June 14, 2009

Corpus Christi

In recent posts, we have been reflecting on the Holy Trinity. This mystery of uncreated and eternal Love is the very source of our lives and of the whole universe. Understanding this changes the whole way we see reality. A purely secular world does not see meaning in things. For some, everything is just an illusion, a big game. For others, the distinct uniqueness of this sunrise, or that flower, or someone's smile -- such things can not fully be seen. In their wisdom, everything is caught up in one idea, one meaning - a meaning that absorbs and chokes out everything else. But for the believer, everything is filled with wonder and awe: it all comes from Love and is awaited by Love. Love treasures the unique and the distinct inexhaustible surprise of this person and this moment in this particular manifestation of creation because such things are lovable in the most unrepeatable and irreplaceable way. What is more, when we contemplate the Holy Trinity, we even see a kind of impatient, yearning love breaking through such things - the kind of love that can never be indifferent, that must go out and seek the beloved.

This is what we celebrate in Corpus Christi -- the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. Jesus is present in the Blessed Sacrament with a presence that fulfills his promise to be with us until the end of time. Jesus himself said that those who ate his Body and drank his Blood would have eternal life. Early Christian martyrs risked their lives to go to the Eucharist on Sundays, so dependent were they on the power that comes from communing with the Lord. The real presence of Christ, his Eucharistic presence, is so powerful that the ancient Christians considered Holy Communion "the medicine of immortality," "the antidote for death, and "Journey Bread - Vaiticum" by which we live forever. See the Catechism of the Catholic Church #1405 http://www.nccbuscc.org/catechism/text/pt2sect2chpt1art3.shtml#vi.

The eucharistic procession for the solemn feastday brings out a certain aspect of this mystery of Christ's presence among us. There is a tendency among some to call Christ's real presence "static" or else a passive reality on our hearts and minds. But Christ's presence is never static or passive. The Risen Lord, the Victor, is fully alive -- inexhaustibly dynamic and active in his immortal and almighty love. He is on the move. The time is now. He has come searching for us - and it is his desire for us that stirs our yearning for Him.

He is always coming in a new way into our hearts, into our lives, and into our communities. All of creation, every moment is filled with the glory of his coming. Sometimes this glory is so hidden - by our sins, by suffering by evil. But the glory of coming is there - if we look for it. He comes in the name of the love of the Father. He comes in the power of the Holy Spirit. He comes in the proclamation and preaching of the Word of God. He comes in the witness of those who love him. He comes in the distressing disguise of the poor, the suffering, the forgotten. He comes in the Holy Eucharist. Each new presence He brings only anticipates His Final Coming. And in the procession, we remember this coming and we hope for it and we cry "maranatha, come Lord Jesus!"