Homilies,  Sunday

Corpus Christi Sunday 2021

 We know today that very few people still derive their information from the traditional newspaper. There are not a few young people who have never read a newspaper. Their news come entirely from social media. If people do venture away from social media and look for news through an online platform then they are confronted with sites that offer literally a smorgasbord of news with very little commentary or analysis.

I find these pages fascinating, and rather disturbing, I find them fascinating for several reasons: firstly, for the sheer volume of stories that are posted there; secondly for the extraordinary banality of most of them; and thirdly for the way in which the most serious are juxtaposed with the most trivial – all with equal weighting. It is an extraordinary menu of the serious with the titillating all vying for the attention of the reader, and it always makes me think, “What on earth is going on here? Who is feeding us this stuff? And why? What interest could most of this have for people? And if it does, what does it say about what we look for, about what satisfies us?” Have we come to the age where even bread and circuses have become totally confused, so that we gorge ourselves only with the superficial, the trivial, the fleeting, and can no longer attend to the deepest hungers of our hearts? 

With what are we being fed? Is our daily fare being given to us as a diet of the banal? This would be serious enough in itself, but it also asks us to consider with what else we are fed? Children can be quite picky as to what they eat, as we know, but if only we, as adults, were as picky with the premises that are dished up to us on a daily basis in many of the social arguments that make up our conversation – premises such as how we feel determines the truth and the value of something, that feeling happy is the sign that we have found the solution to our questions, that equality equals sameness, that control is the source of our dignity. Underneath many of the positions that are put forward to us on a platter these days, and marinaded with reasonableness, we are being fed a lie which only a developed palate can taste. 

It is a great challenge for us to discern what we are being fed, to be able to recognise what we are eating, because in the end it is true that ‘we become what we eat.’ To be fed banality, is to become banal; to be fed lies is to live a lie. But we are those who seek more than the banal; we are those who seek the truth. And for this reason, we come to this table to be fed. It is not the table of social titillation; it is not the table of lazy thinking. It is the table of self-sacrificing love; the table from which we are fed an entire way of living; the table from which we are given the very life of Jesus as the food and drink that alone might truly satisfy our hunger. 

At his Last Supper Jesus wholly identifies himself with bread and wine and he gives these to us. He says take this bread; take this wine. But the drama of the Last Supper is that Jesus does not say, “This bread and this wine is like my life; these are a symbol of my life.” Or, “when you eat this bread and drink this cup you are to think about my life. Jesus is going much further. He is saying, “You are not just remembering my life, or considering this is like my life.” He is saying, “This is my life.” How more 

emphatically can this be stated than by saying, “this is my flesh, this is my blood?” To say “this is my flesh, this is my blood” is to underscore that the bread and wine are the very substance of my life. For flesh and blood are the two irreducible principle of life; they are the means by which life lives. These terms, so graphic and so visceral, force us to consider that we have moved beyond metaphor in the mystery of Eucharist. They force us to consider the radical depth of what we are doing. We are assuming the very life of Jesus into ourselves. We are fed his life so that we might become his life. I feed you my life so that you might become what you eat. 

Lord, “You know our neediness, the primal hungers we are driven to satisfy . . . You know well my divided human persona, the spirit of life and the spirit of desperation. Fill my despair, Lord, with the bread of your presence. Let me not be afraid to be hungry, let me not be afraid of those who are hungry. . . . In giving yourself to me you give me what I need more than anything else: a love that is always there, a love that will never change . . . Bread fresh and warm and breathing like flesh. You give me yourself, even to death, in a love that reduces all my other cravings to exactly what they are: cries of attention and consolation; cries that are, in the end, destined to circle the world like dust in the wind; cries of a lonely, comfortless heart . . . Teach me to feed myself with your love . . . The bread you give is life everlasting.”[1]

And so let us eat and let us drink from this table, so that we might become bread and wine in a world hungry for life that is real and true.


[1] Dorothy A.Lee and John Honner, Wisdom and Demons: Meditations on Scripture (Melbourne: Auroroa Books, David Lovell Publishing, 1993), 118-119.  

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