John 6: 51-58 (Corpus Christi)
To be human is to live with hunger. While it may not be gnawing at you right now, give it a little time. Miss a few meals. Soon it will become the focus of every thought and action. Miss a few more meals and it will become real easy to forget that appetites are a gift from God. They enable our survival as individuals and as a species. They are reflections of “the great hunger”… our fear of mortality, our yearning for life’s meaning, our longing to fill the vast hole in our souls.
More persistent than every other appetite, the great hunger cries out for nourishment. And like binging on junk food, many otherwise intelligent people jam all sorts of junk into their souls to try to fill the hole. From materialism to mysticism, from ambition to astrology, they are all on the menu every day… looking tasty but ultimately without nourishment. Feeding the great hunger takes more than a diet of pleasure, an accumulation of stuff or even a wispy collection of well-meaning maxims.
The great good news of this week’s gospel is that Jesus invites us to come to the table. God’s bounty is laid out for us 24/7. He wants us to feast on faith… to find meaning in life, to transcend mortality and find eternal happiness with him. In this gospel we are invited to do much more than encounter Christ. We are called to complete communion with the living God. We are called to: Eat my flesh and drink my blood. This side of heaven, you can’t get closer than that.
In faith if we truly share the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation, how could we ever go away hungry? We are literally one with Christ and one with millions of Christians who come to his altar this Sunday. There is one bread and we are all one body. We share one cup. We are Corpus Christi… the Body of Christ… nourished by him, living in him and he in us. We have purpose and direction… his purpose, his direction.
God does not force feed us his grace. It is always a transaction. He gives. We must receive. Sleep walking through ritual makes a mockery of God’s great gift. In Corpus Christi, Christ gives himself entirely to us; we must give ourselves entirely to him. Without that commitment there is no communion. There are words. There is music. There is liturgy. But in us there is no Corpus Christi. The great hunger goes on.
And what a waste that would be… a waste of life, a waste of joy, a waste of grace. Don’t waste this opportunity. Christ offers to fill the hole in your soul with the same nourishment that fortified the apostles and emboldened the martyrs. Embrace God’s grace. Lay yourself open to receive Corpus Christi. Bring your hunger to the table. Name your fears and your failings. Come as a child to a loving parent. You won’t go away hungry.