The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)
The readers of these reflections are asked to tolerate my contributions this week as I am currently shepherding 18 students through the streets of Rome. They are a delightful group of students from Whitworth University from Spokane Washington, a school which (quite proudly and unabashedly) identifies itself as Christian within the Presbyterian tradition. Although not all the students are of that faith, the bulk of them are not Roman Catholic and they approach the Eternal City with questions that have provoked lots of conversation and interest in the Catholic faith.
Today is the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. A full procession marked the event here in Rome with Pope Francis offering Mass outside of St. John Lateran followed by a procession to St. Mary Major’s. Although the Vatican celebrates the feast on the Thursday before this Sunday, most dioceses do so on Sunday (today) and our readings speak to the institution of the Eucharist. It was to those readings that I turned to as a source for the Roman Catholic understanding of the Eucharist when questions were asked about the nature of the celebration by the students with whom I am traveling. Although Eucharistic processions are not found in the bible, the reality of the Eucharist is certainly present in the scriptures and it is easy to understand how a contemplation of that reality has created various forms of respect and honor through the centuries. Perhaps we may use this feast of the Body and Blood of our Lord to renew our own familiarity with the scriptures which so clearly identify the presence of the Lord in the Eucharist as well as identify means as to how we can grow in the love and understanding of this special presence.