Sunday, May 29, 2016

Dividing by Infinity

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on the Sunday in the Octave of Corpus Christi

As Anglican Catholics, we are bound to believe that what we receive in the Mass really is the true Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. So when you come forward to receive the sacrament today, which bit of the Body of Christ will you get?

Since the Body of Christ has been broken for us, which bit do we get?  Surely it must be absolutely tiny, or was Our Lord the size of a planet for His body to be broken into enough pieces for all Christians in history to receive Him?

Ah, but you already know how to answer this objection, don't you?


In your heads right now is the Lord's miracle of the loaves and fishes. You know full well that the Lord can feed multitudes with apparently meagre resources and have much left over. This miracle is repeated in the Mass as it always has been. We receive the Body of Christ which is utterly inexhaustible.

But do we know which bit of the Body we get?

When we divide things, they tend to get smaller as we break them into bits. As we have seen, this doesn't happen in the miracle we receive. It must be that each of us receives the WHOLE Body of Christ. And that just seems ridiculous. If there is only One Lord Jesus Christ, how can we each receive Him?


Recall that the Lord's Resurrection Body defies physics. It walks through walls, appears in crowded rooms, disappears in front of people. Yet, He is always recognisable. You cannot mistake Him, just as those on the road to Emmaus recognised Him in the breaking of bread.

Mathematically, it is perfectly possible to divide an object up to make two copies which are the same size as the original. Yet Our Lord goes beyond this. We are not even given copies of His Body. We are given His body - His one body, in one perfect sacrifice. It defies our understanding and common sense, yet our faith tells us it is so. Our minds tell us only that it is reasonable.

Yet further, this one Body of Christ that each of us receives actively unites us in Him. Although the Church may be divided, yet in this Holy Mass, we are all united with each and every single Catholic. It is not Our Lord Who divides Himself, He unites us and brings us together as one human being in a multiplicity of persons. It is not God who is changed: it's us! God transforms us that we might be one in Him.

Our Lord still does work glorious, transforming miracles for His church, and that means He works glorious, transforming miracles on us too, if we let Him. It is a work in progress but will ultimately lead us to the banquet in Heaven - the same banquet as we receive now here on Earth.

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