Stephen D’Evelyn on Corpus Christi: With Thanks for Being Physical

This week the Church celebrates the festival of Corpus Christi, the body of Christ. This is an occasion to consider and give thanks for the goodness–the very goodness–of physical things and beings–of being physical.

Of course the day was instituted in the later Middle Ages to draw attention to the Church’s doctrine of the Eucharist. And this is indeed worth attending to. But that attending can be a kind of receiving and giving thanks. What seems to lie at the heart of Corpus Christi is the gift of body. The real power of this reality comes home when we see that this is the gift of body not of power–not the structures of exclusion, might makes right, denigration, but the spirit of a new generosity.

Receiving our own nad others’ embodiment as gift brings us into new experience. No longer hoarding, we give away and give way and feel lighthearted in feeling lighter for it.

We give and receive in love: with my body I honour you, all I have I give to you, those marriage words reverberate.

Corpus Christi reminds us about honouring by doing, about remembering by recognizing that something has happened. We recognize that reality has changed by Christ giving himself to us. By recognizing this event is important, we recognize that things have changed, do change. And so we recognize that change is present with us and to us.

The event recognized in Corpus Christi is not the victory of power. It is the gift of relation, the gift of being loved.

The gift of body is the gift of touch, and thus of being touched. Here we find–are found by–are found in–the gift of God whose love creates what is different, whose love creates relating itself. Here we find the source of all that is, the giving so overwhelmingly loving it surpasses its own everything-self and gives rise to things and persons different from itself. And so it is possible to give, to receive, to be received as we are, so different, so suffering, and in remembering the gifts of God at Corpus Christi we re-see that we are embraced and remembered.


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