I first heard this story a number of years ago. It was always a little distant in my mind, and because of that I never wanted to tell it. I came across a written version, so now I can recall the following to you:
A church goer, a seemingly reluctant one at that, wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday. "I've gone for 30 years now" he wrote, "and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me. I can't remember a single one of them. So, I think I am wasting my time and the pastors are wasting their time by giving sermons at all." This started a real controversy in the "Letters to the Editor" column, much to the delight of the editor. It went on for weeks, until someone wrote the clincher: "I've have been married for 30 years now..In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I know this…..They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me those meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today."
What a great story. A story that is so, true. We can get so caught up in the results we can see, we lose sight of the fact that, that which is most important, is a reality we CANNOT see. To desire to see the tangible results, is fueled by the ego, the false self. The world we live in wants, results! These results, if they are to be of value, and most importantly, to have a value placed on them, must be seen. On the other hand, the spiritual journey is all about The Unseen, The Unknown, and The Incomprehensible. The scripture reminds us, "that which is seen is transitory, that which is unseen lasts forever." So it is with a world of grace. So it is with the journey we call, spiritual. Because it is, spiritual, it cannot be seen or measured, much to our disappointment. What is happening, is God's business, not ours. All we have to do, to cooperate, is allow it to happen. That is our part to play. You could say we are at our best, when we are, get this, *doing nothing. We are just being who we really are, and our God is working the miracle of His grace, within that reality. The slow process of molding is taking place in each and every moment of the life we live. God uses the life we live to mold the life of His son, Jesus Christ. We become the body of Christ. This becoming is a ever deliberate, slow, painful process. It does, however, allow us to experience a joy and a freedom that is beyond human words to explain or express.
This weekend is we celebrate the feast of The Body of Christ, Corpus Christi.
This is who we are and who we have been called to be, from all of eternity, The Body Of Christ. A body that has to be taken, blessed, broken , and given. As it happened to Him in whose footsteps, we follow, so it will happen to you and I. That is our destiny and our vocation, as Catholic Christians. We are a people to be taken, placed aside, consecrated [baptism], for the express purpose of being the contemporary presence, of Jesus Christ. As He had to be broken and beaten, crucified and killed, to become the Christ, so we too, in order to become Christians, have follow the same self-process. (You and I follow the same pattern.) We will not experience all that it is described in the Scriptures, that description is an allegory for what has happened, and is happening to us. It is, however, a source of hope for you and I.
So then, each time when we receive, The Body of the crucified One, we are strengthened to face the everyday crucifixion which is part and parcel of the human experience we have as spiritual beings. Spiritual beings who have been taken from, sent forth from, The Divine Presence. For what purpose? To be consecrated for the continuation of the One that was crucified and killed. But, for Him and for us, crucifiction is not the end, because He rose to a new life, so it will be for you and I. As we receive The Body of Christ, Eucharist, we are being drawn ever deeper into His risen life as we participate on an ever-deepening journey into His suffering and death. It can be summed up in the following familiar phrase "No Good Friday, no, Easter Sunday.
What is the struggle, or where is the struggle, you and I, can claim as our present day participation in the suffering and death of Jesus Christ?
Where have we come to, the end of our strength? What are the circumstances we are facing which leads us to cry out, "I, cannot move any further, I cannot go on another inch.?” This is the place of our Eucharist. This is the place where we are been broken and have almost given up, notice the word, almost. It is in this place we are now ready to receive the strength and nourishment, that is way beyond us. It is in and through the offering [Eucharist] of what we do not have, that we receive all that we need. It is in the offering, we make room for the grace we need. It is in that deepening surrender we are offering ourselves for the ongoing gradual molding of ourselves into Him, whom we have receive, and are called to be, The Body of Christ.
This is a great mystery, being, and receiving, The Body of Christ. It is only by immersing ourselves into the mystery, again, again, and again, that we allow this miracle to happen. As the husband in the above story was nourished by meals he cannot remember, so we too, have been nourished (and will be nourished) in celebrations that have faded from our memory (and will fade from our memory). Yet, there is that guarantee, that in each Eucharist we receive the necessary light, life and love of God. This light, life and love then be communicated to us in and through the Liturgy we participate in. Just like when we sit at a table to eat a meal, it works when we show up, participate to the extent that we are capable of and the nourishing happens. So it has been and always will be with us and for us as The Body of Christ.