This is why I became a priest.
You may love Christmas; you may prefer Easter; you may even find your center on Good Friday or Ash Wednesday. But this is it for me. The Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord is what gets me out of bed in the morning. It’s not one day, it’s a date – a date I have every day with the God who took flesh and dwelt among us, died on the cross and rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, all so He could arrive on our altar.
It’s almost not fair that this great feast of the liturgical year occurs now, when it is mixed with the other events and obligations of our civic and social calendars. This is the crazy time of the year, and we are all looking for the summer to start so we can goof off.
But the feast does arrive at a logical time, since it is the culmination of the Paschal Mystery that we prepared for throughout Lent, and celebrated through Holy Week, Easter, and Ascension. The Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost (two weeks ago), giving life and power to the Church, and completing of the self-revelation of the Holy Trinity, which we celebrated the following week (last week). The fruit of that Spirit in the Church is the abiding and active presence in the flesh of the Eternal Word, the Divine Son, still doing the will of the Father. So, really, what other time would we celebrate it?
Maybe we do not get the impression that we need to go to extra effort now for this great event because, amazingly, this great even happens three hundred and sixty-four days a year! Minus some of the fanfare, the Body and Blood of the Lord will be here tomorrow, and the next day; and not only here, but at the parish near your office, and the one on your way to the baseball field where you have the playoffs. Your sister in Texas does not have to fly up here for it, because she can find it there. Even your great aunt at Riderwood who doesn’t get around much anymore need not go without.
So this celebration is not about when and where, or, more accurately, not about which when and which where. It revels in the reality that this when, now, and this where, here, comes the Lord to feed us with his very life. When and where we are is when and where the Lord happens.
So again, if that be the case, what is so special about today? Not too much, I guess, since as I shared a few weeks ago the actual feast originally falls on Thursday (last week), but over a hundred years ago the Pope gave American Catholics permission to celebrate it on Sunday. So when we do it must not be as important as that we do it.
That is then precisely what we are doing today; that which the Church does everywhere, not just every day, but especially one day, one day each year. We make the effort and take to time to rejoice together and linger over the beautiful reality that God Himself lingers with us. We have to remind ourselves that this gift we receive, our daily bread, is quotidian but not mundane. It has changed our lives, and changed the world. And for that accomplished fact, which is simple, but not easy, we give thanks. We give thanks every day, and we give thanks specifically today, in and for the Great Thanksgiving that is the Holy Eucharist that feeds us.
The Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord is why you are what you are today, which is alive in Christ and members of His Body on earth. And to make that possible for you here, and now, it is my joy to be your priest.