Souvenirs, mementos, remembrances, heirlooms, treasures, artifacts, chachkies, knickknacks, memories; tokens of the people, places and memories out of our past which we cling to and carry with us as we move on into the future. Grandma’s handkerchief which she always carried in her purse, granddad’s which still smells of his favorite tobacco, the pressed violets you gave mom for Mother’s Day and she always kept in the family Bible, the note wishing you a good morning from a loved one who has gone home; to others they are just “things” but to you they are the most precious relics in the world. We all have them, some more than others. Personally, I do not like a lot of “stuff” but you would never know it. My home is filled with the bits and pieces of the lives of loved ones who have passed on far to soon. Of course I say I am going to clean out the house and attic and only keep the most important things and I start, but haven’t really made much progress these past few years. It’s difficult; each item brings back memories of good times and laughter, and then comes the tears. Why do we collect these mementos and why are they so hard to part with? After all we always have our memories don’t we?
Memories are how we record our own history and where we keep our loved ones alive. We hold their smiles, laughter, hugs and all the little things close to our heart, letting our mind’s eye relive and cherish them over and over. But, alas, we live in a world created by our senses of touch, smell, sight, sound and even taste; memories are ethereal wisps of images and echoes of sound which blur and fade. Yet, when we hold these most sacred artifacts, our past springs back to life crisp and clear. The faint sweet smell of granddad’s pipe transports us back to sitting on his knee while he told his silly stories. Or the texture of grandma’s kerchief as we hold it against our cheek elicits the click of her purse opening up and the wafting smell of peppermint candies and face powder. Yes, these seemingly simple objects are perform miracles in our hands, they erase the years, veil the present, allowing us to revisit our past and bringing our loved ones back to us as if they had never even left.
On this 2nd Sunday of Pentecost, we commemorate Corpus Christi-the solemnity of the most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. It may seem odd to have a day set aside for that which we celebrate at each and every Eucharist, but it is important to remind us of the gift which we have been given. We call to mind His promises, “I tell you truly that if two of you on the earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven. For where two or three gather together in My name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20) and “be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Jesus is with us always, our constant companion, our guide and protector; we carry Him inside us, in our hearts and minds for He is part of who we are as Christians. Each Sunday we relive these promises in the sacrament of His Body and Blood, we hold Him in our hands, we see Him in the Bread and His blood in the Wine and we taste His presence on our tongues; and then, all too quickly, the reality of His presence fades and the Mass ends. Unlike the saints, and the moments of our past, there are no relics of our Lord to cling to, no concrete evidence of Him once walking among us; He ascended into the sacred realm and, though still with us spiritually, we long for a physical presence. Today, we bring to the forefront the reality of God’s covenant, the promise of the real presence of the Son of Man in the ritual of the Eucharist, the living presence of God in the flowing of our blood and His life giving spirit breathing life into us. Today we do more than just eat the bread of life and drink from the cup of the new covenant, we stop, gaze upon, contemplate, adore and most importantly we remember the good news he brought us and gift we have been given in breaking of His body, the surrender of His blood, the redemption in His sacrifice and the hope in His resurrection: Our Lord is with us here, now and always!