June 3, 2018
Solemnity of Corpus Christi
EX 24:3-8 PS 116:12-13, 15-16, 17-18 HEB 9:11-15 MK 14:12-16, 22-26
In her book The Habit of Being: The Letters of Flannery O’Connor, O’Connor relates the following story in one of those letters. I’m sure most of you have heard it, but it bears repeating.
“I was once, five or six years ago, taken by some friends to have dinner with Mary McCarthy and her husband, Mr. Broadwater. (She just wrote that book, “A Charmed Life.”) She departed the Church at the age of 15 and is a Big Intellectual. We went at eight and at one, I hadn’t opened my mouth once, there being nothing for me in such company to say. . . . Having me there was like having a dog present who had been trained to say a few words but overcome with inadequacy had forgotten them.
“Well, toward morning the conversation turned on the Eucharist, which I, being the Catholic, was obviously supposed to defend. Mrs. Broadwater said when she was a child and received the host, she thought of it as the Holy Ghost, He being the most portable person of the Trinity; now she thought of it as a symbol and implied that it was a pretty good one. I then said, in a very shaky voice, Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.
“That was all the defense I was capable of but I realize now that this is all I will ever be able to say about it, outside of a story, except that it is the center of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable.”
The Body and Blood of Jesus, present in the Eucharist, is the source and summit of the Catholic faith. To the extent we center our existence on Jesus is the extent to which our lives will be the holiest they can be. To the extent we consider the rest of life to be expendable is the extent to which we will have the fullness of life. Jesus is The Life, and whatever we cling to that is not The Life – that is not Jesus – distances us from Him.
This solemnity reminds us that all that really matters is the Eucharist. It is His promise to us that He would be us until the end of the age. It is sustenance for our spiritual lives. It is how we become more Christ-like. It alone brings us to physical, intimate union with Jesus.
The Eucharist is truly the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, not a symbol. To paraphrase O’Connor, to hell with all that takes us from Jesus.