Corpus Christi – Year B – Community of Creation
Many years ago I knew a family in California which was especially noted for its openness and hospitality. Marysia directed a child welfare agency and spent her days taking care of problems too gruesome to think about. At home, her husband and children always made room for someone in need at the family table. Marysia’s teenage son might bring a friend home for something to eat after a game, or husband Jim might have a friend in two for supper who has not been eating because he recently lost his wife. Many of us probably know of one such family which always has a welcome for the unexpected guest who arrives at the door. Such people’s generosity made me blush with shame at my own failures in that department.
Setting the table for a guest, someone in need, the poor, is the call of Christ and reminds us why we celebrate today’s feast. We are here because of an act of divine love and self-giving – Mark 14: 24 & John 3: 16. God has set the table for us in hopes that we do the same thing in loving service for one another. Mass, the Eucharist is about far more than just me and Jesus. Back in the last century, there was a big emphasis on the Eucharist as a celebration of the whole Mystical Body of Christ. Vatican II saw the Eucharist as the meal of the People of God. Irish missionary and theologian Fr. Donal Dorr mentions that some theologians have reservations about adoration before the blessed sacrament, feeling it takes the emphasis off the central fact that the Eucharist is a sacred meal. He goes on to point out, however, that the monstrance can be viewed as a focusing mandela that both encases and exposes the Eucharistic Jesus as the Cosmic Christ who brings us into communion with all humanity and with all of creation (1).
Pope Francis, like his two predecessors, has drawn our attention to this ‘cosmic’ dimension of the Eucharist. The Eucharist extends outward and way beyond its sacramental celebration on the altar. I invite you to take and read paragraphs 236 & 237 of ‘Laudato Si‘, Pope Francis’ 2015 Encyclical on ecology. Read those two paragraphs slowly, reflectively and prayerfully. And then read them again. This section of the letter (paras 233 -237) is a telling insight into the church’s contemporary understanding of the sacraments and especially the Holy Eucharist. The Host in the monstrance is encircled by the Host of God’s people whom It is destined to nourish. God’s people are encircled by a much larger Host which is nothing less than the universe itself. “These circles,” writes Fr. Dermot Lane, “spread out from the Eucharist to the worshipping community, to the community of creation, and, ultimately, to the universe” (2).
Here are some lines from para 236 of ‘Laudato Si‘ – see if you can connect the dots: “In the bread of the Eucharist, creation is projected toward divinisation. God comes not from above, but from within that we might find him in this world. The Lord, in the culmination of the Mystery of the Incarnation, chose to reach our intimate depths through a fragment of matter (the host). The Eucharist is the living centre of the universe. The Eucharist joins heaven and earth; it embraces and penetrates all creation.”
Commenting on Sunday, the day of rest and celebration of the Eucharist, Francis says: “Sunday is meant to be a day which heals our relationships with God, with ourselves, with others and with the world…. We tend to demean contemplative rest as something unproductive and unnecessary…. Rest opens our eyes to the larger picture and gives us renewed sensitivity to the rights of others. Centred on the Eucharist, the day of rest sheds light on the whole week, and motivates us to greater concern for nature and the poor” – Laudato Si, 237. The encyclical, among other things, invites people of faith to see and celebrate in the Eucharist the Body of Christ in all its cosmic dimensions and spiritual richness.
To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work – Mary Oliver
Fr. QQ – 06/02/2021
1 – Donal Dorr, A CREED FOR TODAY, pp. 120-125
2 – Deermot A. Lane, THEOLOGY AND ECOLOGY IN DIALOGUE, p. 145