June 6, 2010
CORPUS CHRISTI (C)
I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you. – 1 Cor. 11: 23
We are indeed blessed to have the most holy sacrament of our Lord’s Body & Blood. It gives us a personal relationship with Jesus that transcends any warm fuzzy feeling. More than anything else, it is what sustains our spiritual life. But today I’m going to take a slightly different approach to the subject by emphasizing the personal relationship it provides us with each other.
In a very real sense, we are also the Body of Christ. We are members of the same body, interconnected by baptism, joined by grace, united by a common spirit. What we do or fail to do affects others: our love, our rejection, our prayer, our suffering, our pain.
When we sense that we are connected in this way, suffering & pain become powerful agents of grace. Nobody wants it, but when it comes, it has the potential for spiritual power. This is what we mean when we say, “I offer it up for the souls in purgatory” or anyone else for that matter. Offering up suffering for others boggles the modern, individualistic mind.
Because we are spiritually united, we can direct our energies, our prayers & our sufferings & deaths in a way the affects others. A society that sells drugs, facelifts & pills for every occasion says, “Suffering is absurd. It has no meaning. It has no redemptive value.” But we say it does. Christian truth is different. If we can gain graces for countless others it is because we are the Body of Christ. Here is a story that makes the point:
The pastor of a church stood up one morning, walked over to the pulpit as usual, but before he gave his sermon, he briefly introduced a guest minister who was present. The pastor told his people, that the guest minister was his dearest childhood friend & he wanted him to have a few moments to greet the church & share whatever he felt would be appropriate.
With that, an elderly man stepped up to the pulpit & began to speak. “Once upon a time, a father, his son, & a friend of his son were sailing off the Pacific coast,” he began, “when a fast approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to shore. The waves were so high that even though the father was an experienced sailor, he could not keep to boat upright & they were all swept into the ocean as the boat capsized.”
“Grabbing a rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of his life: to which boy would he throw the other end of the lifeline? He only had second to make the decision. The father knew that his son was a believer in Jesus, a good Christian, & he also knew that his son’s friend was not & was living a sinful life. Finally, as the father yelled out ‘I love you, son!’ he threw the lifeline to his son’s friend. By the time he pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beneath the raging swells into the black of night. His body was never recovered.”
“The father,” he continued, “knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus, but he could not bear the thought of the friend stepping into eternity without Jesus. So, he sacrificed his son to save the son’s friend.” He then paused & said with fervor, “How great is the love of God that he should do the same for us. Our heavenly father sacrificed his only begotten son that we could be saved. I urge you to accept his offer to rescue you & take hold of the lifeline he is throwing out to you.”
With that, the old man turned & sat back down in his chair as silence filled the room. Within minutes after the service was over, two teenagers came up to him & one said, “That was a nice story, but I don’t think it was very realistic.” “Well, you’ve got a point there, the old man replied.” As a soft smile broadened his narrow face, he looked at the boys & said, “It isn’t very realistic, is it? But I’m standing here today to tell you that the story gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for God to give up His son for me. You see, I was that father & your pastor over there … he is my son’s friend.” AMEN!