Today, Christian believers wrap up a trifecta of feast days. After Pentecost Sunday and Trinity Sunday, today we celebrate the Sunday of the Lord’s Body and Blood. The three high holy days form an inner logic. They hold a trifold message that can be missed by the distracted worshiper.
Pentecost observed the return and glorious descent of the Holy Spirit. Trinity Sunday raised the hearts and minds of Christians to the central mystery of their faith, namely, to the Divine Family of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The move of the two feast days makes sense: after receiving the Holy Spirit, humanity is able and willing to see and know the living God.
What could follow these two Sundays? Are we going to experience a major let down or a liturgical crash of some sort?
Let’s hope not. In fact, nothing other than a solemnity of God’s presence among humanity could possibly prevent such dire disappointment. And so, reflecting Christian realities, believers today adore the Lord Jesus – hailed as God and Man – and his enduring presence among us under the appearance of bread and wine.
Hearkening back to the Upper Room at the end of his earthly life, Corpus Christi commemorates the Lord Jesus’ celebration of the Passover with his followers. As the culmination of his three years with them, Jesus tells his followers that he eagerly anticipated eating the Passover with them.
The anticipation is understandable since in its celebration, the Lord fulfilled the ancient ritual and began his own sacrifice. And by his sacrifice, the Lord Jesus offers a new and eternal covenant of reconciliation and love.
Pope Francis speaks of this covenant: “Christ’s Passover is the definitive victory over death, because he transformed his death in a supreme act of love… In the Eucharist, he wishes to communicate to us this paschal and victorious love.”
The Lord Jesus’ covenant is marked by his sacrifice, sustained by sacred memory, and made perceptible by a blessed meal. This meal, now called the eucharist – or great thanksgiving – by believers, is literally the edible truth of God’s passionate desire to be with us.
Another way of putting it: The Lord enjoys being with us and he seals the deal by his sacrifice and the giving of the Eucharist.
And so, Corpus Christi is the third of the trifecta of recent feasts. Flowing from Pentecost and Trinity Sunday, it’s the perfect solemnity to help us digest the mysteries of God and bring their truth and revelation into our own discipleship and lived faith.
It’s an invitation for each of us to offer our lives, loved ones, sufferings, and joys to God and to seek his blessing and guidance.
Pope Francis describes this reality as he speaks of the Eucharistic Prayer: “No one and nothing is forgotten in the Eucharistic Prayer, but everything is redirected to God, as the concluding doxology recalls. No one is forgotten. And if I have someone — relatives, friends — who are in need or who have passed from this world to the other, I can name them in this moment…”
Corpus Christi, therefore, is the annual reminder of God’s accompaniment with us. It’s a living feast that echoes the heavenly declaration first heard by Saint John the Evangelist: “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”
In being reminded, therefore, of God as our companion during the Corpus Christi festivities, it makes sense that – after this solemnity – believers enter into Ordinary Time in the liturgical year. Knowing of God’s Spirit upon us, seeing him as the Divine Family of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and knowing of his presence among us, it’s only right and just that Christians get to work after these three recent high holy days and zealously labor to share and spread God’s kingdom of grace and mercy.
Rather than living as orphans or sluggards, Christian believers are empowered and directed to “go and teach all nations.” As the beloved children of God, and as men and women who have been ransomed from darkness and chosen to do good, Christians are to tirelessly work to generously bestow upon others the divine presence and peace which they themselves have received from the goodness of God.
And so, these are the consolations and the challenge of Corpus Christi. God is with us. Now, let’s get to work.