Sunday, June 22, 2003

Corpus Christi

The Eucharist is not a private matter among friends, taking place in a club of like-minded people where congenial spirits meet together. On the contrary, just as the Lord allowed himself to be crucified publicly outside the city walls, stretching out his hands to all, the Eucharist is public worship celebrated by all whom the Lord calls, irrespective of who they are. So it is an essential constituent of the eucharistic celebration, just as it was a feature of the Lord's earthly life, that people of different party groups, different classes and views are brought together in the larger context of his word and his love. It was fundamental to the Eucharist in the Mediterranean world which first saw the growth of Christianity that the aristocrat who had found his way to Christianity should sit down with the Corinthian dock-worker, the miserable slave who, according to Roman law, was not even held to be a human being and was dealt with as chattel. It is of the very nature of the Eucharist that the philosopher should sit beside the illiterate man, the converted prostitute and the converted tax-collector beside the ascetic who has found his way to Jesus Christ. We can still discern, in the documents of the New Testament, how people continually tried to resist this kind of inclusive fellowship and wanted to enclose themselves in their own circle, and we can also see how the Eucharist asserted its meaning all the more, namely, to be a focus of assembly transcending barriers and leading men into a new unity in the Lord.
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. . . There are many kinds of gatherings of people, but so often they are united by what they are against rather than by what they are for. And almost always what brings them together is some interest that seeks to defeat other interests. Today, however, what binds us together is not the private interest of this or that group but the interest which God takes in us. And we can calmly and confidently entrust all our interests to him.
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. . . the One we worship is not some remote power. He himself has knelt before us to wash our feet. That gives our adoration a relaxed quality, an atmosphere of hope and joy, becaues we are bowing before him who has bowed before us; because in bowing we are entering into a love which does not enslave but transforms.

"What Corpus Christi Means to Us"
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
Seek That Which is Above (Ignatius Press, 1986)

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