Today, the Feast of Corpus Christi I want to talk to you about The Body of Christ; The Host you receive in Holy Communion, Pornography and Drug Abuse.
The Body of Christ. Where is it? Yes, it is in the tabernacle and that is why we genuflect, we adore and we pray before it. We honour it. It is God in that Bread among us.
But the Body of Christ is also you and me. Jesus said "make your home in me as i make mine in you". As I make my home in you! Christ is in us as really and try as he is in that bread and wine. No we don't genuflect to each, we don't adore each other. We don't pray to one another. But we do or should do, honour and respect each other as much as we honour and respect that consecrated bread which is the Eucharist.
St Paul tells us in his second letter to the Corinthians 19 "Don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit…? You do not belong to yourselves but to God;0 he bought you for a price. So use your bodies for God's glory."
None of us here would dream of approaching that tabernacle, opening it and desecrating the sacred host that is in there or treating it with disrespect. Why? Because Christ is in that host. Likewise, I put it to you should none of us allow ourselves or another human person to be treated with disrespect or be dishonoured in any way. And for the same reason. Each person is the Body of Christ.
I want to highlight two ways in modern times, that some people disrespect and desecrate themselves and sometimes others as well. The first is through pornography and sexual misuse of ourselves and/ or others. The second is through drug misuse.
Pornography destroys relationships. It gives people ideas about sex, leading them to fantasise and then act out in isolation with themselves. People who watch pornography may say. " I do so in the privacy of my own room it is nothing to do with others." Is that what God gave them their gifts for? Sex is for loving, not for self-indulgence.
In many cases these people then go to their wives or husbands, boyfriends or girlfriends or someone they met just that night and act out those fantasies experimenting on that other, often to the total disgust of the other. It leads to treating the other as an object rather than a loved and respected human being.
And who are the people in these videos? Sometimes they are paid actors getting money for what they do, and with no respect for the dignity of their bodies. They must accept responsibility before God for what they are doing to themselves and others. But very often they are people who have been trafficked and forced into this occupation to make money for others. They are being held in captivity, their passports have been confiscated, even sometimes they are being fed drugs to make them addicts and to keep them dependent on their slave master for the drugs to cure their cravings.
I said the second thing I wanted to highlight was drug misuse. It is obvious that if I take these tablets or inject myself I am not honouring this body which God has given me as one of his greatest gifts - a body which as I said earlier is the dwelling place of God himself. I can also be putting my life in danger.
Within the week in London we have had 12 stabbings. Most of these are gang-related. And most gang activity is drug related.
So I want to say those middle class professionals who do cocaine at dinner parties, or whatever or wherever. If you were not buying this stuff, there would be no market for it and if there were was no market for it most of these killings would not be happening. You have blood on your hands.
Remember the last two weeks I spoke to you about God being like a great ocean of love in which we are swimming like a little fish? You are part of that ocean. You are that fish. You are part of God.
Imagine someone fills up a truck with toxic waste and drives it to the edge of that clear, clean blue sea and tips the whole lot in. As soon as they do so it contaminates the otherwise clear blue water. It is a toxic presence and it poisons everything around it. That is what someone who does not act with respect and give honour to their own body and the bodies of others does.
Recently, Pope Francis met the two leaders of South Sudan. He had got them together to talk Peace. When they arrived, he knelt and kissed their feet. This reminded them, if they had forgotten themselves, of their dignity as God's chosen ones, in whom God lives and through whom God wants to work.
"Do this in memory of me" Do what? Receive the consecrated bread, the Body of Christ here in the Church. Then leave and be the Body of Christ out there in the world.
Canon Pat Browne is Parish Priest at Holy Apostles church, Pimlico, central London and Roman Catholic Duty Priest in the Houses of Parliament.
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