Corpus Christi

The Body Of Christ, The Christian Church, John 6 51-59

Juliana of Liege was orphaned at the age of 5 and was placed in a home for children, funded by the Roman Catholic Church, in Liege, Belgium. While there she had several visions that were always the same. The first was in 1208 when she had vision that the church appeared to be under a full moon but the moon had a dark spot in it. She repeatedly had this vision over the years and finally went to her bishop to tell him about it. She was perplexed to see this moon with the dark spot in it and after much prayer it was revealed to her by Christ that the dark spot was there because there was no festival among the many festivals in the church of ‘corpus christi’. As fortune would have it, her bishop became the Pope. He was Pope Urban IV and in 1264 he instituted the festival of Corpus Christi! Since that time the festival has been on the Church Calendar and it is usually celebrated on the first Sunday after Trinity!

I am delighted that we have the festival but I nevertheless am saddened by the fact that the Eucharist or Holy Communion, or The Lord’s Supper is the most dividing force in the Christian Church today. Church doctrine and teaching about this sacrament in which Christ comes to us in a very real way has gotten in the way of the unity of The Body Of Christ, the church.

John’s gospel talks about this differently than the rest of the gospels. He does not include the words of institution but talks about the experience of Holy Communion in a real way.

Isn’t it sad that because of differences in Church doctrine, all of us have been turned away from receiving Holy Communion? The very meal that could unite us continues to divide us.

Have you heard any of the following comments or perhaps even used them yourself? Orthodox Churches don/t recognize Roman Catholic Communion. Roman Catholicism doesn’t recognize Anglican Communion. Anglicanism doesn’t recognize Independent Church Communion. Independent Churches don’t recognize the Communion of one another. Children are too young to receive Communion. The unbaptized can’t receive communion. The unconfirmed shouldn’t receive communion. The uncatechised shouldn’t receive Communion. People are too sinful to receive Communion. The proud and haughty are too proud and haughty to receive communion. Communion should only be undertaken with wafers and wine. Communion should only undertaken with bread and wine. Communion should be undertaken with bread and grape juice. We should share one chalice/cup. We should have individual cups. We should receive Communion daily. We receive Communion weekly. We should receive Communion only twice a year. We should all receive bread and wine. We should receive bread only and the priest consumes the wine. We can dispose of bread and wine in a bin and a sink. The priest should consume all consecrated bread and wine. You should not be allowed to commune if you have been divorced. You should not be allowed to commune if you are upset with someone.

The debate—and divisions and anger and rejection—run very deep, dividing Christian against Christian.

It seems to me that we need a new vision for Corpus Christi. It seems to me that the dark spot in the full moon of Juiana’s vision has become the dark spot of division amongst Christians that dishonors Christ at the very point where we are called to honor him most