Sunday, June 23, 2019
+Corpus Christi C+
The Eucharist is the embodiment, in time and space, of the inexhaustible, self-sacrificing love of the Trinity that creates, sustains, and redeems us.
In sacrificing love, there is always pain and joy, struggle and calm, exhaustion and triumph—and blood, the losing of life in giving life.
Jesus gives all, emptying himself into flesh, emptying himself into bread and wine, emptying himself on the cross. He literally says to us, “What? You want a piece of me?”
Jesus doesn’t do this for me, instead of me, rather, he is the pattern, he is the path for my life: No one takes my life from me, I lay it down.
So many people fight against death all their lives, until it has to kill them. So many people live in the past until they have no future. So many people clutch possessions until they are ripped from them.
“Take and eat. Become what you eat. I enter you broken in order to be shared, so that you can find burning within the joy I share with Father and Spirit.”
The public act of receiving Holy Communion together proclaims that through, with, in Jesus, we are willing to die in order to hand on deathless life.
It proclaims that the meaning of ourlives is to give ourselves away in love, in the face of what we humans do with love. As Paul says in 2nd Corinthians:
But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
This is from a book by a psychiatrist who is also an Episcopal priest. She describes what happened at a Mass after she consecrated a small, hard-crusted loaf and got to the Fraction Rite:
…I couldn’t break the bread at all. The smooth surface of the bread was crushed in the difficult, awkward process of tearing, pulling, and severing the bread from itself.
When it was done, we looked at one another. I was shaking, and could see stunned recognition in the eyes of the others. So this is the meaning behind the words we hear every week: “This is my Body given for you.”
Not an easy gift, not a neat, elegant break, but a long, labored, untidy tearing of the flesh of the bread. The immaculate movement of the ritual had been powerfully interrupted by the stark messiness of reality—and this, after all, was the true meaning of what we were doing.
Unbearable. Overpowering. Too much. All of us wanted to run away from the too-intense reality that had broken through the ritual we had grown so coolly accustomed to.
Long. Labored. Untidy. The stark messiness of reality. The true meaning of what we were doing. Unbearable. Overpowering. Too much.
Bozarth, Alla Renèe. Life is Goodbye Life is Hello: Grieving Well Though All Kinds of Loss.
CompCare Publishers: Minneapolis 1986, p.9