May 31, 2016
I cannot imagine a more terrifying truth to admit than when one finds oneself having to say, I am broke. More than an empty wallet or bank account, poverty inspires in the one who suddenly experiences it an awful dread that one will never again make ends meet and that either himself or both he and his whole family will be turned out onto the streets.
And if that situation is bad, perhaps there is another just as dreadful and even more painful to endure and that is when one experiences the trauma of a broken heart.
More fragile and vulnerable than any glass is the human heart, too easily damaged, broken and often difficult to repair. Perhaps one has been in an abusive relationship, going through a separation or divorce, or worst of all has lost the love of his or her life because of death, there are some pains in this world it is hoped one will never have to experience and a broken heart would be at the top of that list.
Yet today we celebrate the most solemn feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Who on the night of the Last Supper before distributing the bread, took it, broke it and gave it to His disciples saying: Take this all of you and eat of it, for this is my body which will be given up for you.
I have always found it interesting that when Christ gives us His body to eat, it is bread that is broken, in other words, it is the broken body of Christ that is entrusted to us. And this should remind us of Christ broken, beaten, bruised and bleeding on the Cross at Calvary. And if Christ's body is this way because of how much He loves us, then can we even begin to imagine how broken His heart must have been?
To allow your body to endure that kind of pain and torture both on the Cross and beforehand, reveals a heart enflamed with the passions of love. Bodies have a specific threshold of pain, hearts do not: severe Heart-ache and heart-break often reduce the pain endured in one's body to a tooth-ache.
In today's Gospel, Jesus performs the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish. Prior to feeding the many thousands of people it is reported that Jesus first looked up to Heaven, said the blessing over them and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd or more accurately as Jesus earlier commanded them: Give them some food, this food yourselves.
In looking up to Heaven, a moment that foreshadows the more solemn Last Supper Meal moment when this time, the bread will in fact be the Body and Blood of Christ, Jesus is giving thanks to the Father for what He is about to accomplish.
But in order to accomplish this ultimate sacrifice of His life, He must endure both the bodily and heart pains of being broken, completely broken. For encased in that sacred though beaten up body on the Cross is a heart so crushed from loving so perfectly that Christ Himself will cry out from the deepest depths of Heart-break My God My God why have you abandoned me.
Therefore a Christian's position of strength in this world is not from having a heart immune or impervious or unaffected by pain and sorrow, the complete opposite...we seem to never be more blessed or more in a position to give thanks to God and give to others than when we are broken: And I cannot imagine or more challenging position of growth and stamina for our muscle of faith to be in than that.
What benefits let alone blessings can one possibly draw forth from a broken heart? Again, Christ must be both our guide and role-model, and our absolute source of strength.
In giving to us His body to eat and His blood to drink, the love we then have to give to each other and the world will be so powerful as to help heal the hurts of others and lead them from those despairing moments of My God My God why have you abandoned me to Abba, Daddy, Father into your hands I commend my spirit:
I entrust with the total trust and surrender of an adoring child my whole life especially all its pains and hurts so that like your Son from the Cross I might feed the world the food of redemption and compassion from what I have to or had to suffer.
Some years back a song came out by the pop country group Rascal Flatts entitled God Bless the Broken Road. Like the Gospels, especially the Passion Narrative of Christ's suffering and death, the lyrics imply that it is our heart-breaks that become our greatest occasions of blessings in this world...if only we hold on and not lost faith, hope and the desire to keep loving:
I set out on a narrow way many years ago Hoping I would find true love along the broken road But I got lost a time or two Wiped my brow and kept pushing through I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you Every long lost dream led me to where you are Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars Pointing me on my way into your loving arms This much I know is true That God blessed the broken road That led me straight to you (Yes He did) I think about the years I spent just passing through I'd like to have the time I lost and give it back to you But you just smile and take my hand You've been there you understand It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true. Now I'm just rolling home Into my lover's arms This much I know is true That God blessed the broken road That led me straight to you. That God blessed the broken road That led me straight to you.
God has blessed that broken road called Calvary so along it we might encounter Christ and be entrusted with the courage and hope to make our way there ourselves and beyond to the eternal joys of an everlasting Easter.
Though the lyrics have to do with two lovers meeting down that broken road...they are able to do so because God has blessed their brokenness...for from it, they are not only able to find each other but from this position of being broken give themselves to each other in a more profound and more intimate way having been what they have been through.
And this is why Jesus is able to give thanks prior to His body being broken. Sacraments are signs that point to a greater reality. And when that consecrated host and chalice are elevated when looking up to Heaven, they are a sign that Christ is truly and fully present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity as a sign and demonstration of the greatest love imaginable made wonderfully and miraculously present for our consumption.
The word Eucharist means Thanksgiving. There is then a gratitude within the human nature of Christ as well: Though He certainly has always loved us as God, His human nature and heart like our own had to endure a process of growth and awareness.
Enduring all He did in His human body and feeling all He did with His human heart, Jesus sounded the greatest depths of human love and sacrifice that any human has ever done. And in so doing, He has as once He commanded the Apostles on the night of the Last Supper commands us...love one another as I have loved you.
And we can only do so by receiving the body and blood of Jesus Christ and being one flesh and one heart with Him in Holy Communion we are also like it or not one in solidarity with all suffering humanity as though it were one body, one heart we refer to as the Church or Body of Christ.
A body that in its global poverty is hungry for food, shelter, clothing, healing, education, and a heart and soul that is thirsting for love, kindness, compassion, faith formation and mercy.
This is the directive that we have received: Give them some food yourselves. Jesus is the Bread of Life who has set His body and blood before us at the banquet of each Mass and having set Himself before us in so incredible, sacred and solemn a manner we must then set Him before others and the whole world and feed them with His love...being His love, lest others starve and perish.