The Sunday Sermon: Corpus Christi A.D. 2014
A Sermon for the Feast of Corpus Christi A.D. 2014
The Rev’d Thomas J. Pettigrew,
Parish Priest and Rector
The Church of the Holy Cross – Warrensburg, NY
+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
God reveals his love in many ways in the Eucharist. One of the most powerful ways is the vulnerability which gives himself to us. Under the species of bread and wine, God comes to us, to commune with us in our inner most being – in the depths of our hearts. HE comes to us, who are sinners – weak willed, selfish, imperfect in our ability to love on another, let alone He who is Love. – and he offers himself – his total self to us and for us.
As God gives his complete self to use, he also asks that we give our complete self to him – that is, our complete self, not the person we present to the world, but the authentic, full self whom we know ourselves to be – imperfect, broken, hurt.
Opening our hearts leaves us vulnerable. Yet, it is that self which God seeks to know. Or perhaps it is better to say that God already knows us, knows our hearts, knows our brokenness, knows our pain, knows our fears – already knows the real person whom we are, knows all the stuff we are embarrassed by. Knows the parts of our lives we’d rather not think about, rather not talk about, rather not remember.
That’s whom God seeks – not the person we think we are, or would like to be, or even the person we make ourselves out to be in public. He seeks us out and desires that we open all of that stuff to him – no because he needs to know it – but rather because we need to face it – so that he can commune with us as we really are – and can transform and redeem us from all of those hurts, all of those imperfections, all of our brokenness by his grace and love. That’s why he comes to us in the Eucharist – that’s what he seeks out as he enters our mind, body and spirit through the grace of this Sacrament.
When our Lord went about the Holy Land, very often his disciples tried to keep the sick, the unclearn, and the mentally disturbed away from him. How often do we read Jesus telling them not to hinder these people? The disciples did these things because they thought that by his contact with them he would become unclean. They thought that somehow their uncleanness would taint and tarnish his holiness. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was, infact, and still is, just the opposite: It was his holiness and their faith in his holiness that transformed them, and made them clean, whole, unblemished, and at peace.
God wants to reach us in our most unclean, most sick, most disturbed, most unholy self. And he leaves himself vulnerable to us because he needs us to have faith enough to open ourselves to him – so that he can touch us there and commune with us there in the depths of our hearts and make us clean, at peace, and yes, even holy.
In the Eucharist today, which we adore and give thanks for, God gives himself to us. He shows us that in order to full love, even he became vulnerable to our rejection. That is our greatest fear in loving another – opening our fullest self to another and being rejected. But God already knows us, our true self, and he loves us. He desires that we open ourselves to him – to become vulnerable to him – just as he has become vulnerable to us, so that his love may transform us. Unlike opening our hearts to other people, though, when we open ourselves to God, he will never reject us.
Perhaps there are some things he will find in us that he doesn’t want there – we call that sin – but for that he doesn’t reject us – he forgives us and transforms us by his grace.
Indeed, that sin was forgiven long ago on the Cross, by the blood of Christ. And it is that Body, crucified, risen, and glorified by our Heavenly Father, that we receive and adore and give thanks for today.
But that power to forgive, to be forgiven, comes at a cost to us. And that Cost is faith in our Good and loving God – a faith to open – to be vulnerable to him in self giving love, just has he gives himself perfectly to us in that self giving love on the Cross.
Are you willing to be vulnerable to God? Are you willing follow his example and to open the whole of your heart to him and lay your whole self before him? That’s really what today is about, in a sense.
IN the Eucharist – at the time of communion – God’s love for you and for me will be placed in our hands – God, giving himself to us. And in that moment – we are called to give ourselves fully to him.
And when that monstrance, containing the consecrated host, is raised over us in the form of the Cross to bless us – we will see in that moment God’s love for you and for me.
How will we respond? IN rejection? Or will we say “Yes, Lord, You have given your self to me, now I give me self to thee and I love you, too, with all my heart, my soul, my strength, and my mind. Here I am Lord, to receive your Love!”?
+ IN the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.