June 2, Corpus Christi

The Feast of Corpus Christi celebrates our belief that Jesus is really and truly present in the Eucharist, and hence, in what we refer to as the Blessed Sacrament. The reality of the Blessed Sacrament is profound and defies any fully accurate description or definition. While we can experience you really present, we can’t put it into words, and so the doctrine of Real Presence is a good description of our experience.

A good starting point for an insight into you becoming one of us is, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Everything you did while among us comes from this. While my sense of love is more focused on me,  your love is for us and for all creation. Is this how you are inviting me to know love?

In the Story you bless the bread and wine, give thanks, and say, “Take this, this is my body”. You give yourself freely and totally to your people. You ask me to let you come into me and invite me to come into you, so we can become as one together. Your friends spent a great deal of time with you, and came to see what you are about. Is this what you want of me? How do you want me to do this?

You are asking me to help you bring Abba’s healing love to people who are hurting wherever I meet them. We are doing this together. You ask me to help with people’s healing, not add to their suffering. But then I have to let you show me my own fears and prejudices, something that is very uncomfortable for me to do. It is easier to point out other people’s faults than to let you help me face my own. How am I acting in ways that I criticize others for? In my own way I am suffering too, as are all of us. You offer us Abba’s healing care, if we will accept it, and we have that choice. You are asking me to bring Abba’s care to people who are hurting. This is something scary. What about people I don’t like for whatever reason? How do I get past my fears and prejudices? How do I make my life a journey of saying yes to you instead of looking to my own comfort and even safety?

Pope Francis reminds us that sharing in your life and your love is not a reward for good behavior, but a healing that we all need, and that as your followers we’re called to be like a military field hospital after a battle, something I have some experience with. Thinking back to what I did back then, we all worked hard to help all the wounded, both our own and the “enemy’s”, and we did some amazing stuff. We all had our roles to fill, and the focus was on helping the wounded and encouraging each other, jumping in wherever we were needed, doing what we had to do as best we could. Our mission was to help, not to judge, and we did it well.

But that was then. Do I need the same sense of mission and urgency today with the violence, anger, and polarization all around us in politics and religion? How do I serve our people who feel cut off and disowned by various church traditions simply because of how they see themselves or who they love? They are hurting. How do I live Abba’s compassion and healing with people who are kept from sharing in your life by some religious traditions and their self-appointed enforcers who also need Abba’s love?

In celebrating Eucharist I encounter you here and now in the midst of all that is going on. I have done this many times in circumstances that would disturb liturgical purists, often in the midst of chaos and fear. I find great joy and peace celebrating you present in the Eucharist and in all that is, but I don’t know how to convey this joy to others. When you gave us yourself in the bread and wine you were about to be abused, broken, and bleeding. Is this where we are in the brokenness among us now? We believe you are really and truly present in the Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament. Many of us have made your presence a kind of thing, an object, something we can get, “receive”, that is outside ourselves rather than a relationship that we are living together. You are present in the tabernacle, but you are also present in all creation, as you have been since the beginning. When we make it an object that only we have and nobody else has, we don’t have to look to any growth in ourselves. We can just “go to communion” and then get on with our real lives. The focus is on worshipping you, which you never asked us to do. You ask us to imitate you, which is a lot harder. The recent story about the priest allegedly biting a woman to “protect” the hosts because she was not receiving communion in the “right” way, is an extreme example of this. You gave yourself to everybody, but various traditions, differing among themselves, restricted your gift, deciding who’s in and who’s out, who can draw near to you and who cannot, having all the answers how people should live. For many traditions the aim is to protect themselves at all costs, keep things neat and orderly and all the people in line. Following the rules is more important than being open to you. And so the hurting continues. This reflects the the time when you were among us. You lived Abba’s love and healing one person at a time. Is there something you are asking me to do in all this? Do you really speak only through one small group of people, only one religious tradition? Do you really want to keep some of your people away from you?

You continually remind me you are not “out there”, but very much “in here”, in me, in every one of us, in all creation. Having shared the Meal with you and accepted you giving yourself to them, “they went out to the Mount of Olives.” And so together we walk ahead knowing you are with us, yet we still try to control you. Then you showed them the cross, letting go of the need to feel in control and safe, accepting and sharing Abba’s love and willingly paying the price. Not sure what this means for me. Just sayin  .  .  .