Corpus Christi Body and Blood of Christ June 26th 2011

I have found the last few days challenging : some of the goings on in the news concerning the church some of which have I have posted about have really thrown me into a bad place. 

I've been put in a place beyond myself thinking of those who find themselves on the periphery of the church; gay people in particular. 

I do not agree with the way gay people are served by the church- if I could write anything that would add to or improve the debate , if I felt it would be worthwhile I would, but that has been part of the problem - I don't think I can articulate clearly all that's inside me at the moment- maybe I will  be able to post something more of worth in the future or maybe not !!

This is about all I can muster at the moment.

Mass Readings for this Sunday along with a variety of reflections are here

 In one of these reflections Fr Ron Rolheiser eloquently says :

"We participate in Jesus’ sacrifice for us when we, like him, let ourselves be broken down, when we, like him, become selfless. 

The Eucharist, as sacrifice, invites us to become like the kernels of wheat that make up the bread and the clusters of grapes that make up the wine, broken down and crushed so that we can become part of communal loaf and single cup.

Occasionally when St. Augustine was giving the Eucharist to a communicant, instead of saying, “The body of Christ”, he would say: “Receive what you are.” 

That puts things correctly. What is supposed to happen at the Eucharist is that we, the congregation, by sacrificing the things that divide us, should become the body and blood of Christ. 

More so than the bread and wine, we, the people, are meant to be changed, to be transubstantiated."

The Eucharist, as sacrifice, asks us to become the bread of brokenness and the chalice of vulnerability.

In the early church, when the priest gave communion  saying “Corpus Christi”, the body of Christ, the response was not “Amen”, as we now have it, 
but “I am”. 

Pretty radical isn't it ? 

You - I-  We-  are the body of God, in our humanity.

"The beauty of the Eucharist is precisely that it is the place where a vulnerable God invites vulnerable people to come together in a peaceful meal.

When we break bread and give it to each  other, 
fear vanishes and God becomes very close."
Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey

Some day, after we have mastered the wind,
the waves, the tides, and gravity,
We shall harness for God the energies of Love.
Then, for the second time in the history of the world,
we will have discovered fire.

Teilhard de Chardin

Above Laura Facey’s Body and Blood of Christ,
on view through mid-June 2011, 
at the Gallery of the PanCaribbean Building,
New Kingston.

Our Daily Bread
Breakfast is drunk down … Damp earth
of the cemetery gives off the fragrance of the precious blood.
City of winter … the mordant crusade
of a cart that seems to pull behind it
an emotion of fasting that cannot get free!
  I wish I could beat on all the doors,
and ask for somebody; and then
look at the poor, and, while they wept softly,
give bits of fresh bread to them.
And plunder the rich of their vineyards
with those two blessed hands
which blasted the nails with one blow of light,
and flew away from the Cross!
Eyelash of morning, you cannot lift yourselves!
Give us our daily bread,
Lord … !
Every bone in me belongs to others;
and maybe I robbed them.
I came to take something for myself that maybe
was meant for some other man;
and I start thinking that, if I had not been born,
another poor man could have drunk this coffee.
I feel like a dirty thief … Where will I end?
And in this frigid hour, when the earth
has the odour of human dust and is so sad,
I wish I could beat on all the doors
and beg pardon from someone,
and make bits of fresh bread for him
here, in the oven of my heart … !

by Cesar Vallejo
Translated by James Wright

Fr Austin Fleming at A Concord Pastor Comments has posted a beautiful poem "wot he wrote himself " called "Bread" from here.

Sometimes I sadly face the fact that in the present day our eucharist is celebrated in the presence of enemies by a shattered church in a hungry world.
I find solace in this wonderful reflection by Dennis Mc Bride a Redemptorist priest when he says :

"How is it that we can be present in the same church as other people at Mass but so often we may as well be from different planets ?"

He uses this painting of the Last Supper by Jacopo Bossano to describe the feelings not only of the apostles but also Jesus:

" Bassano catches beautifully the fragility of this meeting. None of the apostles is paying any attention to Jesus. No eyes are fixed on him, no ears attentive to what he might have to say. This is a concelebration of distraction. 

They prefer to concentrate on their own concern: which of them is the greatest? They bring their own worries to the meeting as we all do, and they are worried about their own place in the scheme of things: hierarchy and appointments. 

