Body and Blood of Christ
June 18, 2017
A friend recently told me about a chance encounter at Sunday Mass with a mutual friend of ours. She said: “I love that just sitting by someone through Mass is just as nice as spending an hour talking with them.” As an afterthought, she added with enthusiasm: “Maybe better!”
I totally got what she was saying, and her musings took me back many years, to when I had first gone “away to school.” Whenever possible, I would make the hour drive on a Sunday morning and sneak into the pew my family gravitated to each week. Usually just a few steps ahead of the entrance procession, there would be no time for anything but smiles and nods. And most often, I had to rush right back to Ann Arbor for one thing or another. But, the hour spent sitting shoulder to shoulder, praying with my family, was “just as nice as spending an hour talking with them… maybe better!” At least for that hour, our family was complete and enjoying a brief retreat from all of the cares and concerns and burdens that each of us carried. If only for an hour…together…we would bask in the kind of peace that can be found in the Eucharist…The Peace of Christ!
The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi Sunday) is the final step of the three special Sundays which bridge the Easter Season with Ordinary Time. It is rich in meaning and very focused on The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. But it is also fitting and proper to turn from the Altar to the pews in order to better understand why this Sunday so special.
Consider for a moment how our Second Reading concludes. Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
Clearly “the loaf” that St. Paul is speaking about is The Bread of Life…Holy Communion. And when we gather around the Communion Table to share The Body of Christ and drink from the Cup of our Salvation, we experience a special unity or communion with The Lord as well as with one another. And so we are able to say: “…just sitting by someone through Mass is just as nice as spending an hour talking with them. Maybe better!”
So then, as we move into Ordinary Time, it is a good thing to recall that when we are “shoulder to shoulder” with one another…family, friend, neighbor, or even stranger…basking in the Peace of Christ…there is nothing ordinary about our time together. We become what we celebrate. We become what we eat. We become the Body of Christ, and grace and peace flow through our body giving us life…life in Christ.
That is why “…just sitting by someone through Mass is just as nice as spending an hour talking with them,” because we are sitting next to the Body of Christ! The Body and Blood of Christ is on the Altar…and through us…sitting in the pews! What could possibly be better?