An author I recently read wrote about these Sundays in the latter part of spring as “spiritual spinach” evoking the image of Popeye and the spinach that gave him strength to overcome his enemy Bluto. With the help of eating spinach the weaker Popeye is able to overcome a seemingly insurmountable enemy in the big brute Bluto. These final Sundays of spring have us celebrating Pentecost, Holy Trinity and Corpus Christi (the Body and Blood of Christ) Sundays. In these Sundays we are given the strengthening gifts of fire, family and food to help us to overcome the enemies that we face in our daily lives. What seems to the eye to be ordinary is transformed by faith into something invincible.
On Pentecost Sunday we are offered the gift of the fire of the Spirit. We get a little spiritual fire in our bellies as our interior lives are strengthened through the gifts of the Spirit to help us to bear the fruit of justice in our exterior lives in the world. Pentecost helps us to realize that we do not fight our spiritual battles alone but that the Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness and we can do spiritual battle with the strength of God to right the wrongs that we witness in the world. Through the fire of the Spirit we are transformed into persons of love, peace, joy, patience, endurance, courage, wisdom, knowledge, understanding, chastity, modesty, piety, generosity, gentleness and respect for the sacred. What a difference we can make when strengthenedand transformed by those gifts.
On Trinity Sunday we enter into the mystery of the inner depths of God and see the hidden power of love to overcome the enemies of division, hatred and violence that afflict our world. God is a family united in the bonds of love and always working together, Father and Son bound together in Spirit, united in their will to save those who are vulnerable and lost in the world. In the doctrine of the Trinity we see the gift that a family united in love can be to those who face the everyday challenges of our world. God sends us the grace of his love in sending us the gift of his Son and the Holy Spirit to mold our families into the image of the Holy Trinity. Holy families give us true and certain hope when facing the uncertainties of our world today.
Finally, before we return to Ordinary Sundays, we celebrate the Body and Blood of Christ, the spiritual food that God gives us to sustain us in our everyday life in this world. Jesus tells his disciples: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (Jn 6,51) What we consume makes a difference in how much life we have within us. God consumes us in his love through the fire of the Spirit on Pentecost and we are invited to consume the life of God on Corpus Christi Sunday. We are told by nutritionists that we are what we eat. If we are consuming the culture of death that the world in the media and in social media is offering us as our daily bread thenwe will find ourselves sickened on this toxic fare and weakened as persons. No amount of this bread will save us. In the Eucharist, Jesus offers himself as the bread of life. When Jesus becomes our daily, living bread then we will grow strong in life until that life within us is stronger than death and leads us to eternal life.
A beautiful image of the Eucharist that has been a part of our tradition is the image of the Pelican that feeds its young on its own life-blood by pricking its breast. Jesus is the Pelican that gives us his body and blood to help us to overcome death and live an abundant life. When we become consumers of life then we will find that even death has lost its sting. In the Eucharist, Jesus shares with us his divine life and love, offering a sacrifice of self that feeds us and nourishes us in love. Corpus Christi Sunday causes us to pause and to reflect upon what we are consuming as our daily bread. Are we feeding upon the sickly death and darkness of the world of fleshand disordered desires that takes away our power and strength and makes us vulnerable to an eternal death or do we recognize the gift that God is offering us in Jesus our Eucharistic bread that empowers us to live a full and abundant life? The Eucharist is true food for life. Eat well and live. Why would we spend our life consuming that which does not feed our souls and give us life?!