Fr Andrew's thought for Corpus Christi
Thought for the week Trinity 1 / Corpus Christi.
A famous quote to begin with:
From the great liturgist, Dom Gregory Dix, an Anglican monk of Nashdom Abbey. From his ‘Shape of the Liturgy, published in 1945
Was ever another command so obeyed? For century after century, spreading slowly to every continent and country and among every race on earth, this action has been done, in every conceivable human circumstance, for every conceivable human need from infancy and before it to extreme old age and after it, from the pinnacle of earthly greatness to the refuge of fugitives in the caves and dens of the earth. Men have found no better thing than this to do for kings at their crowning and for criminals going to the scaffold; for armies in triumph or for a bride and bridegroom in a little country church; for the proclamation of a dogma or for a good crop of wheat; for the wisdom of the Parliament of a mighty nation or for a sick old woman afraid to die; for a schoolboy sitting an examination or for Columbus setting out to discover America; for the famine of whole provinces or for the soul of a dead lover; in thankfulness because my father did not die of pneumonia; for a village headman much tempted to return to fetich because the yams had failed; because the Turk was at the gates of Vienna; for the repentance of Margaret; for the settlement of a strike; for a son for a barren woman; for Captain so-and-so wounded and prisoner of war; while the lions roared in the nearby amphitheatre; on the beach at Dunkirk; while the hiss of scythes in the thick June grass came faintly through the windows of the church; tremulously, by an old monk on the fiftieth anniversary of his vows; furtively, by an exiled bishop who had hewn timber all day in a prison camp near Murmansk; gorgeously, for the canonisation of S. Joan of Arc—one could fill many pages with the reasons why men have done this, and not tell a hundredth part of them. And best of all, week by week and month by month, on a hundred thousand successive Sundays, faithfully, unfailingly, across all the parishes of Christendom, the pastors have done this just to make the plebs sancta Dei—the holy common people of God.
I make no apology for repeating these words over and over again: they move me profoundly each time I read them, as I am reminded of the humbling task to which God calls me and you at his altar.
Today across our two masses we have two different sets of readings. In the first set, used at 9.00 (Mark 3 20-35) we hear in the Gospel the telling phrase from the lips of Jesus:
“Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.’ And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’”
This almost sounds like a rebuke from Jesus to his mother. But it isn’t. Jesus is telling us that for his followers, the kinship of those who do the will of God is greater than any other form of kinship - Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.
Indeed, Jesus tells us clearly, referring to what we now call the Mass, ‘Do this in remembrance of Me.’ This is from our second reading for Corpus Christi (1 Cor. 11. 23-26) Jesus does not tell us to have a ‘Praise service’, or ‘messy church’. There is nothing wrong with those things even if we don’t like them much ourselves – they have their place. But they do not form us into the Family of Christ. We are told to Baptise and to celebrate the Mass. Through those actions we bring people to be the family of Christ, in those actions we become the brothers, sisters and mothers of the Holy Family which is The Church. Look around you – and see your family in Christ.