When thinking on the most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, or Corpus Christi, what’s the first thing that comes into your mind, I wonder. For many, it could be a vision of a barrier with a sign that reads, ‘beyond this point is mystery!’. Corpus Christi conjures up all sorts of theological concepts, intellectualism and dogma which can seem so challenging that we might easily glaze over. To engage with this might seem daunting, but there is another side to Corpus Christi, a human side, and it’s this side that I’d like to spend a moment exploring.
Our first reading today is a reading of remembrance, recalling events that have passed. It recalls how the rebellious chosen people had been treated by God in the desert. How he had cared for them, fed and watered them through miraculous means, manna from heaven and water from the rock. There is, however, a purpose for remembering these events. Because intertwined in the words of Moses is a message of hope, encouragement, thanksgiving, and above all a reminder that God is with them. As such, it makes the past present. It’s reminding people that God hasn’t abandoned them, he is still present in their lives and in history. ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but that man lives on everything that comes from the mouth of the Lord’. This is a statement of intent, of ongoing love and care, despite their waywardness and rebellion, they were loved then, and they are loved now.
Paul sheds light on who these wayward and rebellious people are in our second reading…us! He talks of our share in the one loaf due to our communion with, and as, the Body of Christ, and as such, we share in the same call as did the remnant of Israel. Make no mistake, we are descended from those who wandered in the desert, brothers and sisters in faith. This honour was won for us by the immolation of Christ’s body and the spilling of his blood and as such, Moses is speaking also to us. His words of memory, of hope, of encouragement and thanksgiving are for us also. As too is God’s statement of intent…we are loved.
This statement of intent is beautifully elaborated by our Lord himself in our Gospel. As he was trying to share his message of hope, how he must have rolled his eyes when challenged literally. Unphased, he goes on to deliver one of the most love fuelled passages in the whole of Scripture; ‘He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me, and I live in him’. This is his promise to be with us always.
I suppose that what I’m getting at here, is that Corpus Christi has two sides; the heavy, theological, dogmatic, but ultimately mystery side, and the human side. Because there is always a human side…always. This is because God’s story is our story. God’s story is about us. Whenever we read Scripture, we are reading a life story about God’s people, us, and that is why it speaks to us so deeply today. But not only to us, also to all those who have gone before, and to all those who will came after, and as such, we are joined to them in a real, tangible way. When Moses speaks, he is speaking to us. When Paul speaks, he is speaking to us. When Christ speaks, he is speaking to us. The past becomes present and future because Christ is alive. He lives in our hearts, he lives in our community, he lives in our Sacraments, he lives in our Eucharist.
He is truly with us and always will be.
God Bless you all…Deacon Anthony