Let us pray: Merciful God, on this day when we recall the story of your self-sacrificing love we remember your presence with us every day and every moment of our lives. Fill us today with hearts that are flooded with gratitude, cloaked in your mercy, and emboldened in courage to face our futures with hope. We lift this prayer in your name, One God forever and ever. Amen
My friends, Our God is with you… And also with you
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John…
Corpus Christi 2020
There is a story that is told of an old Rabbi.
He lived next to a large wooded area, and whenever he wanted God to appear he would go deep into the woods to a special spot, he would build a fire, and say and sing some special prayers and do a special Sacred dance and God would appear.
He had a disciple whom he was teaching how to be a leader of the community. When the Rabbi died, the disciple desperately needed God to appear to help. So he went deep into the woods to the place where the old Rabbi used to go. He built the Sacred Fire and said and sang the Sacred Prayers but he had not yet learned the Sacred Dance, and yet when he finished the singing and prayers, it still worked– God appeared.
When he died, likewise his disciple also wanted to and needed to connect with God, so as his Rabbi would often do, he went to the spot deep in the woods and he lit the Sacred Fire, but he had not learned the Sacred Prayers nor had he learned the Sacred Dance, and yet after the Sacred Fire was
lit, God appeared.
He too had a disciple and after he died, he too wanted to be in God’s presence, so he went to that
special spot in the woods, but the Rabbi had not taught him how to build the Sacred Fire, nor say
the Sacred Prayers or dance the Sacred Dance, but when he showed up at the spot, it still worked,
Finally, that Rabbi died and he also had a disciple, who desperately wanted to be in God’s presence… so he went deep into the woods, searched, and searched for the spot of the Sacred Fire… but he could not find it. He didn’t know how to build the Sacred Fire, he didn’t know how to pray the Sacred Prayers, or do the Sacred Dance. All he knew was how to tell the story, and so he did, he told the story to the trees and the animals and the wind, and it worked! God appeared!
He figured out that whenever he told the story of how the other Rabbi’s had found God, God would appear.
This in essence explains how sacred ritual or Liturgy works. Our Jewish brothers and sisters call it “making zikkaron”…Christians often call it “making memorial”. It is the understanding that the past event can be remembered, ritually recalled, in such a way that it becomes present once again.
There is no model in physics, metaphysics, psychology, or phenomenology that can explain this phenomenon; it is best understood in and through metaphor—or story… whenever certain stories get told God appears.
This time in our lives will carry such powerful meaning and understanding and when we retell them to our children, friends, families, and others, into our history…because when we do, I am convinced God will appear… the words “I can’t breathe” will never be heard the same, and yet they will forever be understood in a profoundly impactful way.
They are the words whispered by one who in their suffering and pain, cried out and God appeared.
It reminds us of the ritual action which every priest does at every liturgy…probably one of the most profound moments in the liturgy, when the presider lifts the bread and breaks it open.
There are no words, we just show up deep in the woods and we break bread…and God appears.
It is the metaphor of self-sacrifice and love, Christ has broken for each of us.
We hear it in our Eucharistic Prayer: The Story—
Blessed are you, Oh Lord our God.
All your works, the height, and the depth,
echo the silent music of your praise.
In the beginning, your Word summoned light:
night withdrew, and creation dawned.
As ages passed unseen,
waters gathered on the face of the earth and life appeared.
In “remembering” that story, we remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us, so that as John’s Gospel reminds us, so “that we might have life and have it most abundantly. “ Jn 10:10
It has been said that St. Augustine, one of the Dr’s of the Early Church, when sharing Eucharist with another would, instead of saying, “The Body of Christ” would often say…”Receive what you are”
That is precisely the meaning of Eucharist…What is supposed to happen is that we, by sacrificing the things that divide us, should become the Body and Blood of Christ. We become the bread of brokenness and the chalice of vulnerability.
My hope and my prayer is that we continue to become the transforming agents of our world, the living bread of God!
+Bishop Marty Shanahan