A reflection for the feast of Corpus Christi 2015

Exodus 24:3-8 – Hebrews 9:11-15 – Mark 14:12-16, 22-26

‘This is my body which is given for you.’ (Luke 22:19)                         

Jesus put his body on the line for us at many levels. First of all, he wore the garment of our flesh. But especially in the last three years of his life he put his body at our disposal.

Think of all the places in the New Testament where the body of Christ went. When he walked to Nain, or to Cana, or to the grave of Lazarus… he gave his feet, his body, to the people.

‘This is my body which is given for you’.

When he took the daughter of Jairus by the hand, or pulled Peter from the sea, he gave them his hand.

‘This is my body which is given for you.’

On the cross he took the giving of his body to another level, when he gave his very life in sacrifice for us.

‘This is my body which is given for you.’

To ensure that this giving of his body would not be locked into a specific time or place in history, he took this giving to a new level, a timeless level, in fact to two new timeless levels.         

In the first, Christ is present and lives on in his church. St Paul tells us, ‘You are the body of Christ.’ (1 Corinthians 12:27)

The other timeless level of giving is in the Eucharist.

We said that there are different levels or layers of giving, different layers of presence by Christ in the New Testament. By these different layers of presence, we, the children of God, are all wrapped up in the divine, in the vest, and shirt, and jumper, and jacket of God’s warm love, protection and care. These are like a divine thermal jacket for all, for all, who want to wear the divine presence.

Paul tells us, ‘Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.’ (Romans 13:14) and ‘I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me.’ (Galatians 2:20)

There is a vital energy, a driving force under these givings of Christ, whether it’s putting his hands, or feet, or body or life at our disposal, or giving us the Eucharist, ‘This is my body which is given for you.’

This underlying force or energy we call love. It’s the greatest force in the universe.

There is a hunger in everyone for love, companionship and affirmation. Children, deprived of this love, are psychologically damaged and scarred for life. Even animals need affirmation. Take for example the family dog. It will respond by wagging its tale, and comes when its name is called. It loves to be rubbed and patted and touched.

We did not invent this energy called love, it’s from God. ‘God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son.’ (John 3:35) This love of Christ for us reaches its high point in the Eucharist. ‘This is my body which is given for you.’

‘I am the living bread that comes down from heaven.’ (John 6:35) The bread of God fresh from the bakery of heaven every day, a bit of heaven, a bite of heaven. And like love, this bread has no sell by date, and won’t go stale.

The danger is, that it is we ourselves who can go stale and musty, if we allow the Mass or Eucharist to become a mere habit. We must avoid the habit of ticking the God box in our Mass, and then leave it behind in the church, as we move across a secularised day, to be picked up again tomorrow or another day, like a book or hymnal. The realities of daily life can so often elbow out God from the lives of people, and even from our own lives.

What is trivial can often loom large, and the things of God can so easily be relegated to the background. The raised up bread and chalice at the Offertory, must carry our day and the people’s day, our hopes mingled with theirs. From our lives and their lives we squeeze out, the hurt and the happiness, the pain and the pleasure, the problems and the peace, and overflow our chalice with them.

We pile them also onto our paten, our offered bread swelling at the consecration with the leaven, the yeast of Christ, the raised up lives of priest and people, saturated with the divine.

As the Eucharist flows out from the altar of sacrifice, it must soak into, and saturate, the events and people of our day, colouring everything with the presence of God.

It’s the jacket I spoke of earlier. May we all wear this jacket of God’s loving presence every day, and not leave it behind in the church after Mass.


Carroll-Tim-BpTomorrow, please God, we will once again, dip our day into God’s presence in the Eucharist, and we will again eat the bread of heaven, the bread of life, to fuel our journey across a new day into God.      

‘This is my body which is given for you.’                                                      

‘The bread of God is that which comes down from heaven.’ Sir, they said, give us this bread always.’ (John 6:33)

Today, hungry for God, we too say, Lord give us this bread always.

Amen.

Bishop Tim Carroll SMA, 7 June 2015