This Sunday is Corpus Christi—Body of Christ—Sunday, the Body of Christ experienced particularly in the Eucharist (Communion). Now, you may have noticed that the Eucharist is a gift that we cannot give to ourselves at home. It can be argued that it is the reason that we gather in church. We gather in church, as Church, because God “assumed” a human body, now shared in the Church, in a special way, in the Eucharist. Of course, Jesus shares with us his entire self.
Corpus Christi is perhaps most profoundly captured in Jesus’ discourse on the Bread of Life in John’s gospel chapter 6 (verse 51): I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. Jesus’ declaration is a bit overwhelming if taken more than symbolically. It prompted many of the disciples in his hearing to part ways with him. In this part of the Universal Church, we take it more than symbolically. Indeed, a mysterious gift is bestowed, a gift that communicates to us divine love. Divine love makes of us Sisters and Brothers, the Mystical Body of Christ. We do well to give thanks.
St. Thomas Aquinas (+1274) writes beautifully about this gift.
O precious and wonderful banquet,
that brings us salvation and contains all sweetness!
Could anything be of more intrinsic value?
…Here Christ himself, the true God, is set before us as our food.
What could be more wonderful than this?
No other sacrament has greater healing power;
…the soul is enriched with an abundance of every spiritual gift.
It is offered in the Church for the living and the dead.
…In the end, no one can fully express the sweetness of this sacrament,
in which spiritual delight is tasted at its very source,
and in which is shared that surpassing love for us
which Christ reveals in his passion.
It was to impress the vastness of this love
more firmly upon the hearts of the faithful
that our Lord instituted this sacrament at the Last Supper.
In thanksgiving with you for this gift,
From the desk of the Rector