Corpus Christi in Jubilee Year (June 22, 2014)
This morning we will be receiving the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. This is an incredible statement and takes a life-time of prayer and reflection to even slightly pierce this Mystery. St John tells us in his gospel that this teaching of Jesus was a tipping point in his ministry and He lost many followers because of it. But there is another group of Jesus’ disciples that may be just as disappointing. The first are those who could not accept the Eucharist as gift and left. But another are those who take the Eucharist for granted. Does this miracle of God’s self-giving love at the altar each day create in us awe? Or humility? Or energetic zeal? Or a burning desire for God? Or selfless charity? Do I remember each day at the receiving of Christ’s Body and Blood to even say “thank you”!? This Consecration happens thousands of times a day all around the world and to keep this sacrament from becoming too commonplace we need to keep our reverence, joy and thanksgiving alive through meditation and prayer.
We all know what it is like to have given someone a gift that wasn’t appreciated. ..Perhaps, embarrassing to say, we even wish we could have taken it back! Yet one of the beauties the Eucharist teaches us is that Christ desires to give Himself totally regardless of our response or receptivity. He continues to give Himself over and over, not just at the altar, but every moment of our day. We are called to imitate Christ in this self-donation without conditions – freely, w/o refunds or regrets!
We have all heard the phrase that we are called to be “Eucharistic people” but what does that look like? Do we think it is to give to others while still remaining in control? Or to give from my surplus which makes me feel good but doesn’t cost me much? Obviously that isn’t what Jesus taught us at the Last Supper. I see the Triduum, which begins with the celebration of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, as a sort of running commentary or description of what the Eucharist is or looks like – a definition by pure example.
This morning after mass we will also have a procession. Usually in processions we are moving towards the Church – a sign of our spiritual journey towards our heavenly home as well as the interior journey into the deeper chambers of our heart, where Christ also dwells. Yet this is the only procession where we will be actually carry Jesus Christ out of the church in the Consecrated Host - a procession where Christ will bless all 4 corners of our world. We see in these movements that God is not only our destination; He is our guide and protector along the way. As we go towards God He is already with us!
The first reading today we have another procession of sorts. However, it is one that lasted 40 years! The Israelites go through the desert 40 years seeking the Promised Land …or a return to their heavenly homeland. In their procession through the desert they went through tough times as well as joyous ones. They experienced hunger as well as manna from God and from the heavens. They thirsted but also knew living water from the rock. They knew absence and they knew presence. They suffered and they celebrated. And they knew as they journeyed towards God He was already with them!
This year our community is celebrating another procession. A procession not of 40 years but 50! It is our jubilee year and a time to reflect on our own community’s journey towards God…as well as reflect on how we have carried Christ in procession through the years…or more accurately, He has carried us! For we know as we go towards God He is already with us!
I have been reading our House Reports and Visitation Cards and see that this 50 year procession towards and with God has also had its tough times as well as joyous ones. A community of women who have experienced hunger as well as manna from God… who have been tested in the desert as well as directed towards life-giving waters…who have known absence and presence, suffering and celebration. Jean Vanier says, “Our lives are a journey from weakness of the new born child we once were to the weakness of the old person we will become. Our lives are a journey of growth from ignorance to wisdom, from selfishness to self-giving, from fear to trust, from lack of self-esteem to self-acceptance. We human beings do not possess life. We receive life in our fragile bodies.” In our procession towards God we need food for our journey and the Eucharist has always been the central nourishment of our day and lives…and a way we carry Christ with us on the way.
In our Visitation cards over the past 50 years one striking theme that was repeatedly and consistently made was that we are a community of joy. In the early years there seems to have been much confusion and lack of clarity, not only in a new community finding its own identity, but in a Church changing radically and quickly from the Second Vatican Council. But amidst the turmoil and suffering, joy remained a central identity in our community. It is only in finding God that we possess joy and so I think this joy is a good indication that our community has been, and is, united to the Heart of Christ. Our community has known Christ Crucified but more importantly we have experienced the Risen Christ in our midst.
Crozet’s House Report posed a great question to the Order: How can we live the joy of the gospel? It was taken from Pope Francis who said that the way we evangelize and witness to God in our midst is through joy. How do I live the joy of the gospel? Or we can rephrase the question more in line with our Feast of Corpus Christi today: How can I carry Christ into my heart, into my community, and into the world? We see joy is the answer and it is a grace our community has received, accepted, and let’s hope…never taken for granted!
We can end with St Anselm’s words: In seeking God we have found Him and in finding Him we seek Him. This is the source of our joy...and a hallmark of our community over the past 50 years. Maybe this is why we can truly call it a 'jubilee' year! - In jubilation for what has been, is, and will be.