Corpus Christi (May 29, 2016)

Corpus Christi (May 29, 2016)


Bread has been a staple food for thousands of years.  Some people love bread; they could make a whole meal out of it.  Today others treat bread like it’s poison—though of course for those with gluten intolerance it pretty much is.  This year on the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, the readings that we have all mention bread.  Melchizedek, priest of God and king of Salem, gives thanks to God for Abram’s victory by offering bread and wine.  Luke and Paul tell of two different times when Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and shared it: in the feeding of the 5000 and in the institution of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper.  In the feeding of the 5000, Jesus, with His power of God, satisfies the physical hunger of the people.  And of course this feeding points to the Eucharist, through which we are spiritually fed as in no other way, satisfied and sustained by the very presence of Christ’s Body and Blood, the “bread of life” and “our spiritual drink.” 


But we are not just passive receivers of the gifts of God.  It means, too, that we share in the mission of Christ.  It means that we, like Christ, are called to give of ourselves for the good of others.  None of this is always easy, and in fact it can often be quite challenging; and it is easy to forget who we are as people made in the image and likeness of the God and members of the Body of Christ.  But in being the Body of Christ we are drawn into the divine wellspring of grace.  Even here on earth we are given a share in God’s life.  This happens through the Sacraments, and in particular through the Eucharist, in which we receive the Body and Blood of Christ so that we can more fully become the Body of Christ.  And through the Eucharist we are given a taste of the heavenly banquet feast that awaits the People of God.


There are a number of ways to approach and enter into the Mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ—offered for us—and how we participate in that mystery.  Today, I want to offer just one way of looking at it.  Just as we hear that Jesus took, blessed, broke, and shared bread; we, in becoming the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, are also taken, blessed, broken, and shared.


First, we are taken.  Each of us has been created by the loving hand of God, and through our baptism have become a part of the family of God in a special way, as adopted sons and daughters.  We are gathered here today as a faith family in praise and thanksgiving for all that God has done for us.  We offer bread and wine, which represent ourselves.  Like the grains crushed to make bread and grapes pressed to make wine, all of us together are offered to the Lord.  And in receiving the Body and Blood of Christ – in becoming the Body and Blood of Christ – we are indeed blessed.  We offer to God what we have and let Him transform us.  We are made holy in an extraordinary way: for in receiving Christ, Christ receives us.  Our relationship with God, and our relationship with one another, is bonded through the sacramental presence of Christ. 


Taken and blessed, we are then broken and shared.  We do not remain here in church, but go forth from here, renewed and strengthened by the Body of Christ, as the Body of Christ, to go out and be the Body of Christ.  We even see in our 1st Reading that Abram responded to Melchizedek’s offering of bread and wine by giving generously of what he had.  Though Jesus could have fed the 5000 by Himself, He called on the Apostles to do so.  Having shared in the Eucharist, each of us, too, is called to reach out to those around us, especially those who suffer and are in desperate need.  We are called to share our lives (our lives in Christ) with those around us, and indeed with the whole world, making Christ present through what we do and through who we are as members of the Body of Christ. 


This is the call and mission of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ.  It’s not always an easy mission.  It involves some sacrifice.  But in sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ, who sacrificed all so that we may be freed from sin and brought to righteousness, we are united to the One who overcame suffering and death.  Every time we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes again, for we know that in Christ, we are taken, blessed, broken and shared so that we may share in Christ’s life, now and for all eternity.