Homily for the Feast of Corpus Christi
Once for all time, Christ sealed the covenant with his own blood.
He pushed straight into the sacred place – with all of us in tow.
Who could love us more?
This is a poem that was written in commemoration of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. The one line that is especially intriguing is, “He pushed straight into the sacred place – with all of us in tow.” Sacred places are not always nice places. This poem points to the action of Christ where he entered, and brought light, into a dark place, turned it around, and redeemed it. What might that look like? The following story give us an idea:
A man who was entirely careless of spiritual things died and went to hell. He was much missed on earth by his old friends. His business agent went down to the gates of hell to see if there was any chance of bringing him back. But, though he pleaded for the gates to be opened, the iron bars never yielded. His priest went also and argued: “He was not really a bad guy, let him have another chance!” Many other friends of his went also and pleaded with Satan saying: “Let him out, please!” The gates remained stubbornly shut against all their voices. Finally his mother came, she did not beg for his release. Quietly, and with a strange catch in her voice, she said to Satan, “Let me in.” Immediately the great doors swung open upon their hinges.
For love goes down through the gates of hell and there redeems the damned.
Let me tell you about a man named Kevin. Kevin was a local boy who graduated from Devon Prep and the US Coast Guard Academy and later George Mason Law School. He served honorably as a helicopter pilot for several years and later worked as an attorney in West Chester.
Kevin had multiple sclerosis. He knew about it for years. He was aware of this when he asked his girlfriend to marry him. He asked her anyway. She knew the implications of this for him – and her – future life. “For better, for worse, in sickness and in health, ’till death do us part.” She said yes anyway.
A few years back, the illness progressed and Kevin was confined to a wheel chair. He has suffered greatly but still retained his high spirits. Kevin and his wife Carolyn had two incredible boys who are now 14 and 12.
The illness advanced to the point where he needed 24/7 care which he received mostly from family and friends. It eventually reached the point where Kevin needed more advanced – and expensive – care. Friends and his parish chipped in to raise the money.
Kevin passed away on May 24. I was honored to attend his funeral.
“He pushed straight into the sacred place – with all of us in tow. Who could love us more?” That’s what Kevin, his wife, his sons, family and friends did. They pushed into a dark – and sacred – place where there was love, and care, and compassion.
There was also sacrifice. That is what Corpus Christ is also about. Sure, it’s about a shared meal and fellowship. But it is also about the Passion of Jesus Christ. It’s about sacrifice. It’s about Christ mounting a cross, facing death in the face, entering into this very dark – and sacred space – to change it, transform it, exchange it for something better, something good and beautiful. Redemption in real time.
St. Monica is focusing on “Encountering Christ in Liturgy and in Serving Others.” On this Feast of Corpus Christ, that encounter in liturgy and serving others is not a mere academic or theological idea. It looks like Kevin, his wife and sons, his family and his church.
Audio version of the homily is here: