Corpus Christi

Are you ready for this?  That’s usually an alarming introduction to the next action or statement.  Are you sitting down?  We like to get warnings ahead of time.  They give us time to prepare.  It’s only fair to have time to prepare.  No surprise exams.  We are at our best when we can prepare.  Before an exam, ball game, recital.  We like rehearsals.  But even our best effort needs to be met with a good response.  There is no guarantee either way: that we will perform well or that it will be received well.  It’s a gift.  When it happens, we are raised to a new level.  I couldn’t have imagined it.  Everything came together.

The disciples asked Jesus, Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?  They needed time to prepare.  We spend much of our time preparing for something.  We need schedules and agendas for good organization and planning.  We don’t like surprises.  Preparation is good insurance.  Maybe our organized religion is fundamentally an insurance policy.  The disciples followed Jesus’ instructions, but found most of the preparations were already made.  No grounds for taking personal credit.  This sounds similar to situations where we think we have opened new territory only to find that God and others have been there before us and made possible what we do.  To know what God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Cor: 2:9).

 The disciples should have been surprised that Jesus would be able to predict so accurately the incidents they would meet.  Surprise and amazement can be the beginnings of awe and adoration.  Instead of the more typical rationalization, the holy and the mysterious can be allowed to appear, breakdowns of planned programs and over-organization.  Instead of separating and splitting, things can come together in surprising ways.  Empty spaces can be left clear, waiting for the unplanned and unprepared.  Instead of filling them in or obsessing with clarity, adoration can simply abide in the present (vs. where do you want us to go?) and look with whole-hearted attention.  This is the kind of response that will then see what others cannot see, will see the Lord present where others see only a bread wafer.  The visible and rational level has been broken open to reveal the gifting presence of the divine.

The Lord has unified what appears to us to be contradictory:  a meal and a sacrifice, sharing of life and death, humanity and divinity, body and spirit, worship of the Father and service to his brothers and sisters.  Everything has come together (not in ways we could have prepared).  Divine love has become embodied.  It is an eternal gift which depends on its living acceptance to be realized.  I never  could have imagined it.  What prepares us for this gift?  The gift itself in the form of Christ’s body and humanity.  In receiving his body and blood, we become his body and blood.  In one sense, the whole of our life has prepared us for the moment of receiving his body.  Just as the whole of Israel’s history prepared humanity for receiving the Word.

I often return to Herbert McCabe’s formulation that to be alive, we must love, must break out of the confines of our ego defenses and self -infatuation.  But if we love, we will be killed because the world refuses to countenance love as operative or structural (God Still Matters). As Jesus is evidence,  the powers of the world will reject, abuse, and attempt to eradicate love as a threat.  The world is not ready for this.  What sort of reception do we give to the word and body of Christ?  The people of Israel responded, All that the Lord has said we will heed and do.  What does our Amen mean when we receive his body?  Are we really ready for this? Amen.