Sunday, June 26, 2011

26 June 2011

Saturday morning was clear.  However, it was cold and the wind was blowing something wicked.  Changing a lens while standing on a sandy beach in the wind is never a good idea.  So I slept in.  This morning it was warmer than yesterday, still and the sky had a few clouds to add interest.  I walked to the beach about 7 AM before the sun came up  (it is winter here folks) and got some shots.   The tripod was obviously necessary as some of them were four second exposures.  Alas, I had a time constraint.  We had First Holy Communion in the parish this morning.  I had to be in the shower by 8:20.  Made it.  

I celebrated the vigil Mass last night.  Homily included.  And, of course, some photos from this morning.  

Feast of The Body and Blood of Christ
26 June 2011
Dt 8:2-3, 14b-16a
Ps 147
1 Cor 10:16-17
Jn 6:51-58

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, or as it was known earlier, Corpus Christi.  In 2007 this feast was on Sunday June 10.  The date is easy to remember because it was the morning of my first Mass the day after ordination in Boston.  I’m a lot calmer now than I was that morning.  I am always happy to celebrate this feast because it means that I have made another cycle through the readings.  

The Church’s calendar is crammed with feasts: The Annunciation, Christmas, Easter, and the Ascension to name a few. These feasts recall specific events in the history of salvation.  They are celebrations that commemorate particular moments in the history of the world.  They supply the rhythm for our lives and the life of our Church.  Each of the feasts has a narrative flow.  There is a story that can be told and retold.  The story of Jesus’ birth.  The Passion narrative.  The account of Pentecost. 

Should we wish we could insert ourselves into the action.  With only a little imagination we would be able to enter the scene in our mind’s eye and see ourselves alongside the manger in Bethlehem.  Or we could stand at the foot of the cross in Jerusalem. 

The feast of the Body and Blood of Christ is different from the other major feasts.  We have to sit back in silence.  There is no narrative.  There is no story.  There is no script.  There is no action. Today’s readings invite us into quiet contemplation of the greatest gift we have ever received:  The gift of Jesus Christ; the gift of the Body and Blood of Christ truly and substantially present in the Eucharist.  It is almost overwhelming to consider that Christ is present in the bread and wine that will shortly be consecrated on this altar, the bread and wine we receive at communion.  It is awe-inspiring to consider that Christ is always present in the tabernacle.

For some Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist is a stumbling block.  They can understand symbol.  They can understand metaphor.  They can even understand allusion.  But they can’t seem to understand the meaning of real.  It’s a pity.  Each of today’s readings adds something to our understanding of the meaning of this feast.

In the first reading from Deuteronomy Moses is forced to remind the Israelites, yet again, what God had done for them as they wandered in the desert.  Once more he has to remind them how God cared for them, how He brought forth water from the rock and fed them with manna, the bread from heaven, manna, the bread that prefigured the Bread of Life who came down from heaven that we might be saved. 

The most significant words of this particular passage are:  “Not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.”   They lead us towards the Gospel.  In his commentary on this passage from John’s Gospel Jesuit Father Stanly Marrow writes:  “there is only one way of proclaiming the salvation in Jesus Christ, and that is by means of the Word.  The sacraments are another mode of proclamation by means of this same word.” 

Recall that John’s Gospel begins with the astonishing words: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”  We need the Living word.  We need the Living Word present in the Eucharist.  We need the living word of scripture, the living word of tradition, the living word of the sacraments, and the living word of prayer.  We need the Living Word as critically as we need bread and other food if we are to live.  We need this Living Word if we are to have eternal life.   Later in his commentary Fr. Marrow points out a crucial fact we can never afford to forget or ignore. “The promise of living forever in no way exempts any of us from dying.”

In the beginning of today’s Gospel Jesus tells the crowds:  “I am the living bread that came down from heaven:  Whoever eats this bread will live forever.”  At the end He reiterates.  “This is the bread that came down from heaven.  Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

Jesus is not promising that our lives will be free of pain or suffering.  Jesus is not promising that we, or those we love, won’t die.  In fact, none of us can attain eternal life unless we first die.  Without dying, not one of us could hope to rise again at the last day.  Eternal life, the promise of resurrection on the last day, is only possible through the Living Word, through Jesus the Son of God. 

We heard at the end of the first reading from Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians, “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.”

“We who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.”  We are one when we gather here to listen to the Word of God and to receive that Living Word in Holy Communion.  We are one when we go forth from here after the final blessing to go about our daily lives.  We remain one after death. 

Today we recall the great gift of The Body and Blood of Christ.  Real. Substantial. 
And transsubstantial.  With that in mind we can only sit back in awe and say with the psalmist and sing: Praise the Lord Jerusalem.  Alleluia.  Amen. 
The first two photos are the parish complex.  The building to the right is the original parish church that is now a meeting hall.  The new church is the modern structure to the left. 

 The bay at sunrise.

The promenade across from the shopping area.
The shops on one of two shopping streets.
An early morning fishing trip. 
A ship pulling into the harbor. 
And finally one of those "I could not resist" that works much better in high contrast black and white than the color original. 
+Fr. Jack

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