|The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XIII: ”The Obedience of a Humble Subject Following the Example of Jesus Christ” (third entry)
Kempis has Christ making the point to the disciple that if He, who is God, could take the humble form of a man and be subject to other men, then we followers of Him certainly should be willing to obey our superiors and submit our wills to theirs. Jesus set the example.
|Today’s Gospel reading: Jn 6:51-58
Appropriate for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, we hear proclaimed today the heart of the Bread of Life Discourse. Jesus is emphatic and earthy in His declaration that His Body and Blood must be consumed (“gnawed”) to gain eternal life. Scandalous to His hearers, we find out in the next few verses that, “As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him” (Jn 6:66).
When we consider Jesus’ humility, we generally think of it in terms of the Second Person of the Trinity becoming man — God stooping very low, allowing Himself to be subject to creatures to the point of even being derided, mocked, and killed by them. This is true, of course:
[T]hough he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. (Phil 2:6)
But this does not go far enough in appreciating Christ’s humility. Jesus promised in His last words in Matthew:
I am with you always, until the end of the age. (Mt 28:20)
Of course, Jesus is with us in many ways, to this day and until the end of time: in the Church, in Scripture, in our hearts, and in others. But in no way is He with us more profoundly than in the Eucharist. He takes the form of food prepared by the hands of human persons to give Himself to us in an unprecedented, miraculous way. He desires that we always have Him, really and truly present, in our midst and even inside of us, so that He might transform us into Himself.
In so doing, He once more, and for all time, subjects Himself to us once again. For reverence, true, but for humiliation as well. While some hearts are well-prepared to receive Jesus into them in Holy Communion, many are not, even to the point of receiving this awesome gift in the state of mortal sin, adding sacrilege to their separated state. Some have even gone so far to desecrate the Sacred Species in defiance of God or even to be used in demonic rituals. The Lord knew all this would occur and yet still, out of His great love, gave Himself to us in this manner “par excellence.”
Do we have any excuse for pride when our Master, our Exemplar, shows us the way of true meekness, a way nearly incomprehensible to us? Let us often contemplate the lowliness that Christ asked us to imitate and offer many penances for the outrages committed against Him in the Blessed Sacrament. And may we never be party to such debasement (and if we have, get to sacramental Confession as soon as possible).
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. (Mt 11:29)
El Salvador Con La Eucaristía (1545-1550) by Vicente Juan Masip