The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Lectionary: 169

Then taking the five loaves and the two fish,
and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing over them, broke them,
and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.
They all ate and were satisfied.
And when the leftover fragments were picked up,
they filled twelve wicker baskets.

I have never been called a chef, or even a cook, but I've noticed two things about such people. They want everyone to be satisfied with their food, and they want everyone to have more than enough. Jesus, it appears, was a master chef. 

Something else I've noticed: I have been stationed at two retreat houses and it doesn't matter how good  the preaching is, if they don't like the food they won't come back. People keep coming back to the Eucharist, who is Jesus. 

It may seem odd, now that the Easter Season is behind us and we're settling into the summer, to celebrate a Celebration -- that is the Eucharist. But Hollywood celebrates itself with the Oscars and baseball celebrates baseball with its mid-summer all-star game. So we pause to thank God for the gift of Thanking God. 

The Eucharist is what keeps me coming back. When I was lower than a snake's belly with depression, I still attended the Eucharist. I could manage it when I presided and I could endure it when I simply attended with others. I could not attend Penance; it was unbearable; but I went to Mass. I didn't feel good, you understand; I found no particular comfort in the Mass. But I kept going for no reason that I could discern. God wanted to feed me and so my spirit drew me to it despite the pain in my brain. 

I am always sad when World War II and Vietnam-era Veterans tell me they quit attending the Mass when it changed. I am sure that's not the reason but I don't have an answer for them. I wish I could record and replay what one old fellow said just the other day, "The Mass has never changed." He was not disputing anyone else's testimony; I'm not sure why he said it. Perhaps a prophetic spirit fell on him and he spoke what I needed to hear, rather than what he needed to say. But it was such a joy to hear it. And it's absolutely true. 

As the priest intones during the Easter Vigil, "Jesus Christ, yesterday and today, the beginning and the ending, Alpha and Omega; all time belongs to him, and all ages; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever.

How can the Eucharist change if it is the Lord? 

Today's readings from Genesis, First Corinthians and Luke remind us of the tradition of the Eucharist. It first "appears" in Genesis, "indistinctly, as in a mirror" when Melchizedek, the priest king of Jerusalem, "brought out bread and wine" and blessed Abram "by God Most High."
It reappeared again, more clearly, when Jesus fed the crowds with only a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. 

Finally, it was revealed clearly to those who have eyes to see during the Last Supper. Saint Paul points to the Church tradition, already firmly-established, in his First Letter to the Corinthians. Though the rite will adapt many languages and appear in sundry places -- outdoors and indoors, homes, cathedrals and prison camps -- it will remain the same. First we celebrate the Word of God; then we take bread, bless it, break it and share it among us. Jesus used those four gestures and we do the same with the Offertory, Eucharistic Prayer, Fraction and Distribution.We have never missed a Sunday since the Day he rose from the dead.  

Someday all the Earth and its inhabitants will see the Lord clearly. No one will complain about seeing indistinctly, as in a mirror on that day. God's justice will be revealed; God's mercy will be manifest; and Earth will rejoice in the Real Presence of Jesus. 

1 comment:

  1. The Eucharist is the reason I am alive. Without it, I'm pretty sure I would be dead by now.


I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.