Saturday, June 25, 2011
The Body of Christ
The human body is one of the marvels of creation. Our body is the way we relate to the world and to one another. We recognize and know each other through our bodies. Our bodies are the way we see each other, touch each other and speak to each other. Our bodies are also the way we pass life on to the next generation. Through the intimacy of our bodies with the bodies of our loved ones we co-operate with God in creating new life. Ultimately, our bodies are who we are. Our bodies are ourselves. Though we commonly say that we have a body, it is more correct for us to say that we are a body.
So, it makes sense that the God who wanted to be known by us and wanted to pass on His life to us would take on a human body in the person of Jesus Christ. Through Jesus - through His body - we see and know the Father. We can now relate to God because He has taken on a body like our own. Through the person of Jesus, God now speaks our language. But, most importantly, by taking on a human body, God now passes His life on to us. Through the body of Jesus, we can have the eternal life that only God can give.
We don't see Jesus the way the apostles did. We are not able to speak with Him and touch Him the way Martha and Mary did. How, then, does Jesus pass on this eternal life to us? Through the wondrous mystery of the Eucharist.
At every Mass, through every generation, Jesus has made himself present to us through the gift of His Body and Blood. Through the Eucharist, Jesus gives us His flesh to eat and His blood to drink. Saint Paul affirms it for us in the second reading. The cup of blessing is a sharing in the Blood of Christ and the bread we break is a sharing in Christ's Body. Through the gift of the Eucharist, the God who wants to be know by us and who wants to pass His life on to us, comes to live within us, entering our bodes and penetrating our souls in the form of bread and wine.
God is so generous to us! It wasn't' enough for God to reveal Himself to us in Scripture. He sent His only Son to die for us giving us the forgiveness of sins and the hope of everlasting life through His resurrection. But, even that wasn't enough for God. In his infinite generosity, He gave us the very flesh and blood of His Son to feed us and sustain us during our lifetime. It is the nature of God that He gives, and gives and gives of Himself. When God had spoken His last word of revelation, when every drop of blood had been drained from Jesus' body, when His very Spirit had been poured out for us, He had to go even further and give His Body to nourish us.
Why does God go so far as to give us the flesh and blood of His Son? It is because God longs to share His life with us. God pines for our love like a teenager dogged by a crush. God cannot rest until He has given us every opportunity to experience His love and His life.
The only way that we can receive the eternal life of God in all its fullness is through the Body and Blood of Christ. Jesus makes it very clear to us in the gospel of John. Jesus gives His flesh as bread for the life of the world. Unless we eat His flesh and drink His blood, we do not have life within us. Why is that? Because the only way for us to receive God's life is through God. No one else can give us God's life except God Himself. I received my human life from my mother and father who were humans. A monkey or a dog couldn't give me human life. My human life had to be given to me through the bodies of my mother and father. Just so, we cannot receive God's life unless God gives it to us. And that gift of eternal life comes to us through the Body and Blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.
We gather here today to witness and experience the miracle of bread and wine which will be transformed into Jesus' body and blood for the life of the world. There will be some of us who are unable to receive communion today. There are young children here who have not yet made their First Communion. As a community we pray for you that in your innocence God will touch your hearts. Some won't receive communion because you feel unworthy. You may have not gone to confession in many years or may be struggling with personal problems. As a worshiping community, we pray for you that you can experience the transforming life and love that God offers to all sinners. And some cannot come to communion today because a particular situation in your life does not allow it. We pray for you that you can work your way through whatever situation you are in and be able to approach the God of mercy and compassion who seeks to envelop all people in His loving embrace. Though not all of us may receive, none of us is left out of the transforming power of God's presence in the Eucharist. Even if we cannot receive His Body and Blood on our tongue, we may gaze upon it in wonder and awe and invite His power into our lives and into our hearts. Many of us will be able to receive this precious gift of God in the Eucharist. We must examine our hearts and prepare ourselves so that we accept this gift worthily and with deep gratitude. Our eternal life with God depends on it.