Feast of Corpus Christi
Dear Friends, today we are celebrating a wonderful feast along with the whole community of the Church, the feast of Corpus Christi. For some, this feast is an occasion to declare and defend a great belief in our Catholic faith, namely, the true presence of Jesus in the holy Eucharist, body and blood, soul and divinity, the “great mystery of our faith.” And so it is. And sad to say there are many who do not realize or even embrace what this great mystery means to us all.
But we also have another opportunity presented to us on this very wonderful feast of Corpus Christi. It was none other than St. Thomas Aquinas himself who petitioned Pope Urban to make the feast of Corpus Christi a universal day of celebration. He believed that we needed to unite as a truly “catholic” community of believers and celebrate, rejoice in the beauty and wonder of this great gift from God. The feast of Corpus Christi is an opportunity for us all to be amazed at the wonders that God does for us. We remember the night before Jesus died; we remember his last words to us as he said, “Do this in memory of me.”
And why is this feast so special? Why should we rejoice as a people so loved by God to receive such a great gift? Every time we gather around the table of the Lord not only do we receive the Bread of Life but we are also made one in him whom we receive. In other words, as we receive Christ in the Eucharist, we are made one with him and are united as one body with each other. And so we sing so joyfully: “One bread, one body, one Lord of all, one cup of blessing which we bless. And we, though many, throughout the earth, we are one body in this one Lord. Gentile or Jew, servant or free, woman or man, no more.”
Today our world is so divided. There is dissension in every place. It seems we are lost and do not know how to find that center once again that makes us one, one people, one human family that chooses to love over all else. In place of love we seek power, wealth, and domination, as if this could possibly make us great! The gift of Corpus Christi is the wonderful reminder that we will only be united once again when we choose love, the kind of love that Jesus demonstrated so totally when he gathered his disciples at the final meal, the final seder supper, before he poured out his life for us on the Cross. Corpus Christi reminds us of that moment and challenges us to go forth and do the same thing that Jesus did: to go to the cross with forgiveness, mercy, and love in our hearts. Let’s celebrate this great day and let’s try to do for one another what Jesus did so completely for us!
Fr. Pat Brennan, C.P. is the director of Saint Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat and Conference Center, Detroit, Michigan.