As we get into the biblical readings for the Feast of Corpus Christi (May 29, 2016) - the Body (and Blood) of Jesus Christ, there are a number of meanings for the word “body”. I can barely begin to list them, much less write about the many subtle and profound theological discourses on each. We have:
• The physical body of Jesus, crucified and changed by the resurrection.
• The bread and wine as body (1 Cor 11:23-26), subject to multiple interpretations by Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist and other traditions. The tragedy is that what should be source of unity is a cause for division among us.
• Somehow we are all members of one body Eph 3:6 and as such are part of the body of Christ is this world. In this we may be able to regain some of the unity lost by our differences in understanding the Eucharist.
It is in this last sense, being the body of Christ on earth that we can reflect on the words “for you” in 1 Cor 11:24.What does it mean to say “…my body that is for you.”? Knowing the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection we can only read this as his giving up his body in the crucifixion. As his body is for us, our bodies can be for others. There are many ways in which we put our bodies on the line for those that we love. Husbands and wives give up their bodies every day for one another. They do this in many ways caring for one another in sickness and health and in good times and bad. Mothers give up their bodies in pregnancy and childcare. Fathers give up their bodies in many less direct ways, often working to the point of endangering their physical and emotional health. Soldiers, sailors, police and fire officers are willing to give up their very lives for others. Professionals that they are, they train to minimize the risks that they knowingly accept in order to serve others
On Monday we celebrate Mary’s Visitation to Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56).
Mary put her body in the service of her cousin during those last months of her pregnancy.
St. Francis de Sales once wrote to a young person who seemed to be wishing for a highly dramatic and heroic way of putting his body on the line – through martyrdom. His words were to the effect that we should turn our attention to the sacrifices that are in front of us and do them cheerfully, lovingly and willingly. Good words.
We do have daily opportunities to put them into practice. We can restore Christian unity in many ways that, at first glance may seem of little significance. In attending college and high school reunions we are putting ourselves in position (both physically and emotionally) to renew the love that we have for one another.
What better way to celebrate the feast of the Body of Christ than to renew our dedication t serving one another and the community at large?
(The lectionary repeats in three cycles. I wrote this on Corpus Christi 6 years ago. Maybe I'll repeat it again in three years. Maybe I'll live up to it by then.)