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Feast of Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi   2024                                                                              Boarbank Hall

                                                  

In Memory of Me (1 Cor 11:23-6)


 St. Paul had been given a vision of the meaning of Christ on the Road to Damascus. It determined the rest of his life. Paul was to proclaim this meaning in the whole world, and he had his strategy for doing so. He had two specific approaches: one was to try to convert the Jews. This meant convincing them that Jesus was the Messiah (against the detail of their expectations), that he was a suffering Messiah, and that God had raised him from the dead. It was the divine plan that the Jews, who had been the chosen people with this revelation, should now continue their mission and bring the whole world to belief in this Messiah. The Jews in those days mainly resisted Paul’s preaching. His second strategy occupied him simultaneously with this: to convert the Gentiles. This involved first of all convincing the latter that there was one God, thus weaning them away from idolatry to accepting this one God, learning the true morality that had been given in the Ten Commandments and in the best pagan philosophers, and accepting the suffering Messiah of Israel as God’s anointed raised from the dead. The result of the universal conversion would be the restoration of the lost unity of mankind (2 Cor 5:18). This was the salvation of the whole world. It was an unsurpassed vision. But could this become a reality? Was this not pure utopia? The Eucharist manifests the reality. 


The Eucharist 

People cannot be united unless they meet. Everywhere Paul went he set up communities. The most illustrative of all seems to have been in Corinth. He devoted a lot of time to it. There was a considerable mix of people involved. He had met them by plying his trade as a leather worker or tent maker, a position that allowed him to work and talk and mix and mingle at the same time. And of course he could always go to the synagogue until he was unwelcome there. He met rich and poor, educated and uneducated, the highly placed in society and slaves. To make a community out of them he needed rich persons with houses big enough to take a largish group where they could sit and eat together, and he needed them to be friendly enough so that the poorer people would not feel left out.


Necessary Mindset 

When Paul was himself present in Corinth he was able to make things work. But when he was absent things began to go badly wrong. And he had to catechise them by writing letters. He would accentuate the example of the suffering Christ, the crucified one, terrible images for anyone, especially for those who only knew it as a death penalty for rebels and traitors and slaves, never for freeborn Roman citizens. It was pure scandal for the Jews and sheer stupidity for the Gentiles. Paul did not water down the doctrine. He now reminds the Corinthians that the very meal they celebrate comes from the Lord Jesus, on the eve of his suffering, a suffering that he undertakes for those who celebrate this meal and believe in him. To ignore this, to be fractious, to be socially divided, to be drunk during its celebration, that is the scandal now. That is folly now. This  assembly, allegedly at the prayer of identity with the Heavenly Master, does not symbolise the restored lost unity of mankind. In the eyes of non believers, some of whom could be present there as guests at the meal it would look like a mere excuse for a self- indulgent party. Paul did not pull his punches. We do not know how successful he was with the Corinthians. They received two long letters from him, and possibly more. For them he recalled the core of his teaching, how he was not Christ only his faithful apostle and servant. These letters illustrated his authority, his pastoral technique, his personality, and gave an insight into his overall way of preaching the gospel in the Roman empire. 


What You Pray You Live 

It was perfectly clear for Paul following Jesus that the Eucharist was at the heart of the communities founded in the name of Christ. The harmonious life created from a mix of people from such various backgrounds showed forth the unity that Christ had died for and that Paul had laboured for. 


Conclusion 

Now we here this Sunday morning come to Mass as we do every week, and some of us every day. It is the one event in our lives in which we identify specifically and consciously with each other, sharing our common faith and a common hope, a common way of life. We share this faith as a community. Thus the Church becomes visible to ourselves and to everyone else. We are not spectators; we are free participants seeing each other in faith as brothers and sisters. We overcome our natural differences and recognize our deepest unity as human beings and as children of the same God. United thus we are The Body of Christ. This is the maximal expression of our act of faith: the Real Presence is the Risen Christ with us and we in him. God is not separated from the world he created. He is still with us through the ordinary become extra-ordinary, food that nurtures us for everlasting life, and love for each other that will never end. Amen.


Rev. Richard J.Taylor

MCI Spiritual Advisor




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