Homily – Feast of Corpus Christi – 11th June 2023
Today we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi, the body of Christ. And traditionally the focal point of this feast is two pronged. First, of course, a reaffirmation of our belief in the reality of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, physically, bodily. But also, a time for reaffirming our belief in the fact that we are that body as well. The Church, the people of God, bound together by a divine call. So really this feast is an appropriate setting in which to reflect on the quality of love, the life force of the Body of Christ, at its most radical, its most Christian.
And that is Christ’s insistence that if we are to be truly his followers, we must love our enemies.
Just what is an enemy, really? There is a way, I think, to come to an appreciation of something at least of the impact of Christ’s teaching to love one’s enemies. Think of someone whom you know doesn’t like you. Make it a real person, maybe more than one. Someone whom you know. Thinks you are a real pain, and who doesn’t hesitate in the least to say so any chance that comes along. Someone who perhaps has done you some real damage and is fairly likely to do so again in the future.
And then try to become aware of the sort of feelings that that image confines up for you. Anger, perhaps resentment, inferiority, jealousy, fear, the painfully corrosive suspicion that just maybe that person is, after all, right.
And when your awareness of those feelings is clear, then just put them aside. Resolve not to use those feelings, not to let them dictate the way you act toward the person you are picturing.
And once we have done that, I think we have come about as close as we ever will to a definition of what God means by ‘Love’. Our willingness to act in the best interest of someone whom we know perfectly well would not be willing to do so for us.
So, this feast of the Body of Christ calls us to some radical reflection indeed. From now on the extent to which we damage our relationship with any other human being, to that extent we damage our relationship with God as well.
That truth, and our acceptance of it in faith, is the core of Christian morality. And so, it is hardly surprising that it is also the core of Christian worship. Every week, every day, the Church celebrates the mystery of our intimacy with God. It is because of the Eucharist that Christian morality is what it is. In Christ’s words, given in two different places in the scriptures, when he speaks of people and says “Love one another as I have loved you.” Later, he speaks of the Eucharist and says, “Do with one another what I have done with you.” These are not different commands. They call from us a faith in the same truth.