This past week, our family gathered on the Redig Family Farm for our annual clean-up day. This is a day we set aside each year in spring to clean the family farm inside and out—washing windows, cleaning out cupboards, dusting hidden corners, weeding flower beds, trimming trees, picking up debris on woods’ trails and hauling it all away. You get the idea. And amid all this sprucing up there is lots of conversation and catching up on each other’s lives. Of course there is the potluck meal at noon that sustains us throughout all the house and yard work. And what gathering in Winona would be complete without a sampling of Bloedows’ donuts mid-morning? A nephew so indulged us. The day ended with a cook-out of hotdogs and marshmallows plus the added joy of blessing the marriage of a niece and her husband by the family gathered.
As I reflected on the meaning of Corpus Christi, which means, as you know, the Body of Christ, it struck me that our gathering was a wonderful sign and symbol for what this feast should call up in each of us. Jesus our brother came among us to show us how much we are each loved by God. He totally immersed himself in created life; the goodness of relationships, the ups and downs of all that life brings. He lived and died in an all-encompassing way to show us the way to do the same. His passage into resurrected life gave us the promise and hope of the same.
Because he wanted to remain close to all of created life even when he could no longer remain here physically; he gave us a most wonderful gift, that of the Eucharist. With his words, “This is my body, this is my blood,” whenever we gather to remember and share this sacred meal, he is with us in a special way—we don’t know how exactly, but in the words of the hymn, we remember, we celebrate, we believe!
And as wonderful as this gift is to behold and partake in; we must see it as only the beginning, the starting place in our lives as Christians, as followers of our brother Jesus. We would do better, and I must give my husband Robert credit for this, to see the Eucharist as a verb as opposed to a noun, for you see, Jesus never intended it to be a static encounter between God and us as individuals, but the impetus for us moving out into our world and again through the words of a hymn, become “bread” for that same world.
In the past; I believe all of us got stuck in the piety of reverencing the body and blood on the altar, taking it no further, letting it be a noun, instead of a verb—an action word. Because we didn’t make the connection, we forgot about Jesus’ body and blood in the world, in all the faces, in all the lives of those that we meet each day. The reception of the Eucharist, it seems to me, was always and is today, just the starting place for us—the challenge for us is to then become the bread—the body of Jesus in our world—that is where the transubstantiation really needs to take place!
Just like my opening example of family gathered, there was at the end of the day of being together, working, sharing a meal and conversing, the hope and promise of more in the future. Each time we gather here, likewise, to pray, to share, to eat this sacred meal; we are simply starting, and must move out then into our individual lives, choosing to be present to the body of Christ that we meet each day in our homes, at work, at the grocery store—wherever our lives take us.
Our Christian lives friends are a challenge—we are meant to be active as a result of our baptisms. In that light, another opportunity has availed itself this week in the request from the Dan Corcoran House for volunteers to do 4-hour shifts “on the house.” This is an opportunity which may work for some of you and if interested, I can get the information to you as to how to be involved. There are countless ways for us to be bread for our world, and, through our parish, many of you are already involved very generously and for that, I am most grateful. You are an encouragement to me and models for my actions.
Our commitment to our God must always carry us out of ourselves as St. Edith Stein, Jewish nun and convert from Judaism, living under Nazi occupation said, “Dedication to God means dedication to the whole of creation.” The Eucharist friends, is not a static noun, but a challenging, active verb and Jesus’ words, “This is my body, this is my blood” sends us forth into our world. Hopefully, we can respond, “Amen!”