I made a decision this week that I’d like to share with you.
First some background. For a long time I have been feeling very defensive. I don’t feel defensive with you, but always, it seems, someone else has something negative or nasty to say about the church, or about priests, or about our doctrines, or our stances on this or that.
I’m really tired of it. I’m tired of feeling put on the spot and made to feel like I, and we Catholics, are always being attacked.
A year and a half ago I had my close brush with death and in the months since then, I have been evaluating what really is important and what is not. Being defensive is not only in the category of “not important,” it is in fact very harmful to one’s spiritual health.
Therefore, I decided that I will not be defensive any more. Instead, I decided that I want to spend my energy on showing the beauty of what our Catholic vision of reality is like. If other people don’t like it, then, fine; they should go and find a vision that works for them. My energy will be devoted to teaching and preaching the beauty of what we believe.
Today’s celebration of Corpus Christi is an exquisite weekend to start this new chapter of my life. You see, we Catholics have a vastly different view of reality than most other people. Our worldview is jam-packed with God. God is no distant creator who started things off and left us to our own devices. No, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Moses and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is actively engaged with us whether we are journeying through the desert, worshiping at Mt. Sinai, or at the Second Temple in Jerusalem, or at the First Mass in the Upper Room, or gathered here at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Boulder, Colorado.
Our view of reality is that God became a human being for us, died for us on the cross and remains with us, especially in the Eucharist. This God, whom we would be willing to die for, is concerned about every little element of our own particular lives and also about the wellbeing of all of humanity.
This God who became the Bread of Life for us to eat, and the Blood of salvation for us to drink, is no stranger to the condition of our lives. And by our weekly celebration of the Eucharist, we too join with Christ in “the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted. These are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.”* By frequent Holy Communion we grow into ever greater solidarity with other human beings. “Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in our hearts.”* This is how He sustains us on our journey through life, always by our side, always willing to forgive those who turn to Him in our need, always calling us to share in the lot of those who suffer.
The beauty of Corpus Christi is that the Eucharist is the promise and foretaste of what is to come. While the world languishes and dances with despair, we abide in hope. While the world values only what is seen, we take on great meaning from what is unseen. While modern people are alienated from the self and from other people, we set our hearts on community. While the world is locked in an isolation imposed by an excessive individualism devoid of God, we crave communion, with each other and with God. Indeed we call this “Holy Communion.”
The beauty of our Catholic faith is that the very human instinct to recognize the sacred has not been extinguished in our hearts. We know that our lives are crammed with heaven. We know that our Eucharistic Companion in life’s journey not only nourishes us, but always prepares us to become saints, to be ready for heaven when this life’s journey is concluded. And so, we hunger for the Body and Blood of Christ for we have come to know God in the flesh. This is the beauty of our Catholic faith.
* Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, I, 1
[Picture: Pope Benedict XVI in Corpus Christi Procession in Rome, 6/7/2012]