Sunday, June 10, 2012

Five Years and Counting

Yesterday was five years since I was ordained.  Oddly enough, given the vagaries of the liturgical and secular calendars, 10 June 2007 was also the Feast of Corpus Christi.  Sleep was a lot easier last night than it was five years ago.   I admit to recycling parts of the homily but as the readings are different it is not identical to the one I gave at that first Mass (or last year in Australia).  

Corpus Christi
10 June 2012

Ex 24:3-8
Ps 116
Heb 9:11-15
Mk 14:12-16.22-26

Jesuits are described as contemplatives in action.  Unlike our Trappist brothers who live in monastic cloister and silence contemplating the word of God, we move around a lot.  Were you to have asked my mom how many phone numbers and addresses I had in my early years in the Society she would have laughed.  In the beginning she carefully erased the old one before putting the new one in her address book.  Then she simply scribbled it--in pencil--on an old sticky note figuring that she wouldn't need it for long before another move.

Jerome Nadal noted that the Jesuit’s cloister is the highway.  Our work, oftentimes very mobile work, drives our prayer life and our prayer life, oftentimes entered into while on the move, drives our work.  Overall, action seems to trump contemplation much of the time. 

It is a feast such as this, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, or the Feast of Corpus Christi, that reminds us of the contemplative side of our lives.  This feast pulls us into the contemplative because it doesn’t recall an event. 

Our liturgical calendar is crammed with feasts that recall specific events in the history of salvation. 

The Ascension.
The Annunciation.

These feasts recall specific moments in the history of the world.  We can close our eyes and, with only a little imagination, see the events unfold on an internal movie screen.  They are events with a narrative flow.  There is a story that can be told and retold.  We can, and indeed Ignatian prayer demands, that we place ourselves in the action, that we participate in that history and allow that history to form us.  On Corpus Christi, however, we have to sit back.  In silence.  There is no script.  There is no “story line.”  We are forced to be less active, at least for a bit, and more contemplative. 

What do we contemplate? 

We contemplate the gift of Christ truly and substantially present in the Eucharist.  It is overwhelming to consider that Christ is present in the bread and wine that we receive and in the Eucharist that we adore on the altar. 

For some Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist is a stumbling block.  They can understand symbol. They can understand simile. They can understand metaphor.  They can even understand allusion. But they can’t seem to understand the meaning of real.  It’s a pity. 

We heard in the first reading how the blood of animals was used to ratify the covenant God forged with Moses.  Blood is the ultimate seal on a promise.  How many of us sealed some kind of childhood or adolescent pact with our own blood? 

We hear in the second reading, "He entered once for all into the sanctuary . . . with HIs own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption." 

In the first reading we heard how the people vowed, as Moses sprinkled them with the blood of covenant,  "All that the Lord has said we will heed and do."  Of course we know that things didn't quite work out that way.  Thus Jesus is mediator of the new covenant to deliver us from the transgressions under the first covenant.

Commenting on today's gospel would be an absurd attempt to gild the lily.  We will hear "This is my body . . . This is my blood . . ."  in the words of institution during the consecration.  Listen carefully.

Today we recall the great gift of the Body and Blood of Christ.  Real.  Substantial.  And transubstantial.  With that in mind we can only sit back in stunned silence and gratitude and say with the psalmist:

"I am your servant you have loosed my bonds."
The photos today have neither rhyme nor reason. 
Angles, lines and shadows are fascinating in black and white.  This was somewhere in Australia. 

 A guy running on the beach at Gerroa, NSW Australia.

 A Catholic cemetery in central Taiwan.
How many Jesuits can fit on a surfboard?  Tertian classmates in Gerroa. 
The Pond at Campion Center as per Monet and Aperture 3.
The following five shots are all the same thing, the beach at Gerroa in the evening.  The first is the original while the following four represent what is possible with Aperture 3.  Am going to print the four of these and put them in a quad frame.   The magenta one reminds me of one of the great album covers (remember those?) of all time.  It featured a giraffe on a plain with red and magenta filters over the lens.  The album was (is) Antonio Carlos Jobim "Wave" one of the great jazz albums ever. 

+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

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