Reflection on the Readings
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
June 14, 2009 - Year B
By Dennis Hankins
For the Readings
Theme: The Table of the Lord
What we have in common is greater than what separates us.
I remember many years ago imagining what it would be like for all of us to sit down at the same Table. It's then I understood: The key to unity in the Body of Christ is in there being one Table.
On a family level, the pain of fractured relationships is experienced at the family table. A brother and sister say things to each other they regret. At the next family dinner, one or the other stays away. Before you know it, it gets easier to not care, not celebrate, not commune. There's only one family, one table, but now there's an empty place at the table. The pain is felt by those still at the table. Forgiveness is not offered or sought. Until there is forgiveness there is only the pain of being incomplete, unattached, like a joint out of place.
There is much pain in the Body of Christ, because there is too little forgiveness, sought for or given. Historical grudges strewn across the centuries coupled with ignorance, misunderstanding and assumptions, and before you know it, it gets easier to not care, not celebrate, not commune.
If today's Solemnity means anything, it means we cannot fail to embrace the unity of the faith and pray that we who partake of the one bread will one day witness the healing of the one Body of Christ. There is one Table, one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, as there is one God and Father of us all.
We confess there is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. In this there is joy as well as sorrow. For me, my joy was finding that in the Church is the Faith that has always been and will always be. What I left was the idea that it was OK to split and divide ad nauseum. The fractures and brokenness of denominationalism fills me with sorrow. It is a world filled with empty signs and symbols, a belief that the bread and wine do not and cannot mediate what they signify. In other words, Jesus declaring the bread is his body and the wine is his blood really isn't.
We all read the same New Testament. In 1 Corinthians chapter 10, St. Paul states that pagans offer their sacrifices to demons. Instructing the Church at Corinth, Paul explains the pagans become partners with the demons in their sacrificial offering to them. He calls their worship the table of demons.
To all of my brothers and sisters who believe Holy Communion to be only symbolic I pose a question. How is it that in the same letter Paul describes the cup and bread which we bless as a participation in the body and blood of Christ? Then he concludes, "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons." Demons are real and the sacrifices to them enable their worshippers to be partners with the demons. The bread and wine which we bless brings to us the body and blood of Jesus.
In the Mass, we enter into the Communion of Love. If our eyes could be fully opened during Holy Communion, we would see a great Abyss of Love; the Love that is mutually shared by the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. In the sacrifice of the Mass we enter into this Holy Abyss of Love.
Come home. If you are at odds with your family, don't sulk and fume. Get home. Get back together and enter again into the love of family around the family table. Be forgiving and ask for forgiveness.
Let me take this up a notch and ask my brothers and sisters in Christ to come home. Let's be separated no more. What we have in common is greater than what separates us. Forgive me in whatever way I have offended you and kept you from seeking fellowship with me at the Table of the Lord.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, make us one family, one faith, one in love through the body and blood of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.