Living the Gospel – June 14, 2020

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Compassion is hands on. I cannot walk the walk of a Christian if I swaddle myself in pink cotton to keep safe from all harm. Life is down and dirty. I am vulnerable and if I dig into life, I will get hurt. But that is part and parcel to the reality Jesus is asking me to live. It’s not a matter of if follow Him, nothing bad will happen to me; it’s go for it and He’ll be here with me to strengthen and heal me. He will hold me when I am low and walk with me through my day to day challenge. This is compassion in action.

In the history of Christianity plagues have decimated populations multiple times. And through it all an odd thing was noted. While Christians were equally hit by disease, they had a higher survival rate. Even just knowing a Christian could make the difference of whether you lived or died. Some people latched onto the faith as if it were a magical charm, but others recognized the underlying truth. Christians — the real ones —- were a people of compassion. Despite the risks, they cared for the sick and dying, providing them with food and water, and washing their sores. This nourishment and hygiene, in turn, led to a higher survival rate.

During our current pandemic, we don’t get to do the physical touching and caring that we might like to, but we, as Christians, have been demonstrating our compassion with food banks and distribution of necessities. We are using modern technology to keep in touch with friends and family. We may put on masks and maintain social distancing, but we still make it a point to care about our neighbors.

All this is physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining. In normal times I replenish my spirit by attending Mass and partaking in communion. The body and blood of our savior is real nourishment. But this time, it’s different. Participating in Mass is not something I have been able to do. To be sure, I have new opportunities to attend on-line Mass, join others in novenas and rosaries, and even join online conferences and retreats. But something is missing; I am missing that vital contact with Jesus.

If the host was nothing more than bread and I ate it only to remember the Last Supper, I wouldn’t feel the emptiness that I do. But as a Catholics, I recognize that the host is more than a wafer of bread. It is actually the body of Christ. By consuming it, I become one with Christ, a part of his precious body and blood. I am filled with His compassion.

On this Feast of Corpus Christi, I remember with an aching longing how vitally important it is for me to consume Christ to make him a part of me, and become a part of him.

Linda Crowley