Sunday, June 06, 2021

Giving thanks for scotch eggs?

Sermon for the Sunday in the Octave of Corpus Christi

It's not exactly a feast, is it? A little wafer and a little wine. 

"Of course it is!" you say with vigour. How do you know that you are right?


What can we expect of feasts? The image that we have is a lot of people gathered together eating a lot, drinking a lot and generally enjoying each others' company with music and fun.

Oh dear. That sounds a million miles away from going to church.

Yet, certainly at the beginning, this was how the Eucharist went. The Mass was the culmination of the agape meal. This meal did get rather rowdy, as St Paul testifies. People are getting drunk. People are eating too much. Others aren't getting any food because the plates are bare. There is more concern over the quantity of scotch eggs than the Body of Christ.

St Paul effectively puts an end to the agape meal by redirecting its focus. How can we be discerning the Body and Blood of Christ if we are acting as if He is not with us? How can we be present at the wedding feast of the Lamb if we ignore the Bridegroom Himself?


As a result of what St Paul says, the rowdy behaviour, the drunkenness and the gluttony are ended. But has this killed the feast? How can we call the Mass a feast of it's nothing like a feast?

"But it is a feast," you say. And you are right.


Is there music? We sing hymns and psalms. There is a whole tradition of Christian choral music of all flavours and tastes. 

Is there good company? We have our brothers and sisters, some of whom we see every week, others once in a while. There are some who come for the first time. There are others who come from other countries and cultures who, having left their church behind, nonetheless find here the same family worshipping God.

Is there food and drink aplenty? The eyes of the World say no. But we say yes. For we discern the Body and Blood of Christ and His grace is sufficient for us. We see the Lord's miracle of the feeding of the multitudes with a little bread and a few small fish, and we see people having enough to eat and there is food left over in baskets. 

Is there rejoicing? Yes! It's the Eucharist! We come to give thanks. There is no hilarity because someone has gotten drunk and has managed to fall into the swimming pool. There are no silly games and contests. But rowdy behaviour is not the only way to enjoy yourself. The joy we get at the Mass needs to be discerned like the Body and Blood of Christ. It is there as we look with gratitude at our lives. Of course, Life can be hard and dark and cold, but the Mass is the one place where people who feel that life isn't worth living should be able to come and know that God does love them and thanks Himself for making each and every human being that ever was, is and ever will be.


We simply cannot look at the Eucharistic Feast in the same way as a party. It's better than that. We have to leave our worldly expectations at the door along with the booze and the scotch eggs.

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