"Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because of these parts, though many make one body, so it is with Christ." (1 Corinthians 12: 12:13)
The Feast of Corpus Christi is one of my favourites. I think it goes to my childhood when we attended the processions that used to be associated with this Sunday. Probably in my youth, I somehow thought that this feast had something to do with the end of the school year and the beginning of the long-awaited summer holidays.
For Catholics, in particular, this Sunday is of extreme importance as it confirms our belief in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. This affirmation of the paschal mystery is essential to our understanding not only of the Eucharist but to the Church Herself. "Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread." (1 Corinthians 10:16 )
I remember someone telling me once that the single most important accomplishment of the great Pope, Saint John Paul II, was the number of hours he would spend before the Blessed Sacrament in prayer and adoration. The Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, whom I consider a prophet for our own times, recommended that all priests and Religious spend at least one hour a day in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. If this had been heeded, one wonders if the Church might have avoided the many scandals of abuse so prevalent in the later 1960s and the 1970s. Similarly, if families attended Mass together and prayed together, one wonders if the family would not be in its present state of disintegration. The forces of darkness cannot attack God directly, so they choose to attack the most precious things for God. I would maintain that two very precious treasures are, first, the belief that the Eucharist is Jesus, God incarnate, the Word made Flesh that dwelt among us, while the other is the family. As the family goes, so goes society around us. The Christian understanding of the family is under attack from every corner and at all times today.
St. Paul, in several of his letters, refers to the Body of Christ. Although these references are not directly in relation to the Eucharist, they convey, in my opinion, another important aspect of the Catholic understanding of Christ's real presence. This sublime sacrament is not intended for the individual alone but the collective body of believers. Just as it transforms us, its individual members, the Eucharist also transforms the community of believers.
The last few months, which have been extremely challenging from so many perspectives, should have taught us that it is impossible to confront these challenges alone and left to our own devices. As I have asked our school community of late, we must come together and face these things together but always from the inspiration of the Gospel message of Christ. It is here that St. Paul's analogy or metaphor of the Body of Christ, the Church, is so timely and salutary for us.
"God put all the separate parts into the body on purpose. If all the parts of the body were the same, how could it be a body? As it is, the parts are many, but the body is one… Now you together are Christ's body; but each of you is a different part of it." (1 Corinthians 12: 18 – 27)
Brother Domenic, fsc