Have you noticed how kid’s birthday parties these days seem to be getting more and more… fun? We’ve been to more bowling alleys, jump zones, mini-golf arcades, lazer tag galleries, movies in the last few years, and we’ve had a blast!.
But I’ve noticed another wonderful trend as well: thank you cards. Within a few days after the party, I can almost always count on a hand-written note of gratitude from the host or hostess in the mail. And we try to do the same. After we host, we put our kids at the dining room table with a list of everyone who attended, a box of thank you cards, and a pen.
But it’s more than that. My wife and I want to show our kids how important it is to say ‘thank you.’ We all do it. Whether it’s for a surprise anniversary party, a wedding celebration, a funeral Mass, an ordination… A thank you note following the event is important.
But gratitude is not only a sign of being a thoughtful person… it’s at the heart of our Liturgy. In a very real sense, today’s feast, Corpus Christ, the body and blood of Christ, is about gratitude. Gratitude and remembrance. We need to say ‘thank you’ to Christ…. For the Last Supper. For the Eucharist, the source and summit of our lives. To remember that He paid the price, for us, for our sins.
But if you’re like me, you’re probably asking – where’s the thank you card for that? How am I going to thank Jesus, for that?
A few years back, the District of Columbia police auctioned off about 100 unclaimed lost and stolen bicycles a few years ago. When the bidding started on the first bike, an 11-year-old boy who was in shabby clothes shouted out “One dollar”. The bidding, however, went much higher for each and every bike, and he was outbid each and every time.
The auctioneer, who had been at this for 43 years, was paying attention. When the crowd had thinned, and there was only one bike remaining, the bidding went to eight dollars.
“Sold to that boy over there for nine dollars!” said the auctioneer. He took eight dollars from his own pocket and asked the boy for his dollar. The boy turned it over in pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters-took his bike, and started to leave.
But he went only a few feet. Carefully parking his new possession, he went back, threw his arms around the auctioneer’s neck. And, he simply cried.
That sounds like a perfect thank you card to me.
St. Paul understands this in our second reading today. He’s letting the Corinthians know in if they want to keep the Eucharist at the heart of Christian belief; they have to remember – in fact, we are instructed twice to “do this in remembrance of me.” Just as Passover remembers the Israelites celebrating their deliverance from Egypt, so is the Eucharist an occasion to remember God’s deliverance of sinners through the Paschal Mystery.
It gets better. When a group of people get together to say ‘thank you’, we call it Liturgy. We member as a community Jesus’ saving act. Through the sharing of the bread and wine, transformed into his body and blood, we become one body in Christ. We all end up doings things for each other. Its’ our living, breathing ‘thank you card’.
All of Scripture – Old Testament and New Testament — tells us that’s the only ‘thank you’ that God wants… To remember the ultimate gift. To remember how the gift of ‘communion’ has changed our lives. To do this in remembrance of me. It’s how we change the world.
St. Augustine said, “Behold what you are, become what you receive.” When we receive the Eucharist, we have the opportunity for a moment to literally “behold” our Lord and Savior. When we receive Him into our body, we become “the Body of Christ.” Our hands are the hands Christ needs, our minds are the minds Christ needs, and our hearts are the hearts Christ needs. Corpus Christi, our solemnity today, reminds us of that.
So, what will you do, to remember? Maybe your ‘thank you card’ will be really listening to the Prayers of the Faithful today, and thinking about what you can do to bring about the Kingdom of God. Maybe your ‘thank you card’ can be swallowing your pride, and really listening to your boss at work, even when you know she is probably wrong. Maybe your ‘thank you card’ is putting down the iPad, and listening to someone who is talking to you.
Maybe we should all add this to our refrigerator list – ‘thank you card’ to Jesus. Maybe we all need to sit at the dining room table, today, and get writing.