LOVE UNDIVIDED FOR GOD; LIFE POURED OUT FOR OTHERS

ALTERNATIVE REFLECTION FOR CORPUS CHRISTI SUNDAY

Gen 14:18-20 / 1 Cor 11:23-26 / Lk 9:11b-17


The Feast of Corpus Christi, much like that of last Sunday, Solemnity of the Trinity, offers us “in broad strokes” as it were, one of the major elements of the mystery of God. Last week, I tried to develop the Trinitarian mystery, not so much in terms of God’s inner nature (ad intra), as in terms of what God really means for us (ad extra). We said that the Trinity, more than calling attention to what God is, really calls our attention to what He is for us – a Creator, Giving God who is Father, a Savior, given-for-us-God who is Son, and an Advocate Gifting God who is the Holy Spirit. The gradual revelation of who God is, was a gradual unfolding of this same God in history, in action, deep into the heart of things, as it were.

Theologians have an abstruse, but very logical word for this mystery – the “economic Trinity” as distinct from what they refer to as “immanent Trinity.”

The Trinitarian mystery is all about a God in and of history in action. It is all about a God getting closer to us than close can be – not once, not twice, but thrice over!

Today’s Solemnity heightens this reality of a God-given-for-us. Today’s feast focuses on the “what” of this gift, and this divine desire to be as close to His people as is possible. Today’s feast is all about the Gift-ed One becoming what He is – and more – to us His followers. Corpus Christi is all about a “love undivided” given to the Church and her members. This love undivided was given in sacrifice. When one speaks of love, the concept of sacrifice cannot but enter the picture. There is no love unless there is sacrifice. And there is no sacrifice worthy of the name unless there is some form of self-offering.

This self-offering is what Melchizedek alludes to in the first reading. By offering bread and wine, Melchizedek foreshadows the offering that we make each time we celebrate Eucharist – offer the very same bread and wine that we will partake of and consume.

But the second reading makes sure that we see the connection between the first reading and the solemnity we celebrate. The bread and wine that we offer are not just any bread and wine. Any bread and wine will do for a party. Any bread and wine will do for a gig or a potluck dinner. But God did not go all the way and make Himself like us in His Son Jesus Christ, just to offer free dinners out in the desert. No … He offers Himself to us. Using ordinary elements that make up our ordinary day, such as food and drink, Christ shows us that what He really offers in the form of bread and wine is Himself, His love, His all.

What He offers is God’s undivided love, plain and simple. In gifts so ordinary, He shows us greater gifts so extraordinary. Such gifts are redolent with history and memory. “Do this in memory of me.” Every time one eats and drinks of it, one “proclaims the death of the Lord until He comes.” Through an action so ordinary, one harks back to a reality that in our times, we can call “extreme reality” … no … not only his dying … but what his dying really points to, his coming back to erase for all and for always, the effects of the very same death he himself passed through … “until He comes.”

God’s efficacious desire to be close to His people comes full circle in the Gospel account from Luke. The Gift-ed One gives Himself totally to adoring crowds. He probably mesmerized them in a way, with all His “good news” and “great deeds.” He not only taught. He healed. He made them whole. He restored their sights, their health, their sense of self-respect. No wonder they followed Him – even to the edge of the desert, sans provisions, sans food, sans everything. Even people who learned to value Him and love Him for what He did and for what He was to them got sucked in a good sense to the sacrificial mold of mind. Everything was worth giving up when one is in love. Everything is worth being sacrificed when one finds “the pearl of great price.”

But the greatest love came from Him who was willing to go all the way to Calvary and offer His life to the full.

You guessed it right … that love came in the form of ordinary food. He offered them nourishment, but he was able to do that act of love only with a little help from friends. Yes, he called his disciples, not servants, but friends. “Give them something to eat yourselves.”

The Solemnity of the Sacred Body and Blood of the Lord is basically about two things: God’s great and efficacious desire to give of Himself entirely. He did so when He created the world and everything in it. He still does so as He continues to sustain the fruit of His handiwork. That sustenance continues to take place in and through the gift of the Eucharist, wherein we partake of both the symbol and reality at one and the same time of that “undivided love” shown in a “life poured out for others.”

But the second thing about Eucharist is this … God makes use of willing and generous persons to make His self-giving possible. He calls for the generous cooperation of his disciples: “Give them something to eat yourselves.” Modesty aside, I am glad to be part of this fraternity of those called to serve and wait at Eucharistic tables. I do that this very instant. I break the bread of God’s Word for you in this homily. I will continue to do that, assisted by others who have been commissioned to be my co-waiters at the second part of this Mass … break the bread of the Eucharist and distribute them in communion.

I am well into my 25th year waiting at the Lord’s table. I am certainly not worthy of it, nor do I come anywhere near being an expert at it, but I am definitely delighted and happy to do as I have done over the past 24 plus years. For here in this Mass and in every Mass I celebrate with you and for you, I am fed more than I feed you; I am nourished, more than I nourish you. For what I offer is not me, nor mine, and definitely not Melchizedek’s – but Christ’s very own Body and Blood. Through my unworthy hands, and unworthy lips, I “proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes.” Our prayer at the beginning of this Mass applies to me more than it applies to you all. Join me as I pray it once more:

“Lord Jesus Christ, we worship you living among us in the sacrament of your body and blood. May we offer to our Father in heaven a solemn pledge of undivided love. May we offer to our brothers and sisters a life poured out in loving service of that Kingdom where you live with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever" (Alternative Opening Prayer).

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