Today the Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, perhaps better known still as "Corpus Christi," Latin for "the Body of Christ." In the centuries since it was first established, enough has been written about it to fill libraries. This reflection offers just one small perspective.
It's a thought that first occurred to me one day when we were praying Psalm 78 about the behavior of God's people during the long desert journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. And God's behavior in return. The story offers a contrast so familiar we may not even notice it. Over and over and over again, the people fuss, complain, and wander off into ways alien to the God who is leading them. They gripe about food, they scream for water, they worship that golden calf, they close themselves into their tents for what must have been suffocating bouts of complaint. One of their most ungrateful (and most understandable) refrains is that they were better off in Egypt, where they had good things to eat in plenty. As we all know, memory often does cast a golden glow over a past less than pleasant! This goes on for forty years, till the old generation of those who remembered Egypt, is dead. Forty years!
But there is another side to those forty years. Every morning, including the mornings after their latest grousing fest, they got up to find the desert floor littered with manna. Whether they complained, disobeyed, or even worshipped a golden calf, they never went a day without that manna, on which their lives depended. It was there every day, no matter what. For forty years!
The solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ presents us with the reality of God's presence and the call to offer God our presence. And the Exodus story, which is not read today but certainly could be, reminds us forcefully that God's presence is steadfast. No matter how badly our fidelity may fail, God's never does. No matter how often we wander away chasing mirages in our personal deserts, God never does. God's presence which is condensed powerfully in the Eucharist but comes to us in all sorts of other ways as well--the Word, the daily inspirations that wake us up and guide us, the love others give us and we give them, the beauty of the world around us, Faithful to his other name, "Emmanuel," which means God-with-us, Jesus never leaves the scene. As we saw in the Easter stories, even locked doors can't keep him out.
God's steadfast presence is the presence of creative love. Christ is the mirror in whom we can see every day what it looks like to live more deeply and grow more fully into that same love. In him we see the fullness of our own commitment to both steadfast stability and every living love.
Copyright 2021 Abbey of St. Walburga