Bishop Glen John Provost
Bishop of Lake Charles
Feast of Corpus Christi
Thursday, June 15, 2017
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Lake Charles, Louisiana
“This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words of his.” Exodus 24:8
Blessed John Henry Newman once wrote of Christ in the Eucharist: “He is not past. He is present now.” The First Mass of Blessed John Henry, after becoming a Roman Catholic, was on the Feast of Corpus Christi 1847. For him this great Solemnity was a special moment of present and presence. He would say of Corpus Christi, “There is no feast… which… shows more wonderfully what Christianity is.” For Corpus Christi speaks to us of Christ’s presence in the present. He is now. He is there. He is here.
We are speaking here of the timelessness of faith. We call it a Sacrament. A Sacrament is where the timeless meets us in time, where God touches us now. The Eucharist is one of those timeless moments, where we encounter our Lord without a watch or clock. The noisy ticking of the outside world is silenced. The pendulum stops. The winding key is hidden, the mechanism unplugged, the batteries removed.
In Sacramental timelessness, the origin of the reality is God. God is, in fact, the Reality. God is the God of the living. As our Lord teaches, “He is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to Him all are alive” (Luke 20:38). The Eucharist is where we encounter the living God in His Son, Jesus Christ.
We are invited to this timeless mystery now. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup,” writes St. Paul, “you proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes” (I Corinthians 11:26). Through our participation in the Eucharist we come to share the eternal redemption Christ intended for us. This participation is a reality, not a casual memorial or a merely symbolic meal. If it were merely symbolic, then it would not communicate the reality. No one invites us to a meal to read a cookbook. The host invites us to partake of the food, and in this case it is the food of eternal life.
At a less felicitous time, which regrettably repeats itself even in our own day, some writers refer to the Eucharistic Presence in our tabernacles as a “static presence.” There is no such thing. Our friend remains our friend even if he is in another room or in another country. The abiding Presence of our Lord in the Eucharistic mystery is our constant source of strength because the mystery is now. St. John Vianney spoke of the tabernacle as our garde-manger. There is no “static presence” in a garde-manger. The garde-manger houses the food that will feed the family. “This cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (I Corinthians 10:16). As St. Paul spoke of a reality now for the Corinthians, he speaks of that same reality now for us.
“He is not past. He is present now.” For His flesh is true food, and His blood is true drink (John 6:55). He is our redemptive, abiding presence. He heals and binds up, for the food He gives us is His flesh for the life of the world (John 6:51). He is the foretaste of the heavenly banquet, and the fulfillment of every prophecy of sustenance in the Sacred Scriptures. “There is no feast… which… shows more wonderfully what Christianity is,” because Corpus Christi bears His name and ours redeemed by His Body and Blood. Christ does not die again. He dies once for all, and the Eucharist in that moment in which we relive His death and glorious Resurrection. Corpus Christi is for us who are now.
Bishop Glen John Provost