The Body and Blood of Christ – Fr. Adam Royal
June 14, 2020 – 8:30 AM and 1:00 PM
Growing up, my family had a few cows. I will always remember one of them; her name was Annabelle. She was a pretty cow. Annabelle had beautiful red fur, two tiny nubs for horns, and was very sweet. She loved the taste of freshly mowed grass. Every time we mowed, I would pick up piles of grass and offer them to her. She ate it right out of my hands. She would even let me rub her head and pet her. Eventually, Annabelle had two children, a boy and a girl. I named them Mickey and Minnie. Even though they were a bit skittish, I slowly got to where I could feed and pet them as well. Then, one day, Mickey was taken away. My dad loaded him up on a trailer and he was gone. A few days later Mickey returned. Well, parts of him returned, wrapped in butcher paper and ready for grilling. I stopped naming the cows that day.
This was the first moment I realized there is an inescapable cruelty to human life. We want to live; we want it more than anything else. But the only way we know how is by stealing it. We steal the life of other living things, so that we may go on living. We kill to live. Let us not delude ourselves, ripping a carrot out of its home in the ground and taking its life, is not really any different from eating a cow. Either way we are stealing life.
I think this is at the heart of the strife we see in the world. Violence, hatred, and prejudice, all of these are rooted in fear. We are afraid that life is scarce, that there isn’t enough to go around. If we let others into our nation, or neighborhoods, or homes, then they might take the life we were going to steal. They might use it all up and there won’t be enough left for us. So we build walls, marginalize, and incarcerate. We make sure that we are the ones privileged to consume life, and no one else.
Into this deplorable and cruel reality, stepped Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. He made a startling claim, that he would give us his flesh to eat. Under the appearance of bread, he would feed us the flesh of God. This seemingly preposterous assertion is also the greatest gift he could have possibly given, because it sets us free. It sets us free from the inescapable cruelty of life. No longer must we steal life; now it has been given to us as a gift. God, who is life itself, freely offers life to us all. And not just life as we know it, but a new life, eternal life, limitless life, freed from all corruption and pain. This new life is not scare; it is infinite. Whoever desires life can come to this table and eat, no one has to be turned away.
But there is one condition. To eat from this altar, the table of God’s flesh, we must let go of our old way of life. We must let go of the mindset of scarcity, of our fears that build walls and exclude, and we must accept all who wish to join us. To eat the bread from heaven, we must live the life heaven. And whoever eats this bread will live forever.