn 16:27). Loving him means keeping his commandments to love one another (Jn 14:15), sharing with others what God has done for us, and is continuing to do for us through the gift of his Spirit, which motivates and impels our telling of God’s goodness. Remembering and telling the story is our sharing of God’s goodness in compliance with the commandment/law to love one another. The lex narrandi obliges the community of faith to tell of God’s wonderful deeds; it demands that their goodness be shared and communicated.
The Psalmist summons the community of faith to tell this story because of its God-given responsibility for the faith and hope of future generations:
Listen to this law, my people…
what we have heard and known for ourselves,
and what our ancestors have told us,
must not be withheld from their descendants,
that is: the titles of God, his power
and the miracles he has done.
When he issued the decrees for Jacob
and instituted a law in Israel,
he gave our ancestors strict order
to teach it to the children;
he next generation was to learn it,
and children still to be born,
and these in their turn were to tell their own children
so that they too would put their confidence in God,
never forgetting God’s achievement,
and always keeping his commandments. (Ps 78:1-7)
We must remember the story of God’s saving deeds, and tell it because we are responsible for communicating our God-given faith and hope to others.