Scripture Reflection – Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
June 2, 2013
A couple of weeks ago, Pope Francis commented on the redemption of humanity in one of his daily homilies. He stated, “God has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! Even the atheists. Everyone!”
Of course, there would be a little good work to do. Anyone could do good in their lives, he said, and this would satisfy God, because doing good is the principle that unites all of humanity. When I read this in the National Catholic Reporter, I thought to myself, how lovely to have such good news from Rome! Later, when reading through some responses to Pope Francis’ homily in social media, I found it interesting that his words upset a significant number of people, and today, I read that a Vatican spokesman has claims that redemption for all was not so simple as that.
I liked what Pope Francis said better. His words moved me, and made me feel hopeful that we could start changing how we divide ourselves up into various groups of “us” and “them”, and move away from the idea that Roman Catholics have dibs on the only real relationship with God. Could this not have been the message Jesus sent when he insisted the gathered crowd of 5,000 remain and be fed after he talked to them? I was not present at this gathering, but I would imagine that among the 5,000 who had gathered to hear Jesus speak, there must have been a few who did not believe, probably several others involved in unsavory shenanigans, maybe even some who wished harm upon him. Yet, when his disciples wanted to send the crowd on their way, Jesus insisted they be cared for and fed, a striking model of hospitality that we work hard to extend both in our parish communities and to those we encounter in our daily lives.
Those of us who do believe, however, have the privilege of celebrating and receiving the Eucharist each week. Ron Rolheiser writes that “The Eucharist, among other things, calls us to justice, to disregard the distinction between rich and poor, noble and peasant, aristocrat and servant, both around the Eucharist table itself and afterwards outside of the church.”
So we are all one, regardless of the social group distinctions we have created for ourselves. As believers, this is how we approach the Eucharistic table each week. We are one. During the communion procession at mass, we stand together as a unit, shoulder to shoulder, from vastly different backgrounds and experiences that we bring with us when we enter the church doors. Sometimes we concern ourselves with who is worthy of receiving Eucharist, but one of my teachers at St. Paul University would say that we are all on God’s guest list for this banquet, and if you have trouble with the guest list, that is an issue you need to take up with God.
Personally, I have a hard time imagining that the God which created every single one of us would ever abandon any single one of us. Regardless of whether or not one believes, God still is, and remains with us until the end of the ages. On this Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, this is truly good news.