The Beloved Disciple looks utterly bored by it all: the fingers of his right hand are poised. If I did a modern version of the painting I would insert an I-pad under those fingers as he checks his Facebook. 
In the midst of this distraction Jesus looks out at us the onlooker while he points to the butchered head of a lamb on the table. He hopes we might attend. And you wonder about the questions he might be asking:

  1. You watch your team beginning to crack, and you wonder: will this crowd hold up?
  2. You make a long speech telling them that they are really worth it, yes, really. And because they’re ambitious you tell them they’ll have a throne each. Will that do? How do you keep ambitious men happy?
  3. You wonder why your friends cannot enter your tragedy.
  4. You wonder how you ended up here anyway. What went wrong along the way?
  5. Could you have said things differently, made things more clear? Been more precise in that vision statement?
  6. What makes people pick the sides they do?
  7. Dear God, why didn’t you give me a more alert crowd?

We all know you can be in the same room with people, but on a different planet: proximity doesn’t necessarily bring understanding. 

Sometimes when you try to be real with the people you know, they can turn away in awkward embarrassment, unsure how to react or what to say.
They reach for anyone else or any topic – anything will do, apart from your revelation. Like the exchange I heard recently on the London Underground:

She says: “Have you any idea how that makes me feel. It really really hurts.”
He says: “Mmm, right. You know I got a promotion today at work. Cool.” 

At the Last Supper Jesus as host is talking about the brokenness of the bread and the bloodiness of the wine. 
At the table there is a noticeable absence of the lightness and fun we associate with celebrations.
It is hard to be real with the people we know, but Jesus tries valiantly with his group.

The apostles turn away from him as he struggles to say what is important to him, to debate their own concerns.
A voice tries calling them back to a simpler vision of authority as service, represented by the water jug and basin at the foot of the table and the little loyal dog.

At this meeting we see the common struggles of community in the making. 
And just as the apostles were confused and uncertain about what was going on, that same drama can be repeated at our own holy gatherings.

At the Last Supper Jesus broke bread for his broken community: he was not breaking bread for an assembly of heroes, but a fragile group of followers. 

Jesus keeps telling us that our fragile humanity does not have to be denied or disguised to be accepted; rather in its fragility, in its shaky beauty, it is uplifted and transformed in the love of Christ.

Before Jesus is handed over into the hands of his enemies, he hands himself over, into the hands of his friends. He puts himself into their safekeeping, our safekeeping. 

That night before his death, Jesus said two haunting words: “Remember me.” When I have gone, remember me; do this in memory of me. 

You can’t imagine anyone looking at that painting and having Jesus say: “Remember me by doing this again and again and again. Do it.” 

And we might say, “What, that?”

Yes, that! 

That is what we do in the name of the Lord; we come together, however we are; we listen to the words spoken; we share the story; we break the bread; and we depart to share the Good News."


Part of my belief in communion is that the whole being of the church and our humanity is contained in each of its parts  :  something like a vast ocean of shared open and integrated being. 

But these days instead of togetherness I am increasingly aware of the experience of separation that so many of my brothers and sisters in this one body are feeling.

Instead of unity , alienation, instead of concord, discord. How can I sit on the sidelines 
when gay people are being victimised and scapegoated,  who cannot find a place or mechanism for their sexuality to flourish and be acknowledged , whose experience of God in their lives is not given equal hearing or even relevance ?

James Alison is a gay Catholic theologian and writer who writes refreshingly on many issues and his gentle and non strident approach has much to say to all of us. He is giving a retreat in Dublin at the end of June - pity, I would like to have heard him.

His reflection on the Eucharist here is worth reading and this first video although a little dated gives some measure of his message on homosexuality. 

The revised message now from the Vatican on homosexuality is that homosexuality itself is not intrinsically disordered but the homosexual act itself IS.!! and the later videos bring this up to date.

There are several other videos of his on You Tube : the sound quality is poor on some of these at the beginning :

These are two samples dealing with James Alison explaining the Church and Pope Benedict's stance on gay issues : ( Two of a series of 15 ) and also answers questions on homophobia.

It takes about 35 seconds on this one for the sound volume to correct itself

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