Corpus Christi; June 14, 2020; Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a John 6: 51-58
It’s one thing to make a journey. It is quite another thing to make a journey that someone else directs. When we make our own journey, we know where we are going and how to get there. We have a rough idea of how long it will take, and where we might stop to rest along the way. When someone else is guiding our journey, much of it is unknown. All we know is the next step that is given to us. This is why making that kind of a journey requires trust.
Israel had to learn to trust the Lord as they made their journey to the promised land. God assured them that they would have a land of milk and honey. But how they would arrive there and how long it would take remained unknown. Yet God directed Israel each day, feeding them with manna, and eventually bringing them to their own homeland.
In the last few months, you and I have been given two journeys. We are in control of neither and much about them remains unknown. The first journey concerns the coronavirus. We know so little about this disease. It seems to target elderly people who are compromised, but we cannot explain why some young people in perfect health become infected with it and die. We do not know how long this virus remains on the surfaces on which it lands. We are not sure if people who have had the virus develop immunity nor how long that immunity might last. We continue to struggle how to find the right balance between isolating ourselves and gradually re-entering social circles.
The second journey that has been given to us emerged only in the last few weeks. It concerns racism in our society. Throughout our country, demonstrators are insisting that this cancer be removed from our country. Yet, what steps we need to take to reach that goal remain largely unknown. Obviously, we should increase dialogue between different races. But how is that possible when our neighborhoods and our social circles are largely separate from one another? It is likely that all of us unintentionally contribute to the racism around us. But how can we come to see what those unintentional contributions are, when for so long they have been invisible to us?
We are traveling on two journeys that we do not control and where much remains unknown. Yet, we believe that the God who loves us is guiding us. Like Israel, there are many threats around us as we make these journeys: seraph serpents and scorpions, parched and waterless lands. But those fearful things that surround us are not our destination. Life is our destination. Jesus promises us in today’s gospel that we who eat his body and drink his blood will have life because of him. As we gather together today to share the Eucharist, we must trust in Jesus’s words. Our destination is life. How we will get there, how long it will take, and how many times we will have to stop along the way remain unknown. But the One who leads us is not unknown. Our God is the One in whom we place our trust.