The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) 2017
“And as they were eating Jesus took some bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to his disciples. “Take it” he said “this is my body”. And when we come to receive the body of Christ, the priest will say: ‘the body of Christ’. And you respond by saying ‘Amen’. In other words, yes, I believe that this really is the body of Christ. The Feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ, is a time to reflect on the significance of this sacrament.
It is impossible to explain in a few words its full significance, but I would like to stress one particular aspect. That is that the eucharist is given to us as food for our journey through life. When we come to read the Preface of the Mass we shall hear the words: “In this great sacrament you feed your people and strengthen them in holiness, so that the family of mankind may come to walk in the light of one faith, in one communion of love.” It may seem a strange kind of food, but it is enough for our journey. It is enough because every host we receive is Christ himself. He comes to us to strengthen and encourage. There can be no more important sacrament for us.
We need the Body of Christ if we are to complete our journey as Christians. It is so easy to get lost or take the wrong road. The values in our society are often misleading; and if we follow them rather than those of the Gospel we will get lost. We live in an increasingly secular age; which makes it difficult to live a good Christian life. It is not impossible, by any means, but it is not easy. Life can be a struggle, at the best of times; but for some one trying to live according to Christian values, it is even more so. Christ asks us to be gentle, to be poor in spirit, to be pure in heart. But there are times when secular society can laugh at such values. And no one likes to be laughed at. It is so much easier to be one of the gang than to stand on your own. Without God’s help it is impossible to do this.
There are times when we come to crossroads and we don’t know which direction to turn. We can be faced with moral dilemmas, to the extent that whatever decision I make seems to be wrong; someone is going to be hurt or disappointed. It is at times like this that we need re-assurance, that the decision we’ve made is a right one. Christ’s gives us that reasurrance in the Eucharist. But don’t always expect clarity; sometimes we have to learn to live with confusion. There is nothing wrong with being confused.
I remember being confused for many years in my early twenties, wondering what to do with my life. Eventually my prayers were answered, and I realised that all that waiting, that confusion, was worthwhile; but at the time it was not pleasant. I know many good people who are going through what might be called a period of confusion: where they want to do more for God, but they don’t know what to do. The Eucharist helps us at these times not to despair but rather to keep going, trusting in God that eventually, in His good time, the confusion will be replaced by clarity.
So on our journey we face difficulties and confusion; we encounter crossroads with no signposts, and we’re tempted to take paths that we know we shouldn’t take. No one goes through life without getting lost in one way or another. And where is our God when we need him most. There can be times when we just seem to be going through the motions: we go to Church out of habit; we receive communion because we would never think of not receiving it. But all the time God in Christ is guiding us. He lets us have our freedom, so much does he love us. He lets us get lost, or go astray. But like the Good Shepherd he is, he comes after us. We may abandon him but he will never abandon us.
The Body and Blood of Christ is food then for our journey through life. Christ guides, he re-assures, he encourages. When we are confused and don’t know which way to turn he will help us. When we stray down the wrong path he will follow. He never condemns, nor criticises; he doesn’t tell us off for getting lost, for being so slow to see the way ahead. No, He is infinitely patient and understanding. We could have no greater friend along the way.