I am going to tell you a true story of a construction worker I will call, Joe. Family was very important to this man as well as was going to church every weekend. It had become a habit to have the family gatherings after the noon Mass on Sundays. On Monday mornings he would get up, get ready for work, go to the refrigerator and retrieve his lunch box and then go to work site.
Although he was a seasoned worker it was a hard and dangerous job. He was employed by a construction company that built tall buildings. When he got to work he noticed that a new employee had started working. This man was young, unkempt, and seemed afraid of going high on the scaffolding. He was working at a steady pace and was putting forth much effort trying to follow the directions of the foreman. When lunch time came around Joe got his lunch box and began to eat. After a few minutes he noticed that this new worker was not eating anything. Without thinking he leaned over and offered the young man a sandwich out of love. After protesting a little bit, the young man took the sandwich that was offered. The older construction worker explained that his wife always packed too much food for him to eat. The lunch was shared and the two went back to work.
The next day, Joe, noticed that the young man did not have any lunch. So he gave him the extra sandwiches he had brought along. This kept going on for a few months until one day the young man brought his own lunch. He explained to the older man that he had just gotten out of prison when they had first met. He did not have enough money to purchase food. He had had to wait until he received some checks from the construction company to get an apartment and to get enough money for food and a refrigerator. There were no services provided by the State Correctional Program to help those just released from prison. They former inmates were left totally on their own. Just a simple thing of being able to get a job and eat lunch was a big thing in his life.
Joe had given from his heart so the former inmate could make it on the job. It probably was the only kindness this man received that day. It enabled him to keep working and to start anew. This simple act of kindness and respect for another is part of the Gospel story we have today.
Today's Gospel repeats itself from the Lenten readings. This Gospel is so important that it needs to be repeated time after time. It starts out talking about the feast of Passover and the Feast of the Unleavened Bread. This feast of Passover was a great feast and one which both men and women celebrated. But tonight Jesus was going to combine this feast with another wonderful and powerful experience that would expand the meaning. Eucharist was going to be the great gift that Jesus was going to institute tonight. Tomorrow he was going to go to his execution and die but tonight there was going to be a joyous celebration.
If any of you worry about knowing what Jesus wants you to do remember what happened in the beginning of the Gospel story. He asked two of his disciples to go into Jerusalem to find a meeting place for the Passover dinner. Jesus told them that they were to look for a man carrying a jar of water. Men did not carry jars of water. This was women's work. Not only did they find a man carrying a jar of water, this man led them to a house with an upper room and made arrangements for the dinner with men women and children present. As an aside, great trust is required when Jesus asks us to do things. And, Jesus does provide all answers at the proper time.
At the dinner there was a mix of gentiles, Jewish members. Some of the traditions were a mix of both traditions. Jesus showed with his actions and words a transition to the New Covenant which is the sacrifice of himself. We receive the same body and blood of Christ sacra mentally in the Eucharist. I struggle sometimes that when a priest says the words of consecration, the bread and wine does become the body and blood of Jesus. But, I know it is true. There is holy energy and great mystery when this happens. I believe it is the joining of all people's prayers at Mass that Jesus is among us. It is not enough to partake of the Body and Blood and then return to our same way of life. It is in the partaking we are called to change ourselves, and to change others people's lives for good.
There has been a great tradition in the Church of having a Corpus Christi procession on this Sunday. This is to remind people that after receiving the blessed, consecrated bread we are to then take this "bread" into the community. This means that our behavior should be one of helping one another who are hurting and who sit by the roadside begging. The people we meet do not have to be literally begging but there are so many people who need encouragement. In many churches there are Holy Hours where the Blessed Sacrament is worshiped and put in front of the church where people kneel and pray. For some this kind of prayer is meaningful. But I believe we are called to much more than this. We need to be Christ to one another and do what we can to strengthen those in need. At times it may seem to challenging. By receiving the Body and Blood we will be given the grace to see what needs to be done even if we have been blinded before. Not only will be given the energy to go and do what we have to do for others, we will have the right words to say. Jesus has given himself freely in the Eucharist and we must do the same.
Coming to Mass on Sundays is a glorious and magnificent time. We must listen to see what Jesus is asking us to do the people that appear in our lives unexpectedly as the young worker appeared at the construction job. Listen to what Jesus is asking. Do what Jesus is asking us to do. Is God asking us to share a sandwich with someone? Or is God asking us to become involved in someone else's life? Maybe God is asking us to be receptive to someone else offering their help to us when we are need something but are too embarrassed to ask.
As we leave church today, we will process out after we have partaken in Communion. Everyone we meet today and this week will notice that we are processing through life different. We can be in a Corpus Christi procession each day as we strive to be the Bread of Jesus to all that we meet. Take your bag of "sandwiches" with you as you go about your week and feed the poor among you. I plan to do the same.