by Father Jamin Scott David
People make extraordinary claims everyday of their lives. The story is told of a woman who accompanied her husband to the doctor for his annual physical. The doctor asked her for a private conversation before they left the office. “Your husband,” the doctor said, “is under great stress and you must devote your life to sheltering him. Don’t argue and disagree with him. Get up early each morning and fix his favorite breakfast. Spend the morning cleaning the house, but have a nice lunch ready at noon if he happens to come home. The afternoon you can spend on outside work, but make sure there is a special dinner waiting for him when he returns. The evening hours may be spent watching a game with him on TV, followed by romance, if he is interested. This must be your schedule to help him through this.” The wife left the office, picked up her husband, and drove him home. “Well,” said the husband anxiously, “what did the doctor say?” The wife replied, “He said that you’re going to die.”
Yes, these preposterous claims are all around us. In a world that’s increasingly conscious of health concerns, there are all you can eat buffets at every corner. There are kids that take cookies from the cookie jar who claim they’re innocent but we have the evidence in the form of crumbs all over the place. We who hear these stories have two choices: we can believe the words or dismiss them as mere folly.
These claims are something that hit home because our faith is the same way: our faith is one that often makes ridiculous claims. Might today’s Gospel be inviting us to examine the truth of our own extraordinary claims of our faith so that we might find ordinary conversion in our lives as we celebrate this Corpus Christi.
Our Second Reading today from Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians shows the extraordinary claim that Jesus made to his disciples. Paul reminds us that at the last supper Jesus departed from the well known ritual. He told them, “this bread is my body; this cup is my blood; eat and drink these in memory of me!” He must have known that such a claim would be an invitation to court death, a claim that took great courage on his part. Those who heard his words had two alternatives. They could believe in the real presence or dismiss him as a blasphemer.
Is our faith life filled with equally extraordinary claims? We might claim that we are truly transformed as Catholics because we eat His body and drink his blood every weekend, and we can accept this claim as true or dismiss it as false.
We might be tempted to rationalize the truth of it all because it seems so preposterous. Our faith is one that claims extraordinary things: refreshing waters cleanse sins; words and contrition absolve our misgivings; oils provide healing balm; bread and wine become body and blood; we change and are redeemed by this Holy Sacrament. Can all that be true? It all sounds so radical!
May we accept the ordinary parts of our faith, as preposterous as they are, as simple foretastes of the glory that awaits us! ~Fr. Jamin