Readings for Week 10 in Year 1
Monday: 2 Corinthians 1:1-7; Psalm 34:1-8; Matthew 5:1-12
Tuesday: 2 Corinthians 1:18-22; Psalm 119:129-136; Matthew 5:13-16
Wednesday: 2 Corinthians 3:4-11; Psalm 99; Matthew 5:17-19
Thursday: 2 Corinthians 3:12– 4:6; Psalm 85:7-13; Matthew 5:20-26
Friday: Acts 11:19-30; Psalm 112; Galatians 2:1-10
Saturday: 2 Corinthians 5:14-21; Psalm 103:1-12; Matthew 5:33-37
It is a relief to find some sunshine at last, on the days when it happens! The number of cars coming into town during half-term shows what an attraction Porthcawl still is for so many. You do wonder where everyone is going to park when BCBC build on the Salt Lake, but I’m sure there is a masterplan somewhere with something more than a larger car park in Pyle.
This Sunday we celebrate Corpus Christi, moving the feast from the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. This gives us a chance in word (and usually hymns) to concentrate a bit on what it is we are doing each time we receive Holy Communion. The Jesus who shared our human life knows how we rely on signs and symbols to signify holy things – we use oil for anointing, water for baptism, touch for Confirmation, rings at weddings. These are what the Prayer Book Catechism calls ‘outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace’.
In Holy Communion there is more than one sign and more than one level of meaning. Outwardly, of course, we take bread and, in normal life, share wine from the common cup. Physically this is what is remains. The priest uses Jesus’ words at the Last Supper – so at the most basic it acts as a ‘recall’ of what happened then, when Jesus gathered with the Twelve around a table. Inwardly and spiritually, however, we enter much more deeply into the mystery of our Salvation.
The priest, rather than a layperson, presides – someone called, recognised and ordained, representing the whole Church of Christ through their orders. So Holy Communion becomes an act not just of those gathered in one particular building but of all Christians everywhere – as the service says – ‘We beseech you to grant to us and your whole Church perfect remission of our sins and all other benefits of His Passion’ – the part represents the whole.
Further and deeper again, we take Jesus at his word – ‘This is my Body, which is broken for you, this is my Blood which is shed for you’ – we take His sacrifice for us both physically and spiritually into ourselves. He gives Himself for us and gives Himself to us. This gift, this re-presentation of the sacrifice on the Cross, is God in Christ literally touching our lives, declaring His love for us today as He did on Calvary. Read the fourth verse of the great poem by Thomas Aquinas on this week’s sheet: our faith gives us the courage to feel and perceive Christ’s presence in bread and wine become His Body and Blood.
This Sunday we give and offer our thanks for this great gift which sustains us and strengthens us on our journey so that, as the Collect says, ‘we might know within ourselves the fruit of His redeeming love’.
Of the glorious body telling,
O my tongue, its mysteries sing,
And the blood, all price excelling,
Which the world’s eternal King,
In a noble womb once dwelling,
Shed for this world’s ransoming.
Given for us, for us descending,
Of a virgin to proceed,
Man with man in converse blending,
Scattered he the gospel seed,
Till his sojourn drew to ending,
Which he closed in wondrous deed.
At the last great supper lying
Circled by his chosen band,
Duly with the law complying,
First he finished its command,
Then, immortal food supplying,
Gave himself by his own hand.
Word-made-flesh, by word he maketh
Bread his very flesh to be;
Man in wine Christ’s blood partaketh:
And if senses fail to see,
Faith alone the true heart waketh
To behold the mystery.
Therefore we, before him bending,
This great sacrament revere:
Types and shadows have their ending,
For the newer rite is here;
Faith, our outward sense befriending,
Makes the inward vision clear.
St Thomas Aquinas (1227-74), translated by JM Neale