Today, our Church celebrates the solemnity of Corpus Christi. Ordinary time did begin after Pentecost, but today we take time to celebrate the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, that was given to us as a most perfect gift.
We just heard the proclamation of the sequence, Lauda Sion. It recounts some of the most important moments in our salvation history and the institution of the Eucharist. Combined with the Scripture readings we just heard, they present an excellent framework for today’s celebration of Corpus Christi.
Saint Paul, whose solemnity we celebrate on June 29, asks a very worthy and important question in today’s letter to the Hebrews. He asks: “how much more?” Indeed, this is an excellent question to apply to the saving acts of Jesus and the work God does in the world.
In the first reading from the book of Exodus, Moses is giving instruction to the people of God. They are also given a foretaste of the Eucharistic liturgy when he prepares the altar and those that are gathered. When we ask the question “how much more” we find many examples. First, the young bulls that were sacrificed would someday be God’s only Son. The pillars represent the 12 nations and, ultimately, the 12 apostles. The blood that was sprinkled would later be poured out. And the sacrifice offered is done not simply once, but also for all.
The Gospel recounts the Last Supper – the very moment when Jesus institutes the Eucharist. At the meal, Jesus used the traditional table prayer that was known by all. But through his actions, the words were given much more, a completely new meaning.
The question Saint Paul asks, how much more, can be understood in more than one way. Yes, it does affirm for us that whatever we know and understand, God is more. But, as the recipients of such a gracious gift, we are also called to examine how much more we can do in the world.
The film Schindler’s List ends with a very dramatic and powerful scene. Oskar Schindler, the protagonist of the film, spends many of his resources and risks his life to safely rescue Jews from persecution and death at the hands of the S.S. and Hitler. At the end of the film, Schindler is surrounded by all of those he has rescued and, rather than rejoice in his accomplishments, he begins to sob and exclaim that he could have done more. He looks at all he has and begins to count off how many people he could have saved. He does what we should all do: ask how much more we can do in the world with what we have been given.
I would like to close by sharing some ideas from the U.S. Bishops. Referring to the Eucharist, they say:
- It is something we experience as a community.
- It awakens us to our own dignity and to that of others.
- It unifies and heals divisions.
- It sensitizes us to those who suffer.
- It moves us and inspires us to respond.
- It allows us to live out our Christian vocation.
- It challenges us to recognize and confront structures of sin.
- It prepares us for mission.
- It propels us forth to transform the world.
God does so much for us. How much, we do not fully know. But we must ask ourselves the same question. How much more are we willing to do?