Gospel Commentary: The Feast of Corpus Christi

As we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ, Luke’s gospel presents us with the account of the miraculous feeding of the five thousand. Those present among this vast crowd of humanity followed Jesus from town to town as He preached His Father’s message of new life and love. Among them were some eager to hear God’s word and begin to live the new way of life those words contained. Others came to see the signs and wonders that were happening. Lastly, there were those who desired to be beneficiaries of these miracles and be cured of their maladies. Jesus knew then, as He does today, that those who follow Him have varying degrees of dedication. He alone realized their spiritual yearnings as well as their physical needs and He desired to attend to both. Luke tells us: "As the day was drawing to a close, the twelve approached Him and said, dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here." To their request, Jesus said: "Give them some food yourselves." But the apostles realizing what little they had said to Him: "Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people." It was then that Jesus took matters into His own hands and multiplied what was readily available so that all present "ate and were satisfied." The Feast of Corpus Christi while remembering this great event also commemorates the miracle we witness and behold at every Mass celebrated in His memory. As the crowds were fed one day in the distant past, we ourselves, receive a gift from God every time we gather for the Eucharistic celebration. We receive a gift transformed by God into a food that nourishes body and soul, and in doing so we are strengthened to be a people He has formed in His image and a people who are to follow Him with a lively faith. The gift of the Eucharist is one of life’s greatest blessings. We become one with Him and He with us. We receive a power and a grace above anything this earth can offer. We receive all that we need to become a new creation. But, are we? Does our reception of His Body and Blood really make a difference in our lives. When we leave His church can we really be genuinely identified as a disciple. In other words, has our participation in the greatest act of human worship truly touched our lives? If someone observed us habitually arriving late or rushing from the Communion line to the nearest exit before Mass has ended, would they really believe that our worship experience has personal value? If someone was seated at an adjacent table at our after-Mass coffee hour and overheard our critical and demeaning conversations of persons and events, would they be able to distinguish us from those, who instead of Mass, are gathered at a Sunday brunch? If a non-believer was standing in the church parking lot and observed our lack of civility to other worshipers, would they run to the rectory and ask for a registration card? Our reception of the Body and Blood of Christ is meant to make us more faithfully adhere to the teachings and words of the One whose name we bear. It, like all Sacraments, is meant to change our lives. If we have not experienced this change or have a revolving door mentality to our worship experience, then perhaps we have accepted the gift and never removed the wrapping paper. The worth of a gift might have something to do with the presentation, but the value of a gift goes much deeper. Jesus Christ did not suffer and die for us so that we might remain apart and unconcerned about our human relationships. In a world that constantly challenges the values of God and ridicules His truths, we who claim to be His followers, must be a people who respect the dignity of all. We, as members of His Body, should strive to live as He has taught us — one in mind and heart. The Sacrament of His Body and Blood has life transforming possibilities. However, no one in this life can have anything affect them, until and unless, they realize what they are lacking. If our reception of this gift of Himself has failed us in the past, maybe we should begin to approach it with a new understanding and resolve. God can accomplish all things for us, if we allow Him. He, who has created the heart and mind, the lips and ears and the eyes, which are the mirror of the soul, can fine tune them into the blessings they are meant to be, instead of vehicles that spread harm and malice. All we need to do is to begin to go beyond the motions of faith and begin living it. Then, the miraculous event which happened long ago, will be recreated in our midst today, and the reign of God will be truly among us. Fr. Irace is rector of the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington. Copyright ?1998 Arlington Catholic Herald, Inc. All rights reserved.

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