THE FEAST OF CORPUS CHRISTI
There is a story told about two brothers - maybe you’ve heard it before. Both were farmers, who had inherited the farm of their father, and divided it upon his death. The older brother was happily married, and he and his wife had seven children. The younger brother was still single, even though he was pushing 40, long after the age when most of his friends had been wed.
One summer there was a long and destructive drought, and the crops suffered terribly on both of their farms. As a result, the harvest that year was very meager, and to add insult to injury, winter came early. The older brother thought to himself, “What should I do? I have my wife and my children to help see me through, but my poor younger brother is all alone. A family gets by in times of trouble, looking out for each other until the times improve. But a man on his own has nowhere to turn.”
So each night the older brother would sneak out to his barn, fill a sack with grain, and steal across to his brother’s farm, where he would empty the grain into his brother’s bins.
Meanwhile, the younger brother thought to himself, “What should I do? I have only myself to fend for, but my poor older brother has nine mouths to feed. A man on his own can get by in rough times, but a man with a family has nowhere to turn.” So each night, well after dark, the younger brother would sneak out to his barn, where he would fill a sack with grain and slip across to his brother’s barn, where he would empty the grain into his brother’s bins.
Finally, one night, late in the winter, the brothers set out on their missions at just the same moment. As the older brother was approaching the fence that separated the two farms from one another, the younger brother was approaching too, from the opposite direction. The sound of their footsteps alerted them both to the presence of the other. Looking up, and seeing the sacks of grain in each other’s hands, they realized at once what each other had been up to. Dropping their sacks, they embraced one another, recognizing - finally - that hunger has more than one cure.
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of Corpus Christi. It is one day each year, given to us to contemplate the eucharist, that gathers us here, Sunday by Sunday, across the course of the entire year. What does it mean, this familiar ritual, in which we are fed with a meager sliver of bread and a modest sip of wine, that the Church describes as Christ’s heavenly feast? Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
My friends, when Christ chose a meal as the context in which we were to remember him, do you think it was an accident? When Christ chose food as the means by which he would abide with us, do you suppose that it was on a whim? When Christ chose hunger as the eternal link between himself and us, do you imagine he had no purpose?
And so, let us remember, on this Solemnity of Corpus Christi, that the eucharist is meant, not only to satisfy, but also to stimulate, our hunger and thirst for Christ. And let us give thanks that having shared our human flesh, Christ understands and satisfies our hungers and thirsts. And let us pray that we may come to understand and satisfy his. – Fr. Brian
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Trinity, our belief in one God and three divine persons that we worship as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
For centuries theologians have written volume after volume trying to explain the mystery of the Trinity. Having studied some of those volumes when I was a student in the seminary, I can attest that some of what they have written tends to be so abstract as to make the mystery of the Trinity almost unintelligible to ordinary people. If you are having trouble sleeping at night, I can recommend a couple of these books to you. I guarantee they will put you right to sleep.
A few years ago I went to a talk at which the speaker gave a definition of the Trinity that was both simple and profound. He said, “To be God is to be in relationship.” It is of the very nature and essence of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit to be in a relationship of loving and creative intimacy. Our doctrine of the Trinity says that God is love. God is a loving relationship so intense and binding that the persons are one.
The doctrine of the Trinity also says that this loving relationship that is the inner life of God bursts out of God and makes creation, redemption and holiness happen. The love of God created the universe and all life within it. The love of God was the driving force behind the Incarnation, the birth of Jesus Christ in human form and sent to redeem the world. The love of God the Father and Jesus the Son are the driving force behind the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to be a source of holiness, guidance and courage for us. This love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is so powerful that it catches us up in its embrace, drawing us into the very life of God.
If it is true, then, that to be God is to be in relationship, then a corollary of this is that to be human is to be in relationship because we are made in the image and likeness of God. It is of the very nature and essence of who we are as human beings to be in loving, creative and intimate relationships with God and with one another. This is why Jesus gave us the Commandment of Love to remind us of who we are at our best. What defines us as human beings is that we are able to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. I once heard another Catholic spiritual writer express this beautifully when she said that we are made for union and meant for love. Think about that. We are made for union and meant for love.
Now this understanding of the Trinity, if we take it to heart, is very challenging. It challenges us to make healthy, loving, intimate relationships with people more important in our lives than work, money and material possessions, more important than those things we sometimes use to isolate ourselves from one another and from experiences of intimacy and love – things like alcohol or drugs, television, the internet, smart phones, social media and computer games.
In addition, when it comes to our relationships with one another, our belief in the Trinity challenges us to put aside our fears and hatreds, our prejudices and stereotypes and to break down the walls and barriers that we erect between one another because these things are incompatible with Trinitarian love.
To be God is to be in relationship. To be human is to be in relationship. We are invited today to make the Trinity more than just an abstract doctrine that we take down off a shelf, dust off and admire once a year. Today we go forth from here mandated by our God that we know as Father, Son and Holy Spirit to be a people motivated by love and who like God our Father find ways to create, protect, and defend all of life, who like Jesus the Son find ways to redeem the world and its people, and who like the Holy Spirit find ways to make our world holy, a world characterized by faith, hope and most especially love. – Fr. Paul