Friday, May 16, 2008
“Jesus said, ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’” (John 6:51)
“SOUL-SURFING” – May 25, 2008
The Body and Blood of Christ
Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC
Today’s annual Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, called the Feast of Corpus Christi in an earlier day, reminds us once again of a truth celebrated every time we gather for Eucharist but often forgotten so quickly afterward: Jesus is our daily bread. He promises us all that we need to sustain us day by day in body, mind and spirit. Yet how often we distrust that promise, content, rather, to rely upon our own paltry resources. Let the story of one man’s radical reliance upon God’s providence serve to illustrate:
“A successful Christian businessman was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over his business. Instead of choosing one of his directors or his children, he decided to do something different.
“He called all the young executives in his company together. He said, ‘It is time for me to step down and to choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you.’ The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued. ‘I am going to give each one of you a seed today, one very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring and choose the next CEO.’
“A man named Jim was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost, and he planted the seed. Every day he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three, four, five weeks went by, still nothing.
“By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn't have a plant, and he felt like a failure. Six months went by: still nothing in Jim's pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn't say anything to his colleagues, however. He just kept watering and fertilizing the soil. He so wanted the seed to grow.
“Finally, a year had passed, and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection. Jim told his wife that he wasn't going to take an empty pot. But she told him to be honest about what happened.
“Jim felt sick to his stomach. It was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right.
“So, he took his empty pot to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful, in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor, and many of his colleagues laughed. Only a few felt sorry for him.
“When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives. Jim just tried to hide in the back. ‘My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown,’ said the CEO. ‘Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!’ It was then that the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot.
“He ordered the financial director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, ‘The CEO knows I'm a failure. Maybe he will have me fired!’ When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what happened to his seed.
“Jim told him the whole story.
“The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, ‘Behold, your next Chief Executive! His name is Jim!’ Jim couldn't believe it. The others said, ‘Jim couldn't even grow his seed. How could he be the new CEO?’
“Then the CEO said, ‘One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead. It was not possible for them to grow. All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that your seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive!" (Original source unknown)
In the gospel passage we hear today, “Jesus said, ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’” (John 6:51) Indeed, while Jesus is truly the food and drink we share so often at the table of the Eucharist, he is also the satisfaction of every hunger of body, mind and spirit throughout the long length of our days. When so often we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” we are asking the Father to give us Jesus in daily generous portions.
Jim, the young executive who eventually became the CEO, was the only one among the gaggle of contenders who maintained his integrity as all the others resorted to dishonest ingenuity. Jim alone held out his empty pot to God’s providence. And, in the end, what God grew in that pot was more lush and verdant than anything his contenders could match.
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