Corpus Christi, (Year C) 

‘Jesus made the crowds welcome …

… we are in a lonely place here.’ (Lk (:11-17)

It seems strange to put those words together: to speak of welcome and loneliness almost in the same breath.  JESUS in the midst of it all. 

And so, what can it mean?

Loneliness is a peculiar ‘friend’ – always somewhere on the horizon and sometimes much more nearly present to us.  When  we are small we can be too busy learning and growing to be conscious of it.  But then life begins to settle down … into ‘maturity’ and we discover that we are a mystery to ourselves; that we misunderstand and are in turn misunderstood, and thus we are exposed to this loneliness – never far away and often too too close to bear.

JESUS.  Yesterday was the feast of the Body and Blood of JESUS.  The Feast of thanksgiving to our bounteous Father and His co-eternal Son, for leaving us this gift.  Strange that it should call to mind welcome and loneliness.  JESUS gives Himself to us in a lonely place.  He welcomes us here to loneliness.  Seems strange … what is it that He wants us to see?

In St Matthew’s Gospel, while on the Cross, we read that JESUS ‘yielded up his spirit:’ in the loneliness of the Cross, having surrendered everything to the Father in love, He even had to give up, surrender His very breath, the Holy Spirit – so that it might be ours.

We are never alone.  Loneliness after all is a divine gift that we are invited to welcome.  What happens when we cannot?  It seems as though the consequences are potentially destructive.  By denying or trying to run away from this reality, I cut myself off from others; I become isolated; I become the centre of my own existence and there ceases to be any space in me to welcome others; my thoughts torment me and deceive me into believing that nobody knows me, nobody cares, nobody understands.  What happens?  I persuade myself that nobody experiences this emptiness that is at the core of my being .. this is a lonely place .. and now … I have become alone in it. I cannot face the loneliness, cannot accept it, but .. neither can I fill it – no matter how hard I try.

But JESUS wants us to see that here in this ‘lonely place’ He has preceded us; it is a place where He is … waiting to feed us with His very flesh and blood … welcoming us to be here.  We are not alone.  There is One who knows us intimately; knows how fearful a place this is, because we cannot see Him. … But.  … is it a fearful place?  Maybe after all, … it is a place of purity – a place of truth.  If JESUS is already there before us, waiting there to welcome us … and JESUS is Love … then this ‘lonely place’ is a place of love … and unconditional acceptance.

The feast of the Body and Blood of JESUS:  JESUS is our very life: it cost Him His own life and breath that you might truly and freely live; truly and freely love.  Do not be afraid.  Every time you come to Him to receive the gift of His life and His love in the Eucharist – then: every time .. He reaches and touches that loneliness within you, gently speaking to your heart:

‘I know you;

I love you;

Let me walk with you;

I am only longing to show you the way;

My precious, most beloved child …

Do not be afraid.’

St Thomas wrote of this Blessed Sacrament that ‘it was the greatest of the miracles he worked; and he left it as a unique consolation to those who were desolate at his departure.’  Remember in your moments of loneliness and desolation to come to Him here, and feast on His life, who is our strength and our song.