Corpus Christi - 'taste and see how gracious the Lord is'
Posted: Thu, 03 Jun 2021 13:12
I remember Fr McGovern SDB, an amazing music teacher, helping our choir to sing the Vaughan Williams classic, 'O taste and see how gracious the Lord is'. His huge choir stilled the sacred space of Bolton's Victoria Hall: 'blessed is the one that trusteth in HIM!' We need this feast of Corpus Christi to remind us just how blessed we are.
In his last meal with is disciples in the Upper Room, Jesus shares bread that helps us to survive, and wine that helps us to celebrate. One of his last actions before his arrest, torture and death, was to live this Last Supper together. Mark presents this in the context of the great feast of Passover. As they celebrate the greatest act of remembrance in the Jewish calendar, Jesus takes the bread and tells them clearly and simply, 'this is my body.' He shares the chalice of blessing telling his friends, 'this is my blood, the blood of the covenant.' This bread and wine is transformed, no longer simple bread and wine, but the body of Christ—Corpus Christi.
In our celebration of the Eucharist, we are invited to feast on Jesus; to remember his words and life-giving actions; to share his vision and to make sure that everyone is included and counted. It is exactly those people we think do not count who can make miracles happen. What if, in the face of politics and fear and tiny resources and really big problems, what if that little bit we have to offer, that little bit we don't think will count for very much – could change the world? If we truly feast on Jesus, then it can give us a taste for something greater:
*a taste for what we mean to each other;
*a taste for counting the dis-counted;
*a taste for imagining that the little bit you have to offer is the stuff of miracles!
Our experience over these past months have taken us through great highs and lows, as we have battled the pandemic. Our liturgical calendar reflects this great adventure ,as we walked with Jesus through Holy Week, torture, death, Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost. Even in the midst of suffering, Jesus can cry from the cross, 'Father you must forgive them, they are your children. You must forgive them, they don't know what they are doing'. The very last thing Jesus says to his Father is forgive, forgive, forgive, forgive. There's nothing in God except forgiving.
Jesus, who walked the terrible walk of pain, gave himself freely to loving, forgiving and caring. He is always giving new hope to the people who put their faith in him, this Jesus who rose from the dead. In the simplicity of the Upper Room, Jesus looked at the table. It was a celebration of new life, the Passover, passing from death to new life. That was meaning of the Passover: out of the slavery of Egypt into the freedom of a new world. Jesus saw the bread and he took the bread and looked at his disciples who had gathered out of love to celebrate this most beautiful feast, which is still celebrated by our Jewish brothers and sisters every year. He took the bread and he broke it, just like his body was broken on the cross, and he gave it to them: taste and see how gracious the Lord is.
We gather in church or online to keep that memory alive—this was not just some random action of a nice prophet two thousand years ago. The Eucharist is the ultimate act of remembrance, as we follow what Jesus said and did in our own lives. Our Eucharist is not an assembly of those who have done well during the week and need to be rewarded. The Eucharist is needed food for our journey of life: we taste and see how good the Lord is in our lives. The Eucharist is our call to action: To go out and save the world, to heal people, to forgive, to do all the great things that Jesus did his whole life, right up to the end. The Eucharist is our constant reminder to always know that whenever you get discouraged, he is there. Eucharist is the constant presence of Jesus in our lives. The challenge of the Eucharist is to ensure that we are present too; we are called to be a Church that is open and to be available, especially when life is difficult. Today we once again can 'taste and see how gracious the Lord is'—I pray that action will continue to transform our lives. As Pope Francis reminds us:
Every year the feast of Corpus Christi invites us to renew the wonder and joy for this wonderful gift of the Lord, which is the Eucharist. It is Jesus, it is Jesus who saved me, it is Jesus who comes to give me the strength to live. It is Jesus, Jesus alive.
Pope Francis, 23/06/2019
Listen and reflect: O taste and see (Vaughan Williams): St Paul's Cathedral 1977 (Barry Rose)
Fr Gerry O'Shaughnessy SDB
Image: Don Fabiano Fedi via Qumran2.net