One Bread, One Body: The Feast of Corpus Christi~The Rt. Rev. Michael Beckett, OPI
Well y’all…. I have a confession to make. You know how I talk about showing love all the time? In a lot of ways I’m preaching to myself. Loving is HARD. I find myself making snarky comments, cracking on folks, getting angry at people who don’t share my views (really they should know better, but still,) and not being as loving as I should. I have to remind myself that there is not ONE person on this planet who God doesn’t love. I need to do better. SO much better.
What has brought this on, you ask? Well, lemme put on my mitre (pointy bishop hat) and I’ll tell ya.
Today is a great Feast Day in the life of the liturgical church throughout Christendom: The Solemnity of Corpus Christi. This day is celebrated in recognition of the Eucharist, and everything the Eucharist is and means. Today we celebrate, literally, the Body of Christ. We all know that the Eucharist was instituted by Christ at the Last Supper. We all know that we, as Catholics, believe that the bread and the wine become the body and blood of Our Lord. We all know that our Protestant brothers and sisters believe that the bread and the wine are symbolic of the body and blood of our Lord. We all know that wars have been fought over these two basic, yet entirely different, beliefs. We also know that from many, if not most, of the liturgical pulpits in the world, the Word will be proclaimed concerning the Eucharist. Today, however, I would like to put a different spin on Corpus Christi. I would like for us to leave the upper room of Christ and the disciples, and jump ahead a few years to Corinth, and to listen to what the Apostle Paul has to say about “the body of Christ.”
12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into[c] one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.
We, the Church, we, the people of God, we, puny imperfect people that we are, WE are the body of Christ. Some of us dress funny. Some of us talk funny. Some of us have emotional issues. Some of us just have issues. But we, ALL of us, together, make up the body of Christ. Warts and all. Some of us are wildly and multiply talented. Some of us are incredibly intelligent. Some of us have been blessed with physical beauty. Some of us have been blessed with spiritual beauty. Be we, ALL of us together, make up the body of Christ.
Because we are all of us different, it can be said that we make up different parts of the body of Christ. We each of us have different gifts. Some make up the head, some the heart. Others are the feet and the hands of the body of Christ. Granted there are parts of the body of Christ that we would rather keep hidden, under wraps. But are these parts any less important? Do these parts not serve a major and important function in the working of the body? I believe that they do.
My point, here, folks, if I haven’t made it already is simply this: WE, all of us, make up the body of Christ. What one person brings to the table may not be of particular interest or value to another person, but there is someone at that table who needs just that. Perhaps we feel that this person or that person isn’t quite what we would like to see in our church, or in our family, or in our lives, but to someone, somewhere, that person is exactly who is needed. The very person whom we consider to be “less than worthy” to represent Christ and His church may just be the exact one who is needed in certain situations.
There has been much made of certain politicians being excluded from receiving communion because of their political beliefs. Who are we, as clergy, to deny anyone the Body of Christ? I would ask these folks, ‘Did Jesus not sit down and break bread with Judas?’ Who are we to judge wo is worthy, if we, all of us, are a part of the body of Christ? It’s a puzzle to which I certainly do not have the answer. I do, however, think that the artist, John Michael Talbot, sums it up nicely:
One bread, one body, one Lord of all, one cup of blessing which we bless.
And we, though many, throughout the earth, we are one body in this one Lord.
Gentile or Jew, woman or man, no more. Many the gifts, many the works, one in the Lord of all.
Grain for the fields, scattered and grown, gathered to one, for all.
One bread, one body, one Lord of all, one cup of blessing which we bless. And we, though many, throughout the earth, we are one body in this one Lord.
As we go along in our daily lives, let us remember the lessons of today, this Feast of Corpus Christi, that we all of us make up the One Bread, the One Body, the One Cup, that is the Body of Christ. Amen.
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