From “no body” to “some body”

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, 23 June 2019
Genesis 14:18-20 >< )))*> 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 >< )))*> Luke 9:11-17
Darkness descending upon the Sinai mountain range at St. Catherine, Egypt, 07 May 2019. Photo by author.

We all fear darkness.

It is difficult to do things in darkness because our sight is always impaired. We cannot see things clearly, giving rise to many imaginations of evil lurking behind darkness.

Even in the bible, darkness means the presence of evil. And this is why the bible teems with many stories of God coming to his people in darkness. Most especially in the gospels where Jesus comes to comfort and console his disciples and the people in darkness.

But there is more sinister in darkness, a kind of darkness that envelops people and not just the world around us. It is a darkness that refuses to see the other person as a brother and a sister. This we see in our gospel on this Sunday Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

As the day was drawing to a close, the Twelve approached him and said, “Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.” He said to them, “Give them some food yourselves.” They replied, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people.”

Luke 9:12-13

It is a very classic situation we always find ourselves in when more than the darkness around us is the darkness within when we refuse to see the face of everyone as another person who needs to be cared for, who must be fed and kept warm. Most of all, assured as a brother and a sister, being our kin or one of us.

This is the tragedy that happened recently at the Recto Bank where 22 local fishermen were abandoned at sea when a Chinese fishing vessel rammed their boat while safely anchored in the dead of the night.

After several hours at sea, Vietnamese fishermen rescued the 22 Filipinos, gave them water, and fed them with rice and noodles. Despite their language barrier that was another kind of darkness, the Filipino and Vietnamese fishermen understood each other in hand gestures, repeating only three words they knew so well: “Philippines. Vietnam. Friends.”

But the scariest darkness that the 22 local fishermen went through did not happen at sea but at home under glaring lights of camera when government officials downplayed their harrowing experience, dismissing it as an ordinary maritime accident involving “ordinary folks” (i.e., fishermen) and worst of all, after barraging them with so many questions and insinuations sweetened with offers of cash and materials, they eventually succumbed to darkness that they retracted their earlier statements of the incident.

Photo from Yahoo News.

The Recto Bank incident showed us the blinding darkness we are into as a nation. It shows how as the only Christian nation in this part of the world we have been living in too much darkness within us, how we have long forgotten to see the other person as a brother or a sister, that we have stopped caring for one another despite our too many devotions and religiosity.

Like the Twelve, we always wanted to secure our own comfort when darkness comes that we keep on dismissing others away, unmindful of whatever would happen to them along the way. This we do in all sectors of society when we do not care for those next to us if there would still be enough funds or resources or infrastructures after us. This is most evident in our garbage disposal and lack of care for the environment when we think only of our own selves, regardless of the next generation.

And, so, here we are groping in darkness even in the Church when both the clergy and the laity have been blinded by edifice complex, erecting monuments for their own glory forgetting those in the margin. How can some of us in the Church hide in darkness with all kinds of abuses, sexual and financial exploitation of those entrusted to us?

Today in this Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, we are invited to dispel the darkness within us by seeing again that everything we have is from God.

In the first reading we heard the mysterious person Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of the Lord. He had blessed Abraham with bread and wine after he had won over four pagan kings. Unlike most victors in any war, Abraham refused to take all the possessions of the pagan kings he had defeated because it was very clear to him his victory was due to God’s intercession. He claimed nothing to himself and that is he gave a tenth of everything to Melchizedek who then blessed him. It is exactly what we do in every Sunday Mass when we celebrate each week with gratitude to all of God’s blessings we have received. Like Abraham, we share not only our selves but also our treasures to God through our Mass offerings.

This is what St. John Paul II called as the “cosmic character” of the Eucharist.

In his 2003 encyclical “Ecclesia de Eucharistia”, St. John Paul II described this cosmic character of the Eucharist as Christ’s saving presence in the community of the faithful everywhere (cf. Ecclesia de Eucharistia 8-9). This happens when we enter into this mystery of Christ in the Holy Communion of the Mass whereby after receiving his Body and Blood, we become his very presence in the world which St. Paul explained in our second reading today.

With this in mind now, we see the larger context of the instruction of Jesus to the Twelve in the wilderness at that time of darkness to “Give them some food yourselves” (Lk.9:13). During his last supper, Jesus took bread and said “This is my Body…this is my Blood.” You who receive me as your Teacher and Lord, see my Body in every-body. No one is a no-body.

Whenever there is a darkness within every person, there is surely a failure in recognizing this Body and Blood of Jesus. Recall how it was in the darkness of the night when Judas sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver to the priests. It was also in the darkness of the night when he betrayed Jesus.

There was also Simon during the darkness of the night who denied Jesus thrice when he failed to see him as his Lord for fear of being arrested too.

Then there were the two disciples going back to Emmaus on the evening of Easter: they were both in the darkness of despair and loss after the Crucifixion of Jesus whom they did not recognize walking with them at sunset. And when they recognized him at the breaking of bread, despite the darkness around them, they hurriedly back to Jerusalem to inform the Apostles how they have met the Risen Lord!

The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ today reminds us that despite the many darkness in the world today, even right in our very hearts, Jesus comes to dispel them so we can see more the beauty and wonder of life and every person around us.

Is there any darkness in you that needs to be dispelled by Christ’s Body and Blood? Are you ready to offer him that darkness in your heart to become his light in this dark world?

A blessed week to everyone!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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