Corpus Christi 2007

Genesis 14:18-20
I Corinthians 11:23-26
Luke 9:11-17

Remaining faithful to the breaking of bread, let us live together in love.

The year was 1983. The place was Atchison , Kansas . The occasion was a Sunday Eucharist at the Benedictine Convent of St Scholastica.

The year was 1992. The place was Richmond , Virginia . The occasion was a Sunday Eucharist at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

The year was 2007. The place was Charleston , South Carolina . The occasion was a funeral Eucharist at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist.

A span of 24 years, making a triangle of some 3500 miles. Yet the same experience in all three places.

Remaining faithful to the breaking of bread, let us live together in love.

And what is that experience? In all three places the ecstatic generosity of God. Jesus giving himself to the multitude without stint. In all three places tears running down my cheeks as I was overcome with the realization of Christ’s love for each one of us – the fat ones and the thin ones, the beautiful ones and the scarred ones, the self-assured and the timid, the athletic and the awkward, the rich and the poor. And these external characteristics mirror – though not necessarily in the same person – the look of the interior dispositions. The proud and the humble, the bully and the meek, the lustful and the chaste. Christ offers himself to all. There is no respect of persons with God. He has come to save all. He has come that we might have life and have it to the full.

At least such was my experience on all three occasions. In each instance some five hundred people approaching the altar. Five hundred people being fed. Five hundred people saying “Amen” with varying degrees of faith, varying degrees of doubt. Five hundred people taking within themselves the Bread of Heaven. It just struck me so forcefully how Jesus adapts himself to each and to all – gives himself to those who honor him and to those for whom this communion is more a thing of rote or a social event. Jesus gives himself to each and to all – that he might, over time, be the Life of each and all.

“Send the crowd away,” Jesus’ disciples urge. Don’t let them bother us anymore. We can’t take care of so many. We have ourselves to worry about, our own stomachs to feed.

No, says Jesus, you feed them. You minister to them. You give them the nourishment they require. Pull from your meager store and I will multiply.

Remaining faithful to the breaking of bread, let us live together in love.

“This is my body given for you…. This is my blood poured out for you.”

The priest is urged to imitate what he handles. Each one of us, as priests of God Most High, is called to say as well: This is my body given for you. This is my blood poured out for you. How else can we sing: Let us live together in love. We are, each one of us, servants of the servants of God. We are, each one of us, called to proclaim the Lord’s death by our own life of renunciation for others.

At communion we will sing today:

Jesus. Jesus. Let all creation bend the knee to the Lord. And the cantor will add the verse: Though Son, he did not cling to godliness, but emptied himself, became a slave! Then he immediately adds: Jesus, the Lord.

The Lord we serve is indeed the one who serves us. The Lord we serve is the one who comes to the five hundred or the five thousand and feeds them with his own life.

Let us do likewise.

Remaining faithful to the breaking of bread, let us live together in love.