Daily Reflection
June 14th, 2001
Mary Haynes Kuhlman
English Department
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Second Corinthians 3:15--4:1, 3-6
Psalms 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
Matthew 5:20-26

Today, the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, is the feast of Corpus Christi for the worldwide Church, and a "holy day of obligation" [to attend Mass] in many places.  But here in the United States, we will celebrate that great Feast next Sunday, June 17, calling it "The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ."  This year our Gospel for Corpus Christi will be Luke's telling of how Jesus fed the multitude with five loaves and two fish.  So today I start thinking about the nice Feast that we Americans have three extra days to prepare for, and how the Incarnate Word, with the words of our Scriptures, will give us what we need. 

Our readings, for this Thursday of the Tenth Week, are first about seeing God's Glory, and then a stern Gospel selection about the need to be reconciled and to get things straightened out before we can worship that Glory at the altar.  Much as we may honor the Body and Blood of Christ these days, we don't seem to worry as much about being ready, being worthy, to receive Corpus Christi as did earlier generations of Catholics in the United States.  Earlier generations were bound by Church rule to fast, in fact refrain from consuming anything, even water, not for a mere hour but from the beginning of the day to midnight.  Perhaps with its less exacting rules today, the Church aims to lead us to consider whether our hearts are ready and worthy to receive Christ! 

The Gospel admonishes us to surpass others in, according to various translations, "righteousness" or "justice" or "holiness."  It ends saying you never get out (of the prison of self?) "until you have paid the last penny."  I feel there's something here about both obeying laws (fasting or attending Mass if your Church so requires) and going beyond legalistic obedience to true "righteousness" ("justice," "holiness").  I'm thinking about honoring values and relationships in ways that they deserve. 

Some of us may know exactly those to whom we must say "I'm sorry" or "I forgive you."  But those of us who think we aren't angry at anyone right now, and no one is particularly angry at us, who think we are not using abusive language and are not holding any of God's children in contempt -- maybe today's Gospel calls us to open our eyes and do a little "soul-searching" about our human tendencies to snap judgments against others and to distancing ourselves.  And even if a brother or sister isn't consciously holding anything against you -- perhaps a relationship needs reconciling, re-establishing -- "I'm sorry I haven't called back" or "answered your letter" is also "I'm sorry I haven't honored your goodness as you deserve." 

By coincidence, in the United States June 14 is also Flag Day, a civic (but not a "legal," bank-closing) holiday.  It's a day to honor both our flag and the values it represents, in justice, for justice.  Flag Day is a civic version of the Christian insight that all aspects of our lives make up the "righteousness" or "holiness" or "justice" we aim to bring as our "gifts at the altar."  No wonder we Americans need three more days to be ready for our Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ!  May the Holy Spirit who came to us at Pentecost, may the Trinity of last Sunday's feast day, lead me to see where I can be reconciled with, live better with, all the people in my world.

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