Time is a commodity, something traded, bought and sold. It is valued; when we are young, it offers possibility. When we are old, it promises a conclusion to the story lived and told. Time entices us with experiences wedged within its parameters, seduces us with hope. And then it flees, somehow disappearing in the very way it is spent and sometimes squandered. It escapes, becomes a memory and finds a harbor in its having been. But still, it continues.
As a Catholic, I mark time by holidays and seasons, celebrations and memorials. I find home in the memory bank of the ages and I find hope in the next steps Time promises. The Feast of Corpus Christi bears a particular significance. It is tied to the real human presence of Jesus, and to the sharing, the connections, among Jesus and his disciples. It is part of His legacy and threads each of the holidays, seasons, celebrations and memorials together into one tapestry. It is anchored in the past, lived in the present and is the promise for the future.
At a time when stereotypes are so stigmatizing and the very concept of religion or faith is suspect, Corpus Christi is a reminder that there is a table where we all can gather, where we can all share. Gathering in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, Jesus used a beloved ritual to offer a new promise. At that table, there was no judgement, just persons gathered together. The breaking of bread together, sharing the good the earth offers and nurturing one another is an opening in time, a portal to the past, an achowledgment of the present and a doorway to the future. That table, such as it is, is acutally a clear invitation to be who you are and to trust with confidence in friends.
Of course, Judas shared that meal. That reality is a compelling reminder that we are indeed all welcome: the broken and stubborn, the leaders and the followers, the flawed and the fearless. The emphasis is on the sharing itself, on the idea of really participating in the life and teachings of Christ and doing that anchored in a different millennium and a world of dramatic and unremitting change.
It is easy to believe that lives in centuries past were somehow less than our own, somehow less significant or less accomplished. Less busy, less conscious, less aware of right and wrong, less attuned to justice and injustice. To believe that is to ignore those gathered around the table. Each is anchored to a moment of time; each possesses and lives a story. No one is less or more than the other: Jesus, after all, embraced all in the invitation to share, to participate in the sharing of His Body and Blood.
Corpus Christi is our moment. It is our reminder that a place at the table belongs to each of us. It is ours to welcome the moment, to share the experience, to know the gift. There are thousands of reasons not to; excuses abound. Legitimately, the church’s embroilment in scandal has discredited its message; understandably, there is an intellectual rebellion against policies and theological constructs. Corpus Christi is the reminder that we all belong at the table together. We are anchored in this historical context, this moment in time, together. This is our time, and it is up to us to choose how to spend it.