Miracle of miracles: I sank a 100-foot putt the other day.
I don’t let myself get too excited about the feat, because a) there was admittedly a huge amount of luck involved; and b) jarring that little sucker still netted me only a par. Which means, in essence, that two inept shots had preceded the memorable stroke – so really, there’s not much to brag about.
Walking off the green, though, I did pause to reflect about how that scintillating stroke would bring me back to the course. This, just a week after I’d given serious thought to quitting the game forever. You see, seven days before, I struggled a bit – posting the highest 9-hole tally I’d ever recorded. Finishing dead-last, in fact, among the 50 or so golfers in our league.
That was NOT fun. It was beyond humbling. Why bother trying to play a game…that seems to find so many ways to frustrate and confound?
But then miracles happen. A 100-footer goes in. You save par, even though you know don’t really deserve to be in that position. And you realize, ‘I guess I can’t walk away. I gotta see if this happens again.’
I was reminded of my recent experiences on the golf course…when I gathered with some fellow parishioners to break open the scripture readings we proclaim for this week’s feast – the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. Corpus Christi Sunday.
We talked in particular about the gospel reading, from John. Among all of Jesus’ teachings, this one is certain to confound:
Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world.”
Chew on Jesus’ assertion for a bit, and it almost inevitably leads to harsh words and misunderstandings:
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
In fact, John tells us that many found themselves unable to digest what Jesus taught that day.
As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.
It happened then. It happens today: These are walk-off words, even for many Christians. It’s nearly impossible to get our heads around the idea that such a miracle is possible. That Jesus could actually be present in the Eucharist. That his flesh is true food, and his blood is true drink.
Yet, this is precisely what we celebrate. The truth is, Eucharist is an invitation into a mystery far deeper and more profound than a 100-foot putt made—or any of the miracles we experience, large or small, from day to day.
Eucharist speaks to our heart, not our head. It is an invitation into communion—a chance to eat, and to become what we eat. A chance to find our true selves, in God. And we are much the poorer if we choose to walk away from that which our limited intellects can’t fully understand.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.