Sunday, June 22, 2014

Corpus Christi Procession: Do Not Forget the Lord, Your God

"Do not forget the Lord, your God."  These are the words spoken by Moses to the Hebrew people in the Book of Deuteronomy today, on the Solemnity of Corpus Christ.  "Do not forget the Lord, your God."  It seems as though it should be entirely impossible to forget God.  I mean how do you forget GOD?  Forget an appointment?  Sure.  Forget a classmate from high school?  Of course.  Forget to set your alarm?  Okay.  But forget the Maker of all things visible and invisible, the Source of Being, the Alpha and the Omega, the Lord and Giver of Life?  This seems impossible.

But there it is from the lips of Moses: "Do not forget the Lord, your God."  Moses instructs the people to remember all that the Lord had done for them.  Remember that he led them, freed them, healed them, quenched their thirst, and fed them."

Truth to be told, we do forget God.  Don't we?  Think about those Hebrew people.  They had a lot on their minds.  They were wandering in the desert, preparing battles, engaged in judicial procedures, entering into marriages, raising children, working, dealing with illnesses, mourning losses, burying loved ones, and a thousand other day to day realities that we call, "life."  They were busy. They weren't necessarily busy with bad things.  They were just busy.

Today, we celebrate the beautiful feast of Corpus Christi.  As part of today's feast, many Catholic communities have a procession.  The image of the Corpus Christi procession for me is a beautiful reminder of who we are as Catholics.  We are all people on the move.  We are all people who are living our daily lives, engaged in all sorts of activities, fulling our responsibilities, and doing the work entrusted to us.  Sometimes, however, we can feel as though our lives are disconnected.  Not just disconnected from one another, but disconnected in our own persons.  Our life can seem to have no consistency.  There's my work life, my family life, my church life, my interior life, my exterior life, my temptations, my relationships with this particular group, my relationships with that particular group, my hobbies etc.  We are the ones doing these things, but somehow, they can seem to have no consistency, no unity.

But, on Corpus Christi we discover the source of unity--the Eucharist.  We fall in line--together--behind the Eucharist.  Because, as St. Paul says, "Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf."  The Eucharist gives consistency to our life.  In that procession, we are reminded that everything in our life finds unity in Christ.  In that procession, we are reminded that our life is not just running from one thing to the next thing.  No, we are processing to God.  We are being led to eternal life.  Everything in this life is part of a great procession to life eternal.  Our life has meaning and purpose.  

We can forget God.  Even those of us who work in the Church can forget God.  We can become so busy with our projects and plans, that we forget that we are in the procession.  Sometimes this forgetfulness is willful.  Whether it be because of anger, sorrow, or shame, we can refuse to remember God.  When we feel those inspirations to pray, we can shut them down.  But, this forgetfulness can also be more gradual. We can simply be caught up in all of the individual pieces of our lives and lose sight of what is most important.  But to live in this way, is entirely unsatisfying and exhausting.  It drains us.

And so, we have Corpus Christi.  Today we remember that we are a people who are fed by God Himself.  And we are fed not merely with bread, but with God Himself.  The more we grow in our Faith in the Eucharist and in our Love for the Eucharist, the more our life has consistency; the more unified our life becomes.  We are a people who--in our joys and sorrows, fears and hopes, triumphs and failures, virtues and vices, merits and sins, wounds and strengths--are fed by the Lord.  He is with us in all of these things.  He never leaves us.  He alone gives meaning to our life.  Whether we are joyful or sorrowful, we are in the Lord.  We are in the procession.

When we forget God, our life can feel a bit like we are in a mob of people frantically running in different directions, hopelessly trying to make sense of things.  But on Corpus Christi, we calmly find ourselves together in the procession.  The procession provides a confident hope within us.  In the procession we discover that our life--in all of its complicated and varied aspects--possesses a unity.  This unity is discovered and lived in Christ.  He provides this unity and he perfects this unity.  

The procession is making its way through history and is on its way to eternity.  This Eucharistic Procession takes our whole life and orders it towards its proper end.  Unlike our ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bead will live forever.  When we forget God, our life becomes disconnected, disorienting, and chaotic.  In remembering God, we remember that we are being loved, fed, and led.  And this remembrance gives our life unity and meaning.

Do not forget the Lord, your God.