Fr Brian Broaders
From ‘Covid babies’ to the centenarians who now have lived through two pandemics; everyone has been touched by the coronavirus! Some of the effects have been more profound than others: so many are still coping with sickness, mourn their loved ones, or troubled by the uncertainty of the future. Many people including Pope Francis, have written their personal reflections on how COVID-19 has affected them or their loved ones. Today we celebrate The Feast of Corpus Christi with its focus on the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. For a lot of people, Christ’s presence was the cause of both comfort and distress during the recent ‘lockdowns’. It was comforting; knowing that Christ was truly with us; but when people couldn’t attend Mass and receive Holy Communion, it added to some people’s distress and isolation!
The fact that so many people turned into Mass on TV, computers and smart phones tells us something of their deep longings to keep in touch with Christ, to keep in contact with His Body. Not being physically present around the altar in our local church, in a sense highlighted for us - that ‘we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life when God will be all in all’ (CCC, 1326).
While there was distress and isolation at not being allowed to assemble, it brought genuine comfort knowing that our participation in the Mass, all be it remotely, was one continuous hymn of praise to God. It doesn't matter how good or bad our voices may be, we form one heavenly chorus when we pray at home or in church. As the hymn ‘Though we are Many’ puts it: “We witness through Christ’s love, his living body active in our world”. What a gift that is !
Pope Francis in his reflections of the pandemic says: “This is a moment to dream big, to rethink our priorities - what we value, what we want, what we seek - and commit to act in our daily life on what we have dreamed of”. During this Covid crisis Pope Francis says we are reminded that we are not self-sufficient, that the essential workers are “the saints next door, who have awoken something important in our hearts. … They remind us that our lives are a gift and we grow by giving ourselves:
not preserving ourselves, but losing ourselves in service”
and that “no one is saved alone”.
Is that not what the real presence of Christ is all about? The reading all point to the importance of making sacrifices, of creating bonds, of Jesus pouring out His blood for us. Jesus has given us a perfect gift, and this gift will never end, He will be with us always.
Maybe in the busyness of life before COVID19, we had taken so much and so many people for granted. How many gifts were left to one side and not appreciated. How many promises or bonds were broken because what seemed a better offer came our way!
How many sacrifices - made with blood - are now forgotten; tears shed and no-one bothers to take any notice!
This is a moment to dream big and to rethink our priorities. In this important moment ask yourself what was the dream/desire of the giver of the gift of Life and the Eucharist? Think of the thoughts behind the tiny trinkets in your parents home; little gifts that simply said: ‘I thought of you while I was away, that I love you’. If we the receiver of the gift of life and the Eucharist forget the dream/desire of the giver then the gift loses its meaning: life becomes cheap, the Eucharist becomes empty bread and the precious trinkets on our parents mantelpiece simply become dust catchers!
What a precious gift this life is. What a treasured gift we have in the Eucharist.