Today’s Solemnity of the Holy Body and Blood of Jesus reminds us how much more seriously God takes something we take so much for granted: what it means to “take flesh,” to “wear skin.” Sometimes, especially when our bodies fail us, we can’t help wishing them away.
One message we can get from today’s feast is Christ’s nearness. Because he had a body like ours–and he has opted to keep that body, he knows what it means to have the sun on his face, to feel sweat on his skin. Like us, he knows the pleasures we know: to feast on good food and good wine, to accept the touch of a mother, to feel encouragement through a good friend’s tap on the shoulder. He also knows the pains we know: the limits to one’s strength, the waning of energy, tears blurring our vision, and the sting of freshly inflicted wounds.
So whether in pleasure or pain, in health or sickness, Christ is near because you’ve “been there, done that.” And still not content with that, you didn’t depart without leaving behind your body and blood in the Eucharist. Our faith insists that appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, every plain-looking wafer and every cup of that sweet wine raised in consecration at Mass are literally transformed into your very body and blood. What can be more intimate than to be fed your body and blood?
When I think about it, Christianity isn’t a very spiritual religion. As the Jesuit activist/poet, Daniel Berrigan, wrote somewhere about being Christian: “It all comes down to this: Whose flesh are you touching and why? Whose flesh are you recoiling from and why? Whose flesh are you burning and why?” There’s no going around flesh if we’re serious about following Jesus.
Dearest Jesus, thank you for insisting on wearing our skin for all of eternity. Forgive us for taking for granted your physical presence in us and among us. Grant us the eyes to recognize you not only in the Eucharistic host and wine, but also in our own bodies, especially the broken bodies of our brothers and sisters. Amen.