Today we celebrate the final of three feasts that follow the Easter season. Here are a few facts about the Solemnity of Corpus Christi or The Body and Blood of Christ:
- Corpus Christi was instituted in 1264 at the direction of Pope Urban IV
- The initial idea is attributed to St. Juliana of Mont Cornillon who envisioned a celebration of the Eucharist on a less somber day than Holy Thursday (the day the Jesus instituted the Eucharist in the last supper.)
- Corpus Christi centers on the Body of Christ in the Eucharist and the church (remember, we are the body of Christ).
- In the section on Sacraments in the church's catechism, the Eucharist is subtitled: "The source and summit of ecclesial (Christian) life
Today's first reading highlights the connection between the Eucharist and the manna which sustained the Israelites in the desert. You may recognize verse 3 as Jesus' response to Satan during the temptation in the wilderness. In the gospel from John 6, Jesus instructs his disciples on the life-giving nature of His body and blood both in this life and in the next.
I've chosen today's music in hopes that it will touch upon the various elements of this most special day.
Our prelude is a composition by the contemporary Christian artist Twyla Paris titled "How Beautiful." You can find a recording by the artist accompanied by a slideshow if you go to the parish webpage at www.stmarysnutley.org and click on liturgical notes.
The text of the gathering hymn, In This Place (#308) expresses the hungers that we as individuals and a community experience. We come to the table and are sustained by the same God who provided manna to the Israelites as they wandered through the desert.
The sequence which follows the second reading is one of only four songs of praise remaining from the early church. The words were written by St. Thomas Aquinas.
Our offertory song "Vine and Branches" (#360) highlights the relationship between Jesus and God as described in the gospel of John. The liturgical commentator Elaine Rendler suggests this as an appropriate song on this day when we honor out earthly fathers. As I’ve practiced and prayed the words, I’ve thought of Jesus preparing to leave his disciples in the context of what I would want to say to my children if I knew I were leaving them. I am particularly struck by the final verse which is inspired by Jesus’ command to love one another: and now as I have washed your feet, so you must do just as I have done.
As we sing our final hymn “Faith of Our Fathers” (#486) let us not forget the faithful priests who have led the church, particularly our church over these past 140 years.
Wishing you a blessed summer,