Food in a Deserted Place
(Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ: Genesis 14:18-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Luke 19:11-17)
La Salette is a remote spot in the lower French Alps. Whereas millions of pilgrims visit Lourdes each year, only some 250,000 come to this mountain Shrine, and then mostly in the spring and summer. Otherwise, it is quite a deserted place.
That was certainly the case on September 19, 1846. A handful of persons, including the two children, Maximin Giraud and Mélanie Calvat, were minding cattle or mowing hay. From where they had their simple meal of bread and cheese, Maximin and Mélanie could see no one else.
Then, suddenly, a Beautiful Lady was there!
She spoke, among other things, of other deserted places—the churches. During the French Revolution roughly 50 years earlier, France had become fiercely anti-Catholic. Times had changed since then, but the effects were still felt, and the nominally Catholic population retained a certain hostility toward religion.
Every now and then people leave the Catholic Church because of a conflict, or scandals, or rejection of Church teaching, etc. In so doing, they deprive themselves of the Eucharist. Today’s readings make it very clear how essential the Eucharist is to our Catholic Christian way of life. In both theory and practice, it is hard to imagine one without the other. Without the Eucharist, we find ourselves truly in a deserted place.
One of the longer Psalms describes a scene of persons wandering in a desert, hungry and thirsty. Finally they cry out to the Lord, who rescues them and leads them to a city. This portion of the Psalm concludes:
“Let them thank the Lord for his love,
for the wonders he does for men:
for he satisfies the thirsty soul;
he fills the hungry with good things.” (Ps. 107: 8-9)
Besides the readings, today’s Liturgy includes a Sequence, a poem written over 750 years ago by St. Thomas Aquinas when this Feast was first established. It echoes those same sentiments of gratitude for the goodness shown us in the gift of the Eucharist.
In the Mass, Christ blesses us and fills us with very good things indeed. Why should anyone prefer the deserted place?