Crushed by Rachel Flanagan

“Crushed Cans” by randomwire is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Why do bad things happen to good people? This is a question everyone asks at one point or another in their life. I think I’m a good person and today a bad thing happened to me. I was minding my own business (actually doing something really good – delivering snacks and game materials for a service camp) and someone who wasn’t looking dumped a vase of old smelly flower water out right over me. So now I’m all wet  and my outfit and shoes smell today at the office, and it’s not my fault. I didn’t deserve that.

A lot of people are going through some tough stuff, way worse than getting a little soggy and dirty. A friend of mine got into a car accident yesterday and banged up her car. The mother of another friend of mine is battling cancer. Maybe you’re going through something tough – parents getting divorced, grieving the loss of a loved one. Or maybe you’ve been injured doing your favorite sport and you don’t know if you’ll ever get to play again. Whenever we go through a tough experience, it’s easy to feel abandoned. Like God doesn’t care. It’s easy to feel crushed. 

The Bible is full of people feeling crushed. The psalms usually begin with a “lamentation” (essentially a complaint to God – I am crushed, my enemies surround me.  But usually the darkness is followed by light. God does something and the lamentation turns into an exultation (praising and thanking God). When we are surrounded by darkness in our own life, we can begin to look for the light. We can have trust in God that he will make something good come out of even the most desolate situations.

Jesus showed us God’s ability to bring light from darkness through Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Jesus was a good person – the best person in fact – perfect, sinless, God himself. And something bad happened to him. He was beaten and crucified. His body was broken, his blood poured out. He was – in an extreme sense – crushed. The night before this happened, Jesus had even explained to the disciples that this was going to happen. He held up bread, broke it, and said “This is my body”. He held up a cup of wine and said “This is my blood”. He told them to eat and drink and do this in memory of him.

Why bread? Why wine? Archbishop Fulton Sheen said it’s because both have to be crushed to be life-giving. A seed has to die for a plant to grow. The grain of wheat has to be struck and ground into flour. Grapes have to be crushed and pressed to create wine.  The grain and the grapes are given “new life” in a sense.

So this Sunday when you receive the Body and Blood of Christ; not a symbol but his very presence here on earth, remember that Jesus was “pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our sin (Isaiah 53:5)”. And out of that suffering, God brought new life.  However you may be pressed or crushed right now, God can bring new life from your suffering. Especially when we unite our suffering to Jesus’ in the Mass and receive new life in the Eucharist. Well done, Lord, with giving us this Sacramental experience of your presence – you really crushed it! (pun intended).

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