Reflection on Corpus Christi (the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ)
The words from John that we have just heard speak strongly to those of us who stand within the Christian tradition. The words resonate with anyone who walks with followers of Jesus. Jesus says, “I am the living bread. Eat this bread and you will live forever.” We all know at some level of our understanding that there is not any magical and easy way to live good lives. It is not sufficient to show up here for Mass. We have to work at living.
So what does Jesus mean – to eat this bread which is his flesh so that we live forever? To eat this bread, in this “sacramental way” to eat Jesus’ flesh, has to mean something about being one with Jesus. In some way we become what we eat so the symbolism is strong here – we become one with Jesus. It is our choice to do so. We choose to eat this bread. We choose to be one with Jesus in some way or another.
What did Jesus do? He gave himself in love to others, he spent himself for others. The first line of the Gospel section we read today has Jesus saying, “The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” If we choose to eat this bread, we will have to give ourselves in love to others. We need to bring life to our world. We must have generous spirits and open hearts.
We see generous spirits and open hearts in Loretto. We experience the competence and kindness of the employees. There are those in the Community who work to save the planet, who tutor children, who talk with retreatants, who work with those in need in the county, who welcome visitors, who teach about Earth, who are entrusted with leadership in Loretto – here and in the larger Loretto Community.
And today, among those of you who have joined us for liturgy on Zoom — no doubt some of you parent children and work in the community in various ways. Generous spirits and open hearts bring life to this world of ours. Then there are the small acts of kindness we see here all the time, ways we reach out to one another. Giving ourselves in love to the other.
A word of caution, since most of us here this morning are women: For centuries women have been expected to serve others, sometimes to their own destruction. That cannot be what God asks of us. A generous spirit must know its limits. An open heart must be open to its own needs as well as to those of others.
Jesus also says in today’s Gospel: “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life.” Life in John’s Gospel can be thought of as sharing in the relationship Jesus has with the one whom he called Father. The relationship of Jesus and his God is a model of the relationship between us and God. Being in relationship, living with the fullest possible life for a human being – that’s what we mean by eternal life – not just later, but now. This gift of relationship is a present gift; it is a present gift of life for now.
As we move into Eucharist this morning, we ask that we know more deeply our relationship with God. We also ask to be able to give ourselves in love to others. We ask that we may bring life to our world and healing to our Earth. We ask for generous spirits and open hearts.