Solemnity of the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ – 2020 – Fr. Rick Sherman
1 Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-58
“The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.” 1 Cor 10:16-17
This weekend as part of our celebration of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ we have participated with Dioceses all over the world in several hours of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Bishop Solis has requested that we pray especially for a quick cure for the Corona Virus, for Peace and for an end to racism.
As you recall, in Adoration or also called Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, we place a consecrated host, the Body of Christ in a gold monstrance and place it on the altar for minutes or hours in order to put ourselves very deliberately and physically in the presence of Jesus. We mostly practice quiet time during these periods with an emphasis on gratitude and listening. As we did here this weekend we often times make a little throne for the monstrance to sit on in recognition of the majesty and kingship of Jesus. Recall that a solemnity observed in November is the solemnity of Jesus Christ King of the Universe.
The little throne helps us recall that Jesus is the King; we are the subjects. In a kingdom, the king makes the rules. However, in this kingdom we are called to be even more than subjects but partners (spouses) in a covenant relationship with God and each other. As Paul said today, we participate in the blood and the body of Christ.
Recall that last week we sited the Catholic Catechism when speaking of praying. The Catechism states that:
2564 Christian prayer is a covenant relationship between God and man in Christ. It is the action of God and of man, springing forth from both the Holy Spirit and ourselves, wholly directed to the Father, in union with the human will of the Son of God made man.
Ultimately a covenant relationship, as in marriage, is a love relationship; a relationship of the heart. Again, from the Catechism…..
2563 The heart is the dwelling-place where I am, where I live; according to the Semitic or Biblical expression, the heart is the place “to which I withdraw.” The heart is our hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others; only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully. The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives. It is the place of truth, where we choose life or death. It is the place of encounter, because as image of God we live in relation: it is the place of covenant.
As is posted on our website, this weekend we had the opportunity to participate in a virtual Eucharistic Congress where over fifty presenters talked personally about their encounters with Christ and how the Eucharist continues to feed and strengthen that relationship as well as with the wider Body of Christ. Over 80,000 people logged into the congress over the three days. This is very encouraging. It shows that quite a few people are making the attempt to be in a covenant relationship with Jesus, the spouse, and Jesus the King of the universe and all His subjects. This is world changing when we remember that God is still on the throne.
This is particularly pertinent during this time of DE-throning and DEfunding.
Nationally and internationally we see cultures bring down some of their national and cultural heroes. Robert E. Lee statues and other Confederate officers are being defaced and removed in the southern cities by protesters and legal civic authorities. Several military bases named for Confederate officers will likely be renamed or somehow more appropriately memorialized.
Winston Churchill statues in England have been defaced and at least temporarily moved or covered because of his alleged racism.
Statues of Cecil Rhodes in England, initiator of the Rhodes Scholarship, are being denigrated due to his alleged exploitive and racist business and finance interests in the African diamond trade.
King Leopold statues in Belgium have been pulled down in protest of his racist, colonizing activity in Congo, Africa in the 1900’s.
Christopher Columbus’ head has been knocked off a couple statues ….again. There’s a movement to rename Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day.
Of course the ongoing critique of Thomas Jefferson as slave-owner and father of a biracial child from a black mistress continues.
Some groups still want to remove Andrew Jackson’s image from the $20 bill and other places because of his racist behavior against Native Americans, especially in helping to send the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma.
Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Davis, CA was recently defaced in protest of his alleged sexist and racist attitudes and behavior. I’d not heard of this before.
No doubt we will be seeing more of this type of social and mob critique going forward for a while. A big part of the point here is the apparent need to rethink or question our heritage; our founding mythologies. On what are we really basing our culture and social norms? This is actually a very important thing to do and must be done regularly with competent guidance. We should examine our own consciences daily as well as the behavior and attitudes of our families, towns and nations. We see in our ongoing study of salvation history that the Old Testament regularly alludes to the need for converting nations. We are also judged by God as nations.
The big question is: once we have pulled down the criminals and called out the racists and fired the bums, with whom do we replace them? What is the true narrative of our cultures and societies? If we have been living in a made-up origin mythology, then who are we? Who will sort it out? Who will lead? What unifying principles will they/we use?
Many of us can still recall the dramatic 2003 event of Iraqi citizens and U.S. Soldiers pulling down the statue of Sadaam Hussein in Bagdad. Almost immediately the looting of the palace of priceless national treasures began. The tribal fighting in the aftermath has continued for the next 17 years with only a fragile government to try to reimagine a better state of affairs. And of course that’s just one country in the ever-more violent middle-east.
The big question is: Then who do we put on the throne? Jesus Christ of course! The same one we placed on the altar for Adoration and the same one who instituted the Eucharist and the Catholic Church whose mission is to go forth and teach ALL NATIONS. The Church has got this figured out and we have 4,000 years of reflected experience to guide us.
We just need to do it. Western civilization flowed out of cultures heavily influenced by the Catholic Church, and Christianity in general. If we look hard enough, or look just a little bit, we will see there are many ‘remnant’ Catholic groups in our country and throughout the world who are taking seriously our covenant relationship with the Lord, in marriage, as the Body of Christ and as disciples and apostles to the world.
In our growing state of confusion, this is the most opportune time to put Jesus Christ back on the throne and remind ourselves that He is the King and we are the subjects.