C Cycle – Feast of Corpus Christie
1 Cor. 11: 23-26
In the Narthex of my former parish there is a 30’ stained glass figure of the risen Christ which is stunning and inspiring. Then there is behind the altar over the tabernacle a 12” figure of the risen Christ attached to a cross. Over the years, there was always a strong desire expressed by some in the parish that the figure behind the altar should be a Corpus of the crucified Christ instead of the risen Christ.
The feelings were strong but were voiced by a small minority in the parish while others had no opinion at all. I must admit that my sentiments and my faith always lean toward the results of His death and resurrection and does not remain fixed on those hours between His arrest and His death. In fact, if you read the scriptural accounts of his passion and death you will discover they do not focus on the horrific treatment of Jesus but only on the overall picture of the events leading to His final words before He dies.
If you want to read details on crucifixion and flogging, go read Cicero’s detailed description of crucifixion where he describes it as the most cruel and hideous of all tortures. Then read Eusebius the third century Church historian as he describes in detail the act of flogging, the flogging tool, the effect on the body as a result of flogging. His detailed description of it will make you sick to your stomach. If you have ever seen Mel Gibson’s portrayal of Jesus being flogged it does not even come close to reality and it was a horrific portrayal.
The fact God does not give us those details in the scriptures is reason enough for us to understand the death of Jesus is just one of the steps to our restoration and the real issue for us to grasp is the impact of His death and resurrection on us. The truth is we should not remain fixed on Calvary for we must go to the empty tomb to understand why Jesus was and is the only way to salvation and the promise of what God desires to do within us.
Today we celebrate the night Jesus gave us a means to focus on Him, daily, weekly and a way to invite Him into ourselves. We celebrate his act during the last supper the institution of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is often referred to as the source and summit of our faith. To some that implies we reach the pinnacle when we consume the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Have we reached the pinnacle of spiritual growth by that one act or is there more we must do in order to be the people Jesus died for us to become?
Do not mistake what I am saying because Jesus himself said “unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you cannot have life within us” (Jn. 6:53). This tells you how important it is to understand what is being offered us each time we consume the body and blood of Jesus. Yet there is more required of us who believe and that is the real benefit of what we believe are the results of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We are called to take this life we have been given by His death and resurrection and begin to share the good news with others.
Therefore, if our faith remains fixed on Calvary, we remain focused on our sinfulness and our need for a savior. We need to move beyond His death and the readings we have listened to for the past fifty days leading up to Pentecost were all about coming to grips with the life we are offered by Jesus because of His resurrection. A life that begins with us embracing His gift of salvation and then by inviting Him into our hearts by eating his flesh and drinking his blood we will begin to understand God’s desire to change our hearts.
Just as the argument of which Corpus of Christ should be on that cross behind the altar is meaningless because we need both for the fruit of Jesus’s death just as much as we need the fruit of His life. We need the totality of Jesus to come into our hearts. We need by the action of the Holy Spirit to have the gift of Jesus take root in our hearts. Therefore, we need to understand the importance of the Eucharist and how it is not an end in itself but it is the necessary reality of Jesus taking root in our hearts. In order for us to grow and produce fruit for the kingdom of God we need the action of Jesus touching our hearts and creating a desire in us to follow God’s plan for us to bear fruit.
That desire will reveal to us how much is expected of us as believers, how much more we can do as believers and to understand there is no resting point in the journey to God’s heart. There is only more growth, more understanding and more witnessing required by us who believe. Every time we witness the miracle of ordinary bread becoming the body of Christ; every time we witness the miracle of ordinary wine becoming the blood of Christ it should be a reminder to us of the life we are offered by Jesus.
At that moment that is happening all our attention and focus should be on Jesus coming to free us from the guilt of our sins. We should be rejoicing and offering thanksgiving for the gift of salvation and offering our own selves up to become transformed into something we are not yet but grateful for the call to grow as disciples. Then receive Him into your heart.