Corpus Christi (Note & Bulletin)

A Jesuit once told me that for an Experiment, while in Formation, he was to go to Mexico and live with a family. He objected, saying he didn’t speak Spanish and so could be of little use to the people. His Superior said, “Exactly!” The Jesuit was told he needed to learn how to receive. This Sunday we celebrate Corpus Christi, the feast in which we receive the Lord’s body, the sacrament of His love. Like my Jesuit friend, when we think of the Christian life we most often focus on our actions. In the little introduction for this Sunday in themissalette, the author lists examples of injustice in our world that the Christian is called to respond to in some way. While certainly true, it also, in a way, puts the cart before the horse. If we seek a world that is more just and loving we first need to receive love in our hearts in order to share it.

The devotion which Catholics have always given to the Eucharist over the centuries is an indication of the unique place the Sacrament holds in our faith. In the Scripture, when Jesus gives the sacrament at the Last Supper, he gives us the key to understand and receive the gift of his body and blood when he says “Do this in memory of me.” When these words are proclaimed in the Mass and every time we come up to receive the Eucharist, the Lord invites us to remember the origin and meaning of this sacramental gift.

When we come forward to receive the Eucharist there is no more time to get our lives in perfect order. So we come up as we are. As we come to receive we remember what the Lord has done. We know that following the Last Supper he experienced agony in the garden, that he was arrested, questioned, humiliated, beaten and crucified. It is precisely this that the Lord asks us to remember, and we remember not a story that deepens our sense of guilt, rather his experience which frees us to love through his sacrifice. His sacrifice is Christ’s most beautiful expression of love for each of us. A love we are asked to receive – a gift it is hard for us to receive. We often think of our faults and our failings, we often struggle remembering those things we could have and should have done but did not. But our focus should not be on ourselves, but on him. One of my favourite moments in the Mass is when the Eucharist is elevated and we all say “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” It is special because when I look at the Eucharist at this moment, so too do I see the ceiling and roof of Lourdes. We are saying that we are unworthy for the Lord to come under our roof and yet the moment those words are spoken the Risen Lord is present under our roof. It seems to me that our focus on our faults and failings or sins of omission are not really helpful. Nor is it an appropriate response to the gift the Lord is offering.

Like my Jesuit friend we need to learn to receive. There are no ulterior motives, there are no subtle qualifications, and there are no restrictions. Our God comes to each of us and offers himself as he is, that is, perfect love. As Catholic Christians we are a Eucharistic people. And as a Eucharistic people, it means we are a people rooted and grounded in his love. The Church we seek to build and community we hope to mold must then be marked by love. The world we seek to heal must also be marked by love. On the Solemnity of Corpus Christi we can see and know a little bit more clearly who we are in God’s life: we are the ones for whom he gave his life; we are the ones for whom he has proclaimed, and proclaims, he has love. As we come forward at Communion this Sunday, let us receive his gift, let us receive his love.

God Bless and Take Care!
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