As we prepare to break ground on Sunday for our new permanent housing for the homeless at the Cathedral, the following is a note I have written for the day:
Some of you will remember that last year, as part of our celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi, we processed to the steps of the Cathedral and, using the consecrated Body of Christ, Fr Malloy proclaimed God’s blessing for the city of Denver. It’s a medieval tradition that comes from a time when people saw the Body of Christ as the most effective and sure blessing any person could receive. That feast recently passed again on our calendar without much solemnity or notice this year. Yet, I think, the Cathedral community is participating just as richly in the blessings of the Body of Christ yet again from the steps of the Cathedral.
Today, we will process out to ask for God’s blessing again. We will bless the ground on which the new Saint Francis Apartments at Cathedral Square will be built. We will again honor the Body of Christ in the way the Church has always been called to do – by lifting up the poor and seeing in them the promise of Christ’s very real Presence.
The Church maintains two truths. Christ is fully Present in the Sacraments and in the poor.
The Cathedral is committing to the work of a new Tabernacle – we will create a place of safety for the Body of Christ. It is imperative that we who seek Christ’s Presence see him revealed in those too easily ignored.
Every celebration of the mass is an act of faith in which our eyes see with the soul’s longing for God. We see and know Christ revealed in the simplest way, in Bread and Wine made life. The way we encounter those in need is as much an act of faith. Christ is revealed to faithful eyes. It is easy to scoff at the Body of Christ veiled beneath the form of simple bread. It is just as tempting to scoff at the Presence of Christ in someone who is too easy to dismiss because of poverty.
Yet, beneath the surface, waiting for faithful eyes to see, is new life – is the source of our salvation. In the Eucharist we receive Grace upon Grace. In serving those most in need we receive grace as well – we find that the space of relationship becomes hallowed ground where new life is born. In those relationships we find ourselves broken open and reformed with the gold of sympathy and genuine love filling in the cracks.
Whether we see or not, that grace, that genuine Presence is there – God’s promise is alive. Yet it is in receiving that Communion fires in us new hope. It is in reaching out our hand in love to one whom others avoid that hope breaks us open for grace to find a home. Beneath lowly forms God makes Himself known.
Each Sunday, as Communions are administered, I kneel in my stall. Recently, I was powerfully struck that I was kneeling before the Christ at the Altar and I was also kneeling before the Body of the Faithful who came by one by one. The Christ before whom we kneel would, I think, welcome us kneeling before one another on occasion as we see within each other grace swelling and shining forth.
One of our most dedicated volunteers with the Women’s Homeless Initiative once related that hers is a ministry of small things. She provides newspapers to the women who stay with us on Monday nights. She hands out aspirin, makes coffee, folds pillowcases, and more. She also mentioned one powerful act of love (which she would not claim as such).
She talked of rubbing lotion onto the feet of the women – many of whom are on their feet all day long. I couldn’t help but be transported back to the moments when costly oil was being rubbed on the feet of Jesus and Judas complained. I could not help but think of the complaints of the money about to be spent on “expensive” housing for the homeless – a waste surely?
So often, the Christian sees a chance for love where others only see a need to be met or a disgrace to be ignored and in those moments, for those who are true of heart, adoration begets adoration, and love begets love. May we always have the courage to love and to see as God longs for us to see – with the eyes of faith.