Feast of Corpus Christi (Father's Day)

A reflection on the Feast of Corpus Christi (Father’s Day, June 18, 2006)

By John Houk

The readings for this Sunday:

Ex 24:3-8
Psalm 116:12-13, 15-18
Hebrews 9:11-15
Mark 14:12-16, 22-26

The full text of the readings can be found here.

There is no evidence that Hallmark and the Church conspired to produce this double holiday (holy day). The Feast of Corpus Christi dates from the 13th century, and quickly became popular (Catholic Encyclopedia) because people like processions. The newly consecrated Body of Christ would be carried through the streets after Mass. I would get up and walk in such a procession. Processions can be very powerful experiences.

I am also a Father, and it is nice to have the light shone in my direction once a year. We all like a little affirmation. But let’s get to this Feast Day as we find it in the Gospel reading with some context.

Jesus raises Lazarus, and word of someone being raised from the dead gets around fast. Jesus and his disciples (including the twelve) arrive in Jerusalem to be greeted by large crowds. The Chief Priests conspire to have this troublemaker killed. Jesus is teaching in Jerusalem when the Jewish Feast of Passover approaches. He tells “two disciples” (in Mark) to go and find a place “where I may eat the Passover with my disciples.” Then in the Gospel today we read the story of the Last Supper, Jesus’ Last Supper.

On our dining room wall (not living room or bedroom or family room) hangs a painting of this Last Supper done by a Polish artist for an Irish group called BASIC (Brothers and Sisters in Christ). It differs greatly from the old standard by Leonardo DaVinci, which shows twelve guys all sitting on one side of the table with Jesus in the middle (unless you believe that he snuck M.M. in when no one was looking). The BASIC painting depicts a family gathering, men, women and children, around a table—just like a Passover Feast was and is still celebrated.

Jesus had an inclusive message that this painting depicts, and we are still trying to live out. The biggest questions for our Church over the centuries have been who is in and who is out. Were the Gentiles included? The Barbarians? The Native Peoples? The People of Color? The Protestants (now separated brethren [sic])? People of other faiths? People of no faith? We eventually seem to come up with the right answer (Jesus’ answer), which is, “yes” they are included.

Jesus would not have said, “You twelve guys stay here and celebrate Passover with me and the rest of you disciples go down to Taco Bell.” He just would not have done that. You know it, and so do I. When Jesus said, “Remember me” he was talking to everyone. Jesus had a family of followers—his disciples. Jesus was a family man.

Happy Father’s Day!