Corpus Christi thoughts
By Lissy Maruthanakuzhy
Nagpur: As the Catholic Church gets ready to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi on June 18, my mind goes back to a Sunday Mass I attended a few months ago.
I shared the pew with two women who I presumed were mother and daughter.
Their dress was simple but there was something in their demeanor that made me suspect if they were Catholics. The elderly woman did not exchange peace. She was hugging her purse all the time.
At communion time the young one got up and queued up with others and returned with great devotion. When she had sat down the elder one enquired whether she could also go. A parishioner who was behind them enquired whether they were Christians, to which the young one answered, “Of course.”
The elderly woman, with much hesitation, went ahead and received Communion and returned to the pew.
When the Mass was over I kept close to them as we came out of the church. Gently I asked them about their whereabouts.
The young one said they were not Christians, “but I come every Sunday for Mass and receive communion.” I was amazed.
She continued, “Because I know when I receive Jesus I am healed. See my mother, she was in bed for several weeks. Now she can walk.”
I was awestruck.
Their faith in Jesus touched me. Since my Hindi was poor, I took them across the road to our convent to explain about Faith, Mass, Communion and related things.
Their story was convincing. The mother had been ill for several weeks, unable to get up from bed. “A Christian woman visited us, read the Gospel and prayed with us, and sprinkled holy water over her. Slowly the mother recovered,” the daughter narrated. At this point the mother started sobbing. “The woman told us about Jesus and asked us to go to church. Since then I have been coming to Church. Mother came only today,” she said.
As we were going to the convent, we had met a lame young man at the church gate and the young woman gave him a coin from her meager collections. I was impressed. After hearing their story, I realized they lived out the Eucharist in their lives, reaching out to the poor, that many Catholics still learn to do.
That is why Pope Francis keeps challenging Christians to live out the Communion with Christ asking, “How do we experience the Eucharist? How do we live after our Sunday Mass?”
On Corpus Christi feast the Pope’s thoughts pierce my heart. His questions challenge me to become open to the needy and the oppressed around me.
Melanie Jean Juneam, a reporter, relates an incident in an article, about a nurse she read about.
“On her way to Church, this nurse stopped to help the victims of a car accident. She left after help arrived, but was covered in blood and dirt. Rather than wasting time by going home to change clothes, she decided to simply put the top on inside out to hide most the mess. Although she missed her own regular
Eucharist she just had time to make it to a nearby Mass at another Church. Immediately she felt self-conscious, ill at ease with the kind of attention she attracted but it was at the kiss of peace where she was actually stunned; people ignored her, refusing to make an eye contact or shake her hand. As an upstanding, well-known active member of her parish, she was shocked by their judgments about what type of person she was. Suddenly this care giving nurse realized how the poor, marginalized and needy feel every time they step inside a church.”
Pope Francis continues, “In the Eucharist Christ is always renewing his gift of self which he made on the cross. His whole life is an act of total sharing of self out of love.”
Does the Eucharist urge me to go out to the poor, the sick, the marginalized? Does it help me recognize in them the face of Jesus? Do I try to help, approach, pray for those in difficulty? Does the Eucharist increase my capacity to rejoice with those rejoice, cry with those who cry?
That makes me recall another experience on a weekday. After Communion, as I sat with closed eyes I heard some commotion around me. When I looked I saw two women: one obviously a non-Christian believer. Her face was very sad. She had received communion in hand and was taking it to the back pew where her husband sat. She wanted to share it with him. A Catholic woman, who saw her taking it, consumed the host.
After the Mass, when we came out of the church, I heard the man saying, “Yes. We wanted to share it.”
Later, we met them outside the church. They explained. “Our elder daughter is married for seven years. She has no issues. The second daughter is 30 years, but no proposals are clicking. The third daughter after her studies is searching for a job, attended several interviews, but nothing is coming through. There are many blocks in our family,” the man explained while his wife cried.
“We go to church in our village. When we are in the city we come here. We believe Jesus can remove the blocks and help us,” he added.
The poor and the suffering in India are discovering Jesus in their own way. And it seems the Divine Healer and comforter works out of the box – beyond Church and its rules and regulations.