Sunday Reflection - Corpus Christi - Year C

Sunday Reflection - Corpus Christi - Year C

Posted: Sat, 18 Jun 2022 10:24

Sunday Reflection - Corpus Christi - Year C

I well remember our parish Catechists preparing our First Holy Communion children for their special day—the day they were admitted to full communion with their families and friends at the altar of Eucharist. All the children took part in dressing the altar, at the offertory, as they placed upon the table a 'gleaming cloth of white', followed by the bread and wine. Finally, they made the symbolic offering of themselves in service of the Lord. This beautiful hymn, written by Michael Joncas, emphasises that all, regardless of age, ethnicity and social status are welcome to Communion with Jesus.

We gather 'round your table
We pause within our quest
We stand beside our neighbours
We name the stranger guest
The feast is spread before us
You bid us come and dine
In blessing, we'll uncover
In sharing, we'll discover
Your substance and your sign

This offertory procession always made a deep impact on all of us gathered for Mass—some, including myself, being moved to tears. I will always be grateful to Sandra, Bro Ste, Diana, Deacon Michael and, the then, Bro Greg for making our liturgy so alive and inclusive. It certainly lived up to the expectation of Pope Francis in his recent reflection on Liturgy, as he warned against excessive formalism, rather…

…to focus on forms, formalities rather than reality, as we see today in those movements that try to go backwards and deny the Second Vatican Council. Then the celebration is recitation, it is something without life, without joy
. (11/05/2022)

We need this feast of Corpus Christi to remind us just how blessed we are. In his last meal with the 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. However, our liturgy today points to the Feeding of the 5000, as recorded in Luke's Gospel. After the pastoral mission of the Apostles and hearing of the death of John the Baptist, Jesus was hoping for quiet retreat time in Bethsaida. However, the crowd had other ideas: they followed him, wanting to feast on his words and example:

He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God and healed those who needed healing. (Lk 9:11)

In the middle of ministry, Jesus offers his time, energy, and healing ministry to the crowd. When the disciples, probably exhausted from their own ministry mission, wanted to send them away to get food in the local villages, Jesus saw need to help them. At this time, their greatest need was for food and drink: he asks the apostles to give up their own fish sandwiches in order to do something to relieve the hunger. If they are prepared to give something, Jesus can transform it—this is no divine magic trick, rather an opportunity to give up selfishness and share the bread of life. 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 the people we think that do not count that 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? Today is the time to take up the challenge of Jesus, as he asks of us, "You give them something to eat." (Lk 9:13). If we truly feast of 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 couple of years have taken us through great highs and lows, as we have battled the pandemic and the horror of war on our doorstep. 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' and then Jesus died. The very last thing Jesus says to his Father is forgive, forgive, forgive, forgive. There is 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 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 feed the hungry, and 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', as the hymn by Vaughn Williams proclaims. 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. (23/06/2019)

Author: Fr Gerry O'Shaughnessy SDB

Image: Photo by Pietro De Grandi on Unsplash

Tags: Homepage, Sunday Reflection