What Does Corpus Christi Have to Do with Me?

This Sunday we together under the roofs of our beloved churches, and engage in acts of religion which are distinctively Christian and Catholic—our annual solemn celebration of the great gift of the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.

MonstranceThanks to heavenly grace, we believe that Jesus is God, the only-begotten divine Son of the heavenly Father, incarnate by the Holy Spirit. We recognize that our faith in the Blessed Sacrament proceeds from our faith in Christ Himself—it proceeds simply and straightforwardly, not as something crazy or strange. God says, This is My Body, This is My Blood. We believe. Our faith in the Blessed Sacrament involves nothing obscure or shadowy, nothing foreign to a reasonable and realistic mind. It’s just simple Christianity, springing from the original source.

So: On Corpus Christi, we rejoice and exult! God shows His mercy, His graciousness to us, by giving us Himself in the Blessed Sacrament. And our acts of religion, which we make together in unison, draw us together as a family. The Body of Christ on the altar nourishes the mystical Body of Christ—Whose members talk to each other over coffee or a piece of cake, or play soccer or basketball together, or send each other facebook messages, or a million other things that we do that express our family love for each other.

Considering all this joy and wonder involved in participating in a Corpus-Christi Mass, and in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament—wonderful as it is to be a part of this, we might wonder: Why doesn’t everyone in the county attend?

Maybe you remember how a couple years ago we considered how two different groups of people regard our Catholic Corpus Christi observance as something crazy.

Some of the people who don’t come maybe simply don’t believe that Jesus is God. If so, all we can say is, Too bad, too bad. But we understand then why you’re not here. If you don’t believe that Jesus is God, we could see why you wouldn’t come to Corpus Christi Mass. Too bad. But we understand.

And some of the people who don’t come might say, Yes, we believe that Jesus is God, but the Catholic way of worshiping Him seems foreign. “Ok. Fine,” we say to this. “We understand. Wish you would let us show you just how un-foreign our religion really is, for anyone who believes in Jesus. But we understand where you’re coming from.”

Philpott cemeteryThere may, however, be yet another reason for someone not attending Corpus-Christi Mass. I think, for our sake, we need to meditate on an answer.

This other reason for not celebrating with the Church could seem really strange to us, because it involves neither an affirmation nor a denial of what we believe about Jesus Christ. And it involves neither an approval nor a disapproval of how we celebrate our faith.

We tend to take for granted that people naturally consider religious truths. We take for granted that an honest person considers the reality of God, and tries to conform him- or herself to what he or she holds as true about Him. But, actually, not everyone does that.

So: What if someone said, “I have nothing to do with church because I have no idea what Jesus, or the ‘Blessed Sacrament,’ has to do with me. What does your religion have to do with me? What does Jesus of Nazareth have to do with me?”

Now, such a question might leave us speechless for a moment. I daresay that we don’t really dwell on what our religion has to do with us. What matters is what it has to do with God. That’s the decisive aspect of it.

After all, just speaking for myself, I find myself rather boring. I hardly want to dwell on myself. Boring. So I constantly keep an eye out for means by which I can forget about myself altogether and focus on something else.

FOA Corpus Christi processionBut some of the people who don’t see the inside of a church on Corpus Christi, or any Sunday, for that matter, could ask such a question of us honestly. “I have no problem with you worshiping like you worship. But what does it have to do with me?”

We need a good answer. Un-churched America needs us to have a good answer. A generation of our neighbors who have never had a chance to know Christ and His gifts—they need us to have a solid, compelling answer.

Just thinking out loud, the first thing that leaps to my mind is: Brother, sister, what Jesus and the Catholic religion have to do with you is this. We are all going to die. Our lives on earth last for a relatively short period of time. And we can hardly find the meaning of it all, without seeking the Word of God.

Our Catholic religion has something to do with you, friend—I might say—because we all share in this common desperate need for God. Without Him, ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust,’ pretty much sums up our existence. Hopeless is no way to live.

That’s just me–as far as an answer. When in doubt, I tend to imagine myself as a skull and bones in a grave, and then take things from there.

Other good answers might touch on: The opportunity that our religion gives us to live for love, divine love. Or: Our practice of the faith liberates us from the smallness of a life lived with only myself as a point of reference.

Let’s meditate on this. This is homework for everyone. We need to know how to answer this question. “Hey, Catholic! What does your religion have to do with me? What does Jesus have to do with me? What does your ‘Blessed Sacrament’ have to do with me?” Let’s imagine being asked, and meditate on an answer.

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