Just a word… Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Just a word… Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ… June 14, 2020
In 1844, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “the only gift is a portion of thyself. Thou must bleed for me.” Those words can certainly be applied to the gift that the Eucharist is to the Christian Community. By receiving that gift, a portion of the Christ, our spiritual hunger is satisfied and our spirits built up. How amazing and how miraculous is this gift left to us by Christ!
Satisfying spiritual hunger is most excellent, of course, but are there other ways in which our God has provided for God’s people throughout the Scriptures? We hear in the reading from Deuteronomy today that the Israelites were hungry as they wandered in the desert and our good Lord provided them with manna and with water from the rock. To the leper whose body was falling apart, Jesus offered the only bread that mattered to him at that moment, the bread of physical healing. To the woman at Jacob’s well, Jesus offered the bread of kindness and satisfied her hunger for acceptance and love. To those who were rejected by the community of their time, Jesus mixed with them and ate with them, offering them companionship and satisfying their longing for self worth. To the widow of Naim, burying her only son, and to Martha and Mary who just buried their brother Lazarus, Jesus offered the bread of sympathy and showed them that even in death we are not beyond the reach of God’s hand. Jesus awakened a hunger for a better life in Zaccheus, one who had robbed from the poor, inspiring him to share with the poor. And to the “good thief” crucified next to him, Jesus offered reconciliation, bringing peace to the man as he died.
“The only gift is a portion of thyself. Thou must bleed for me,” Emerson said. In each of the circumstances noted in these Scriptures, the Lord provided nourishment in whatever way it was needed. In each case, God was at work, feeding, changing, renewing and ultimately transforming the recipient of the gift. And so it is for us. When we bring our hungers, be they physical – for food or employment or healing – or spiritual, for reconciliation or discernment or comfort, whatever our hungers might be, the Eucharistic gift Christ offers, his bleeding for us, can satisfy that need and transform us in the process, that we might be used as Eucharist for others. Jesus, after all, did not institute the Eucharist to simply change bread and wine into His Body and Blood because He could, but as a reminder of His life and teachings, so as to transform us into a clearer and more recognizable image of the Body of Christ.