Today we celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. This Feast points out the centrality of the Eucharist in our lives. Below is a reflection by Patricia Sanchez on this Feast we celebrate today.
More than 40 years ago, my first encounter with Henri Nouwen and his good and holy heart came in the form of his book With Open Hands. In it Nouwen suggested that many of us come before God with clenched fists and, as a result, are unable to receive God’s gifts, one of the most important of which is the sacramental and real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Nouwen also suggested that it is fear that causes us to clench and refuse and, as a consequence, walk away empty. Don’t be afraid of the One who wants to enter that space where you live, urged Nouwen. Dno’t be afraid to let God see your hate, bitterness and disappointment. Even if you have little to show or to share, don’t be afraid to let it be seen. When you dare to let go and relinquish your fears, your hand relaxes and your palm spreads out in a gesture of receiving. Patience is needed, of course, before your hands are completely open and ready to be filled.
This openness must be cultivated daily and requires our acknowledgement that, on our own, we are limited, dependent, weak and vulnerable. But when our hands are filled by God, we become inspired and empowered for service and for witnessing to the goodness and compassionate care of God. Therefore, it is with open hands that we gather this day to celebrate the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Not with fear or doubt, but with humble openness, we allow our hands to be filled and ourselves to be fed with the Bread of Life.
Each time Jesus’ followers gather to be fed by the bread of the word and the bread of his body, each one can be sure of jesus’ presence. He is revealed in the sacred meal that we share. Also revealed is the truth that we who gather are members of the body of Christ. When we approach the altar and respond to the minister who presents the Eucharist and declares, “The body of Christ,” we say, “Amen!” That “Amen” and our open hands to receive the Lord affirm our faith in the eucharistic body of Christ. But, in order to be true, we must also be ready to declare our communion with the body of Christ who sits beside us in the pew; the body of Christ whom we encounter at work, at school, in the marketplace and across the dinner table. Our “Amen!” also announces our willingness to open our hands and hearts to the suffering, needy and defenseless body of Christ whose hungers we are to feed and whose needs are our responsibility. If our “Amen!” does not include our attention to all the members of the body of Christ, then it is a lie and our faith is a sham. May this not be so. Body of Christ, Amen!
Each year we have “Summer Gatherings” where we have a presenter talk about particular topics. This year our “Summer Gathering” will be July 27, 28, and 29. Our topic will be the Mass. Fr. Paul Turner will be our presenter. Fr. Turner is an excellent presenter and will help our understanding and appreciation of the Eucharist to grow. Please mark your calendars. Even if you are not able to attend all three evenings, come to the ones you can.