Sunday, June 02, 2013

Sunday word, 02 Jun 2013

Letter to a Shy Person
Solemnity of Body and Blood of Christ (C) (02 Jun 2013)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
The Body and Blood of Christ Jesus. Quiet yourself for a few moments and allow your inmost self to become alert to what that phrase implies, signifies, communicates to you. Not the words but the truth behind and beneath them, Body and Blood of Christ

  • Jesus himself; 
  • Sacrament;
  • Real Presence; 
  • Nourishment;
  • Food for the journey;
  • Gift.
If we had time and people were willing we would hear other meanings that came to us in those still seconds within our inmost selves. I would like to reflect briefly with you about gift: Jesus’ self-gift to us.

Gifts kindle in us response and responsibility. A person’s gift of self awakens a weighty responsibility and a desire to respond. Both express themselves in action. St. Paul did not awake one morning and decide, “I think I will write my friends about what Jesus said and did at the last supper because I feel it will inspire them.” He wrote to them what Jesus said and did because be was angry that they were doing Eucharist but not living it.

In those early days the Eucharist happened at a dinner. People brought food, but not everyone was able to eat well or even at all. People who had plenty did not share with those who had little or no food. Some who had food tried to outdo others in what they would bring. Others did not wait to eat with the rest.

So St. Paul wrote those facts to the Corinthians in the verse immediately before the words from his letter that we heard as the second reading.1 He went on to say their inconsideration shocked and horrified him: their mean spiritedness toward one another disregarded Jesus, who had given himself for them and to them.

The responsibility the Corinthians ignored had inner and outgoing attitudes. They closed themselves to Jesus by not being open to others; and they did not cultivate their relationships with Jesus by showing concern for others.

We receive Jesus’ Body and Blood as the Corinthians, though Mass is no more part of an ordinary supper. Each time we receive Jesus’ Body and Blood, Mass commissions and sends us to go in faith, hope and love to serve our Lord. Jesus reminds us his self-gift he never gives to us to keep private. He give us himself to help us nourish, endow and assist others. Doing those is how we save our souls.

Jesus gives himself to us that where we live and find ourselves we can be Jesus’ hands, eyes, feet and heart. Our Eucharistic responsibility is to cultivate our relationship with Jesus not just to receive him. We may ask, Where is Jesus? In his body the Church and in the world. Jesus is in others, esp. those in any need. To cultivate a relationship means both to cherish the other and to open ourselves to the other. This is the truth behind Jesus’ words to his disciples when they were with that large crowd: “Give them some food yourselves.” It also reminds us that it takes effort to cultivate our gift of Jesus, of faith.

In a letter to a shy person who feared he lost his faith, the American Catholic novelist, Flannery O’Connor, wrote of our responsibility to cultivate our gift of faith. “If you want your faith,” she wrote, “you have to work for it. It is a gift, but for very few is it given without any demand for equal time devoted to its cultivation” by them.2

We can say the same. We can say it about the part of our faith we celebrate with sharp focus today, Jesus’ self-gift of his body and blood. “Equal time” to Jesus’ self-gift means to ask Jesus, “How are you changing me, how are you calling me now to join your mission of pro-claiming the kingdom by my thoughts, my words and especially my actions?” To chat with Jesus that way requires a few quiet minutes. To cultivate our relationship with Jesus means that we take concrete steps to respond to Jesus changing us and inviting us to join him. Because it is a relationship, it is not just about us or to be done by us alone. Before we do anything we ask Jesus for grace to open to him and to others.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in the Trinity, whose Second Person became human for us.
  • Ask St. Paul and the Twelve to present you to Jesus. Chat with Jesus:
  • Praise him for giving his body and blood to you;
  • Ask him for grace to respond to him by responding to others.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. To pray his words, give us...our daily bread, is to pray for him and his help when we leave his altar to do his kingdom work outside.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. 1Corinthians 11.22.
  2. In The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor, p. 477, a page available online.
Wiki-images of pelican feeding young with her blood, public domain (its history in Christian art); and of Corpus Christi procession, public domain in source country and U.S.

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