A famed Jewish theologian was interviewing for the position of Britain’s CHIEF RABBI, when an arch-conservative member of the committee quoted the words of the prophet Samuel to King Saul: “Thus says the Lord…. Attack the enemy, kill the men and women, the infants and children, the oxen and sheep, and spare no one.” Now that’s in the Bible, “said the committeeman. (l Samuel 15:3) — Do you believe God said that to Samuel or not?
The wise Rabbi answered, “I believe Samuel heard it, but I don’t believe God said it!”
Would that we were all so wise, but we’re not! Rarely an hour passes without our saying or doing something stupid or hurtful. We stub our toes, wreck our cars, overdraw our bank accounts, and hurt those we love. AND NONE OF IT COMES AS A SURPRISE TO GOD, WHO KNOWS THAT GROWING INTO THE PERSON HE ENVISIONS US TO BE IS A SUCCESSION OF TWO STEPS FORWARD AND ONE STEP BACK!
TODAY’S FEAST of the BODY and BLOOD of CHRIST, (in Latin,“Corpus Christi”), CELEBRATES the FACT that GOD LOVES US, NOT because we’re PERFECT, but because WE’RE HIS! — God KNOWS the intimate details of all our mistakes; how we get lost; how we sometimes shoot ourselves in the foot; and how we manage to defeat, and even destroy ourselves, without the assistance of a single enemy! — GOD KNOWS ALL OF THAT – and yet, GOD LOVES US ANYWAY!
THAT’S WHY Jesus gives himself to us in the EUCHARIST – as MEDICINE to HEAL our hurts and as FOOD to make us STRONG! — God has a wonderful picture of each of us in his mind: THE SPLENDID PERSON he hopes we will become. — But, whether or not we will ACTUALLY BECOME those remarkable persons — DEPENDS on US!
(Tonight/this morning) JESUS, (who loves us more than we love ourselves), is making us an OFFER, that we’d be crazy to refuse: “Let me come to you,” he says, “and live in you; and be your PARTNER. — I’ll feed you, heal your hurts, and give you strength and “staying power” when life gets tough! — AND, I’ll stick with you to the very end, no matter what!”
THAT is WHAT God, in the person of Jesus, is offering us, when the priest or deacon or Special Minister of the Eucharist, offers US the consecrated host or cup.. And God is “hoping against hope” that YOU and I will say “YES” to His offer! — Hoping against hope that we’ll say, “AMEN” – “SO BE IT!”
But, TODAY’S FEAST of CORPUS CHRISTI isn’t JUST about WHAT the GIFT of the EUCHARIST – (the gift of Christ’s own body and blood) – will “DO” for us; important as that is! — JUST AS IMPORTANT, TODAY’S FEAST is about what YOU and I are called “TO DO” for one another! (Because YOU and I, and ALL baptized believers ARE the BODY OF CHRIST in the world, TODAY!)
That means that as we receive the Eucharist, and as the Body of Christ becomes a PART of who WE ARE; we must be willing to LIVE OUR LIVES as JESUS CHRIST, (now WITHIN US), “WOULD HAVE US LIVE THEM” ! — In other words, the QUESTIONS: “What would Jesus do?” or “What would Jesus say?” are NOT IDOL questions! — IF Christ has BECOME a REAL PART of each and every CELL of our being through HOLY COMMUNION; then “What would Jesus do?” or “What would Jesus say?” are questions that WE MUST ASK OURSELVES, hundreds of times, each and every day!
At the Last Supper, Jesus gave the Eucharist to all twelve of his apostles. Eleven of them drew healing and courage from that encounter with him. But for Judas, it was just another piece of bread, because his treasure and his heart were elsewhere – and not with Jesus.
Today’s Feast reminds us that the Eucharist has IMMENSE IMPLICATIONS! – implications for the way we LIVE our DAILY LIVES; for the way we TREAT one another, for the IMPACT that we should have in our homes, schools, workplaces and supermarkets. — (As we all know, a religion that is confined to the four walls of a church isn’t worthy of its name!) — REAL RELIGION is meant to act like a STONE dropped into a pool. Which then produces ever-widening circles of love and care, concern and compassion, which effect our home, our parish, our neighborhood, our country, the Church universal, and, eventually, the whole world!
In a “nutshell,” the Eucharist which we are invited to receive each week, (or each day), is the fulfillment of Christ’s promise TO BE WITH US ALWAYS – (in the good times and in the bad – and in all the in-between times); AND the Eucharist is Christ’s invitation to US – to “be there” for ONE ANOTHER — to make the Body of Christ in the world, STRONG! — The Eucharist is Our Lord’s PLEA to us, NOT to “RUN AWAY” from our commitments and challenges, and most especially, not to run away from “those who NEED US”; whoever they may be!
In about fifteen minutes (more or less), I will hold up the consecrated bread, (which has become CHRIST’S BODY); and the consecrated cup of wine, (which has become CHRIST’S BLOOD); and I will say the words which have invited BELIEVERS to the EUCHARIST for over two thousand years: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” — AS I speak those ancient words, and WE join, together, in the time-honored response: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” — Jesus will TRULY come to the DOOR of each of our HEARTS (BODY, SOUL and DIVINITY) and ask us to INVITE HIM IN! — And, as He does, he will whisper to our hearts: “I’LL ALWAYS “be there” FOR YOU. So, promise me YOU’LL be there for those who NEED YOU! Promise me that you’ll use YOUR VOICE to speak MY WORDS of love and forgiveness; of compassion and peace. — And promise me that you’ll use YOUR HANDS to continue THE WORK that I began – the work of healing people and bringing them together, and to God.”
IF JESUS finds an open, trusting heart when he comes to us (tonight/this morning); he will be able to get inside us and HEAL the parts of us that are hurt. He will be able to COMFORT the parts of us that are sad, lonely, or afraid! — And, he will be able to make us STRONG and full of ENERGY for life so that we can MEET THE CHALLENGE of BEING HIS PRESENCE in the world, UNTIL HE COMES again in glory!