Body and Blood of Christ, Year C

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Your new moons and festivals I detest (Is. 1:14)

“Eight Dollar Hot Dog,” a movie whose time length is only 4 minutes and 22 seconds, provokingly confronts viewers with these stark and sobering numbers: in the U.S., we spend $18 billion on makeup and $15 billion on perfume; meanwhile, $10 billion would solve the water crisis and deliver clean water to people all across the globe, and $18 billion would bring food to every hungry child and adult on the planet [1].

The reaction of not a few of us to such a provocation may well be something like this: “What’s up with us Americans living it up and enjoying the best of life? Our tremendous success is due to the hard work toward which our work ethic has impelled us; we owe it to ourselves, we deserve, to live in affluence.”

Such an attempt at a justification might be expected of those who do not believe that human beings are all God’s children. It should, however, not come, as “Eight Dollar Hot Dog” teaches, from those who truly believe that all of us human beings are members of only one family and have God as our common Father. For all God’s children are to care for one another and God expects his children to help each other out.

But to the extent that we believers are capable, too, of trying to justify ourselves in like manner and fail to make our faith, hope and love not only affective but also effective, then there is no gainsaying the importance of the Pauline injunction against letting some members of God’s household go hungry while others have their fill and even get drunk, against showing contempt for the church, against making those who have nothing feel ashamed, against not recognizing the body of the Lord. Given our propensity to division and class-consciousness, it bears constantly repeating likewise this reminder from St. Paul also (1 Cor. 10:16-17):

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in
the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a
participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread
is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the
one loaf.

Participation in the body and blood of Christ—in the bread and wine Christ, our High Priest in the line of Melchizedek, brought out, that is to say, in the sacrifice Christ offered once for all in order to reconcile us to God and to one another—does not permit idolatry, including the narcissistically idolatrous display of vain and fading looks and smell, especially when it spells the seeking of one’s own advantage to the forgetting of the well-being of one’s brother or sister (cf. 1 Cor. 10:14, 21-24). And Jesus also asks us to provide ourselves, out of the superabundance arising from his power to multiply loaves and fish, for all the children and adults who would otherwise go without food.

A tremendously rich man in the U.S., then, cannot love his American way of life—his single-family home, his backyard, his swimming pool, his barbecue grill, his baseball games, his hot dog and apple pie, etc.—at the expense and exclusion of the 21st century Lazaruses lying at his gate (cf. no. 7 of the homily preached by John Paul II on October 2, 1979 at Yankee Stadium[2]). The pledge that Jesus, “inventive even into infinity,” left of his great love, in order never to depart from his own but be found among them here on earth as “really and substantially as he is in heaven,” commits us to the poor, to communion with them, too, for sure (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1337, 1397; cf. 146 [3]).