Gospel Jn 13: 1-15 You should wash each other’s feet
This is my Body. This is my blood. The Eucharist means many things to all kinds of Christians. Some Catholics feel bad if they don’t go to daily mass. Most don’t go to Mass but feel good that it is being celebrated somewhere in the world at every moment. In Catholic imagination it is the ‘sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross’, eternally offered for the salvation of the world. Among Evangelicals or Reform churches the Eucharist is rarely or never celebrated, and seen as a remembrance not a sacrifice. Luther thought the ‘Popish Mass’ was a ‘work of the devil’. One can see his anger at the way the Roman church had twisted the mass into a money-making and magical commodity, but even so perhaps he was overstating it.
Let’s not get into polemics about this moment of transcendent wonder in the Christian story, repeated in a ritual revealing a oneness beyond words. The sad thing is that for so many the sacredness of the Eucharist, evolved from the Passover meal, that Jesus celebrated on his last night, is a meaningless void, a waste of time. My experience is that meditation, contemplative practice, once again fills this blankness with a fullness of meaning, the energy of mystery. The sacraments as a whole serve as milestones in life’s journey and are re-enchanted as we begin the inner journey. Not magic, but a sense of direct connection to the human condition, starting with the body that we are today and consummating in the transfigured body. What happens is the awe of discovering our whole self as a microcosm of the whole universe. This led the psalmist to sing once of how ‘fearfully and wonderfully we are made’.
Great healers are like astronauts exploring the interior cosmos and discovering and naming its infinitely integrated systems found within more and more subtle webs of connection. The first philosophers thought of the cosmos as music. The body, the microcosm is more like this music than the mechanical device to which medical science tends to reduce it. Music is the food of love. This is my body with its oceans and rivers of blood. My flesh is real food, my blood real drink, Jesus said.
Great truths evoke their opposites and great lights cause dark shadows. The sacred language of Christianity is the body. The Word became flesh. Jesus did not give us a theory. He gave us his body. How then did Christians manage to turn the body into something sinful and its wonderful galactic systems, like beauty and sexuality, into something sinister? But let’s not look back too long.
Maybe you can join us online at Bonnevaux for the Eucharist today. If so, bring along your own bread and wine. But try to celebrate it somehow at the beginning of the end of Lent. All you need is some bread and wine. As you ingest them let your body become what his is now. It is an amazing food for the journey of discovery we are on when we meditate.