Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The Body and Blood of the Lord - Year A

Deuteronomy 8:2-3.14-16; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-58

Modern man has a great love - the mind; or more exactly - his own mind.

The mind of modern man is sacred territory on which no other person may set foot and which he defends with powerful sentinels called opinions. Within this territory he dwells secure, luxuriating in the confidence his impenetrable fortifications afford him. Should an enemy approach, a piece of clear logic, a reasoned argument, or merely a wise thought, he can simply direct one of his innumerable sentries to completely disarm the invader with an invincible: But in MY opinion

Insulating the mind in this way from all external threats has several wonderful spin-offs, the most significant of which is that it enables modern man to say: I am always right. An even more satisfying way of putting this is: I am never wrong.

Eventually, when this liberating conviction has totally taken charge of him he is ready for the great discovery: I can do whatever I want. And then finally, though he will never dare to utter the words, at least not within earshot of others, he will find himself silently mouthing, perhaps in the mirror: I am God.

An unfortunate and unavoidable negative about all this is that the actual size of the modern mind shrinks, and although it can vary from person to person, it is often reduced to no more than the size of a drink coaster or even, in some rare cases, a postage stamp. This shrinking is a necessary side effect of reducing reality to manageable proportions by denying those bits and pieces of it which make him uncomfortable. Actually, it's all about control; if you can't control it, it mustn't exist.

The main casualty of all this, apart from the horrible wound he inflicts on his own dignity, is that whole 'continents' of reality are excised from his awareness, and modern man finds himself occupying a tiny territory bordered at all points of the compass - by modern man. He begins, as it were, to live in a sadly impoverished world of his own creation whose horizons have shrunk to what he can understand and control.

All this would be sad enough if it didn't get even worse. The same dreadful process has been taking place in the Church. Many, many Catholics are now living in a sadly impoverished church of their own creation whose horizons have shrunk to what they can understand and control.

Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi; the Body and Blood of the Lord. As I sat down to prepare a homily I was struck by the awful truth that  some of you would not accept a single word I said. During Mass this nags at me, tugs at the edges of my consciousness - that I am celebrating the sacred mysteries for people who don’t believe what they are celebrating. Are you one of them?
We have become so infatuated with the discoveries of science, with unproven theories which pose as fact, with technological and medical advances which distract us from our own vulnerable mortality that we have let go of the divinely revealed truths for which Christ died. We no longer walk the  narrow way of faith in the footsteps of the Lord, but a wide, easy path laid out for us by man - by blind guides!

Betty doesn't believe in angels; John doesn't believe in hell; George won't accept indulgences; Mildred doesn't like the teaching on contraception; Fr Rupert rejects adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; while Fred rejects the Sacrament of Confession. But they all vehemently proclaim themselves to be good Catholics!

To be honest, I don't understand. What I do know is that they all live in a funny little church which is no longer capable of offering salvation. It's just a figment of their imagination. If they did what those who were unable to accept the 'hard saying' of the Lord did and just walked away, at least we would know who it is that we have to evangelise.

Science cannot touch the mystery which today the Catholic Church celebrates; bread which at the consecrating words of the priest, becomes God - the Bread of Life. Bread which becomes God. Can you believe it?

As the Sequence for today's Mass proclaims:

This faith to Christian men is given -
Bread is made flesh by words from heaven:
Into his blood the wine is turned:
What though it baffles nature's powers
Of sense and sight? This faith of ours
Proves more than nature e'er discerned.

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