Saturday, 13 June 2009

Corpus Chirsti - What does it mean in your life?

This Sunday we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ, and the gospel is taken from Mark (14:12-16,22-26). I will try and give a reflection on this feast and continue the thread I have been trying to start over the last month...

Earlier in the week I visited the Dominican Priory in Zwolle (Netherlands) and after visiting the friars had dinner with the sisters (in a different part of th cloister) and two young women who life with them.We had a very interesting and long talk about prayer, and what prayer really is. I usually stress the importance of "the personal relationship" with Jesus as a fundamental element in our belief, but I learned that that phrase sometimes calls on the wrong idea... I guess the phrase is often used in maybe a different context, as was pointed out, with a touch of superiority and maybe too unreal. I will maybe see if I can find a better way of expressing the relation I mean, and maybe the Gospel of today can help, as this relation is with Jesus, truly present to us. I think this relation can be very real and very personal, but not in a public way but private, and not in an "exciting" way but secret and silent.

To set the tone, In the gospel we read that Jesus is saying that he wants "to eat the passover with [his] disciples" (Mar 14:14 RSV). This is not a public occasion, but something together with His friends. Also, it is not something we have to do that much for, as the man "will show you a large upper room furnished and ready;"  (Mar 14:16 RSV), all is prepared, it is an invitation...

This is something I am thinking of more and more, and it makes me sometimes feel uncomfortable. God has placed the disire to know Him in every human being. We will only find the fullness of our being in Him. But so many people do not seem to be too interested. This contrast strikes me especially when I am away from Ireland and am home... when I look around town, watch a bit of television en take the in the general atmosphere. There is no mention of God at all, and there seems to be no obvious interest... Was this different in the past, were people more open to the reality of God? Is this normal how human beings are, (outwardly) seemingly disinterested in God? And what is it that they see as believing? What is the value of people who do go to a church?

As I write probably too often, for me it was, and is, really discovering the living God, and to know God, to have Him central in my life. Not something just for a Sunday, but the real exciting prospect of having God as a friend... who want to eat the passover with His friends. This is a real intimacy, a union which we cannot comprehend, but it is a reality as when during the supper Jesus takes the bread and says "Take; this is my body." (Mar 14:22 RSV) and "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."  (Mar 14:24-25 RSV)

Jesus invites us, and comes to us, he abides with us: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him." (Joh 6:56 RSV) A mystery indeed, but a very joyful one! He does not only invites us for a meal, but makes himself the meal... he gives himself fully to us, into a union which is closer than any union between humans can ever be. I find it sometimes difficult that there seems to be so little interest in this central point of our life. God comes to us, we only have to come forward and receive Him!

How to express it... it is the yearning for God which is constantly in my heart, which becomes satisfied in the meeting of Him in the Eucharist: Corpus Christi. It makes me sad to think that so many of our fellow Christians who have lost this great gift, either by separation or by disbelief, the gift of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist... "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you;"  (Joh 6:53 RSV)

Whatever about theological views regards this line in relation to the afterlife, I am as sad from the point that here and now in this live this gift of life is rejected... the offering of Jesus, the offering of himself to us, in the Eucharist, to give us life, to give us the fullness of joy in His presence, not only in the future but here and now...

So finally, as usual I am jumping from one thing to the next, did I explain any more of what this personal relation is? Again, I have to confess that I probably didn't, but it seems to me that it is something that cannot really be related that easy. I throw out some random ideas that come into my head hoping that one of them might, through the grace of God, help somebody to have a little glimpse of the reality. When I receive the Blessed Eucharist during mass I always look forward to it, but I never get any sensual satisfaction out of it... This is where this deep personal relationship becomes a mystery, as it is not something sensual, but as I see it much deeper down in our soul. Something we just know it is there, but most of the time do not experience (although sometimes when we fall away from God we notice the absence).

A final illustration I might give is the following...
One time last year we were away for a few days from the priory. I have the habit of spending at least a solid hour in the church or chapel in the presence of the blessed sacrament, being it in the tabernacle or exposed in Eucharistic adoration (which is my favorite way of praying).
When on our way back I really got this deep desire of going to the chapel, of just saying hello, of spending some time there after being away for so long. It was in a way really like the feeling one might have when going to the airport to collect a family member who has been away for a long time, or like a boy/girl friend which might even give a stronger desire. I think that our relation with Jesus can be like that, and sometimes, like that time for me, it can really manifest itself like that.

It reveals a small bit of the mystery in such an experience, it makes it more real, but those moments of grace are often far en between. Also, when being back home I went to the chapel, and when finally there, being tired from the journey, the experience was again like receiving Communion during mass... nothing happened... but I knew He was there, and I watched with Him for some time, trusting on His love for me, and trying to give Him my love for Him....

1 comment:

Nod said...

Thanks for your thoughts this week on this most holy solemnity.


The Irish Dominicans have a website called Dominicans Interactive with online resources. We also have an iPhone/iPad App, which can be found in the iTunes App Store.


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