When it comes to literature, I prefer non-fiction. I enjoy stories of redemption and human-interest stories. One of my favorite books is entitled, What the Great Ate. It is a history of food and what the famous, and, not so famous people of history enjoyed in the culinary arts. For example, Sophia Loren once declared, “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.” Did you know that leading ladies complained about Clark Gable’s breath? He enjoyed a daily round of raw onions. Did you know that Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite cuisine was steak and ice cream? One evening dining out he consumed three rounds of steak and ice cream. And washed it all down with a spot of tea.
When it comes time to eating in the Gospel today on Corpus Christi, did you notice that Jesus tells the Twelve~ “Give them some food yourselves.” Since the people are hungry, never mind going into town looking for food. YOU feed them!
To illustrate, the Benedictine Abbot and Archbishop of Westminster, Basil Hume, died in 1999. The late Fr. Kevin Seasoltz of St. John’s Abbey used to tell this story about Cardinal Hume’s visit to Ethiopia. Cardinal Hume had been asked to visit a settlement where starving people were desperately waiting for food. As Cardinal Hume got out of the helicopter a small boy came up and took his hand. The boy had nothing but a loincloth around his waist. He would not let go of Cardinal Hume‘s hand. He made two gestures: with one hand he would point to his mouth to indicate his need for food. With the other he would take the cardinal‘s hand and rub it to his cheek. Cardinal Hume wrote: ―”I have never forgotten that incident. I realized in a new way those two profound and fundamental needs: for food and for love… With one gesture he showed the need for food, with the other his need for love. On reflection I realized in a new way the secret of the Eucharist, for the Eucharist is food and love.”
“Give them some food yourselves,” Jesus tells us. It may be in the form of nourishment. The Loaves and Fishes Community Pantry in Naperville reports that about 100,000 people of those living in DuPage County are “food insecure.” Assurances of three meals a day do not exist. And we might want to guess who make up the largest group of hungry in our county- the children. Maybe on Corpus Christi Day we might want to make a donation to feed the hungry. There are many ways to give. http://www.loaves-fishes.org
“Give them some food yourselves,” Jesus tells us. It may be in the form of love. In 1997, Jason and Stacy Bingham married. They never knew what would be asked of them as a married couple. All of their five children are diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, the deterioration of the heart muscle where the patient requires a transplant. Their thirteen-year old daughter received a transplant. Their four-year old son got a pacemaker. And now their nine-year old daughter underwent surgery for a new heart. Never once did Jason and Stacy ask for money to assist them in the cardio care. Instead, their friends created a website called “Hearts for Binghams.” http://www.heartsforbinghams.org. In the last paragraph of the website, Jason and Stacy ask that we pray for the doctors and staff at the hospital pray for the wisdom in making those moment-to-moment decisions for their children. We might want to give and pray for them on Corpus Christi Day.
St. Paul hands on to us the oldest account of the Last Supper. Jesus takes bread and wine and identifies himself with them. When we gather for the Eucharist we enter into that Sacred Passion and into the passion of all those who are hungry, thirsty and in need of a new heart. This is how we do this: in remembrance of Our Lord Jesus Christ. And when we remember him we remember the needs of the world….and, we act. In the words of St. Augustine, Become what you eat, receive what you are, the body of Christ given for the world.
The Rev. Fr. Dr. T. Becket A. Franks, O.S.B.