Monday, June 8, 2015

Corpus Christi

DaVinci's Last Supper
There have been many impressive meals in the course of human history.

There was the first supper, so the Book of Genesis says, where the entre was forbidden fruit.

And there’s the Passover Seder, a remembrance of the Jews’ deliverance from oppression.

The meal table often is the center of family life.  And in our Catholic family, the altar or table of the Lord is central to our faith community.  We gather to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, to re-present the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

June 7 we celebrated the Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus, known in Latin as Corpus Christi.

In the Gospel according to Mark, the author recalls the last supper or Passover of Jesus.

When Jesus sat down to that Supper, he faced three challenges:

First: He had to leave us and yet He wanted to stay with us.  How did he solve this? Listen to His words: This is my body; this is my blood. The bread and wine become sacramentally the Living Christ.

The second challenge: He wanted to die for each one of us and yet He could die only once as a human being. Listen to His words: Do this in remembrance of me. The same victim who died once for us centuries ago returns to us in this sacrificial meal every day.

The third challenge: He wanted to be one with us and yet this was impossible this side of heaven. Listen to His words: Take and eat; take and drink. Jesus invites us to become one with himself briefly in communion.

What is the purpose of the bread we eat? The blood we drink? To form us into a vibrant faith community. Paul wrote: because the bread is one, we, though many, are one body. And this bread we eat and this blood we drink should not only form us into a more vibrant community but also should empower us to reach out compassionately (with our time and talent especially) to the people who enter into our life every day, strangers as well as family and friends and colleagues.

Perhaps you know that Giacomo Puccini discovered he had cancer while composing the opera Turandot.  He told his students to finish his opera if he wasn't able to do so.  And the students did.

One of his students was Arturo Toscanini.   And for the premiere performance of Turandot at Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Toscanini conducted the opera magnificently all the way up to where the master, Puccini, had left off.   And then Toscanini stopped and cried out: “Thus far the master wrote.   But the disciples of the master have completed the work.”  And Toscanini went on conducting the opera, to the thunderous applause of the audience.

You and I are like the students of Puccini.

Christ, the master, asks us to be his so-called “hands and feet and voice and ears” continuing his saving work in our homes, workplaces and communities until He comes again in glory at the end time to transform this universe into a new, indescribable reality.

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