The Body & Blood of Christ and Fathers Day

18 June 2006: Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ
Mark 14, 12-16.22-26

It is not at all strange that our life every week revolves around food and feasting. When I was a scholastic, I used to experiment on food. You see, Saturdays were called recollections --- when the cook is off-duty, we are left to re-collect all leftovers from the refrigerator. There is a sandwich I made which I liked very much. I have discovered it one hot summer afternoon. The refrigerator contained one ripe mango, an avocado and a red bell pepper.

First, I peeled and diced the mango and the red bell pepper. Added a siling labuyo and combined all of them with lemon or kalamansi juice. And I let stand. In cooking, when we allow some time often in room temperature, we allow the flavors to mix. I guess, this standing time tells us a lot about being in Sunday church and celebrating the body and blood of Christ.

You see, we are individually different. Some people are sweet like mangoes or hot as bell peppers or hotter like chili. Even members of a family are like ingredients in a cook book. You just can imagine how parents --- and dads --- feel when they have children with personalities they cannot understand. They struggle. They experiment. Worse, many of us are like left-over food: we stink with our sins and we are lazy like cold soup. But they Lord brought as together and hoped in us like a cook who believes that there is still something we can do with leftovers. But to do this needs sacrifice. The celebration of Corpus Christi means that every sacrifice, if we want to change or put some spice in our lives, is felt by our bodies. We are peeled, diced, sliced and perhaps like small bell peppers, our seeds and membranes have to be removed and finely chopped. Many of us here come broken and hurt and suffering. And here we are, marinating like meat, or like our simple salad, we are in our standing time. This is our pag-aalay: We are here to offer ourselves, our pain and our joys, together with our Lord Jesus, and He will make us holy. In other words, He will make us into sandwich.

Let’s go back to the sandwich. Then I found some bread slices and toasted them. I placed the avocado slice on top of it, and then placed leftover chicken or fish on top. Then I placed our salsa together. If you need some garnishing, chopped parsley will make it look delicious. I cut the sandwich into two and gave a slice to a fellow Jesuit. To bring people to eat together is what we do on Sunday mass. Or if you want to be theological, it is called table-fellowship. Or if you want to be in tune with our UP Parish fiesta theme, it is called pagbubuklod.

Now I make sandwiches for my housemates especially during rough times like the final exam period before the semester ends. The more you make more sandwiches, the more you bring people together. I think this is the reason why we have mass everywhere and in many occasions. Many masses are offered where there is pain and suffering --- for the sick, for the dead, for a country in crisis. Like my sandwiches during exam periods. I guess we realize that our faith gives us a lot of reasons to celebrate, the time when we have give our hearts some food in order for it to be strong when it bleeds. Take for example, coffee time or our weekly unwinding. It is a time when we anchor ourselves in the appreciation of our own dignity as God has given us, and then we develop that an appreciation of the aspirations, potentials and dignity of others. On the other hand, it is in risky business, in our painful and trying times, in the risks that we take, that we discover the abilities that we have and the beauty that we are. Here we must put to heart that our Christianity is not a gloomy religion but a happy one. A religion that knows how to celebrate. A religion that revolves around hope --- yes, around sandwiches made from leftovers. Our fiesta calls it, pagdiriwang.

I guess, this is why we celebrate Fathers Day --- or Mothers Day for that matter. Imagine, making sandwiches out of our eccentricities. All I know is this: I have brought my parents --- and my Dad --- pain. One Christmas, my Dad cried because I was somewhere else on his birthday. But he has made a good sandwich out of me nevertheless.

Oh, by the way, parenting has no cookbook.

*some or our Jesuit Juniors: Alvin SJ, Ronnie SJ and Charles SJ. They used to be my prenovices.

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