Reflection for Sunday June 23, 2019: Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi).

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Gillick, Larry, S.J.
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"Blessed are You, Lord God of all creation."|The presider at the Catholic Eucharistic liturgy begins the offering of bread and wine at the offertory with these words. It is taken from the prayer within the Jewish tradition for their Sabbath meal. We hear this prayer spoken for the first time by the king and priest of the area of Salem which became Jerusalem.|Abram has returned from a victorious battle against four other oppressive kings with possessions and freed captives. Melchizedek, of course, is most grateful and takes bread and wine as symbols of life and offers a prayer to God in gratitude for Abram and for God's saving his kingdom through Abram. It is a thanksgiving liturgy for God's saving love.|A student came recently to talk about his problem with the "Real Presence" of Jesus in the Eucharist. He just could not figure it out, how Jesus' Body and Blood could be present like that. I asked him if he would like it if Jesus really wanted to be with him and within us that way. "Yes, but I would like it better if there were some visible evidence which I could see, taste and so really believe." He would like it if it didn't ask for true and simple faith and receptivity.|The Gospel for this wonderful celebration is also about inconvenience. The Apostles enjoy the popularity Jesus has with the crowds by His healings and teachings. It is getting late and the crowds are a bother. The disciples hardly have enough to feed themselves so they wish to have Jesus get rid of them. "Give them some food yourselves." They are inconvenienced by their experience of poverty. They couldn't figure out how Jesus could ask this of them.|As signs of their poverty they do propose that there is some bread and fish at hand, but this insufficiency is obvious. Jesus takes these signs of poverty, insufficiency and yet gifts, and then says the blessing-prayer of Melchizedek. After giving thanks, he gave the Apostles the transformed poverty into abundance for distribution through the hands of the Apostles.|The crowd ate, without seeming to ask how it all happened. Were they glad it happened? Were the Apostles glad it happened? Would academic, scientific, and philosophic questions be satisfied? Would they rather have answers than food?|What is precious about the Body and Blood of Jesus, is of course, they are of divinity. Also what is precious is the poverty of the human condition to give thanks to God perfectly through the gift of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.|What is precious as well is the poverty of mind and spirit which opens us up to grateful receptivity, as did the crowd. I am not convinced that if we understood the Transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus, it would increase devotion nor the number of receivers. Knowing does not satisfy. What is hard to accept is not Christ's Presence in the form or substance of bread and wine, but the inconvenient reality of forming me as well as you into His Body and Blood. So I gently asked the fellow what would be the difficulty in accepting the gift of Christ's Body and Blood into his human body and blood. That did stop him for longer than a little while. He stumbled verbally around how that acceptance would be humbling and rearrange his personal viewing of himself and especially others who were receiving before him and beside him and after him. That would be an inconvenience to his pattern of selectivity, harshly judging and irreverent prejudice. Upon leaving my office he smilingly did admit that he enjoyed his questions more than my answers. I responded grinningly that his mind is filled with wanting to have and possess, but his soul and spirit really desires to receive and distribute, while his head wants it all just for himself. He did not seem to like this reflection either. The precious Body of Christ lives on in human fragility.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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