Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

June 23, 2019

Frank McMorran.  You won’t recognize his name but he was my “Melchizedek” that cloudy, wet day in late-November of 2002.  I was out for a run that morning and decided to stop to see Frank at his home.  I knew he was nearing death and I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to be in his presence, to pray for him and bless him.  He was confined to bed with little strength to but to lay there and wait for death to come.  So after a short visit I said, “Before I go, Frank, I’ll give you a blessing.”  And without a pause, he said, “No. Kneel down.  It’s time for me to bless you.”  I knelt there beside his bed, and with a shaky, outstretched arm and with a voice stronger than I had heard in days, he poured forth his blessing upon me.  I cried.  He died a few days later.  He was my Melchizedek –  like the mysterious king who came to Abram, the father of all faith, and blessed him that day.  Melchizedek - not the king of any land or people or nation, but one who enters the story and is gone, never to appear again in scriptures or in recorded history.  He shows up, blesses Abram in the name of God and leaves, but was never forgotten.   

Generations later, the psalmist sang of him (“You are a priest forever in the line of Melchizedek”) enshrining the memory of that blessing so wonderfully and mysteriously given.  Many years later it would be the author of the Book of Hebrews who claimed this sacred lineage for Jesus, so as to help us understand Christ as the High Priest of all people and all times, of all nations and all generations.  

Melchizedek is remembered today, on this Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, so that we might never forget that we, too, are members of that mysterious, holy and living lineage - called to bestow blessing upon one another, the greatest and the least among us.   He is remembered so that we might recall blessings given us, blessings that multiplied many-fold, like five loaves of bread and two fish fed the thousands.  We remember Melchizedek so that we may never forget that blessings, like eternal life, come to us unmerited, not on the basis of our ancestry, but by the love of God. We remember him so that we might remember that the blessings of Eucharist are not just something we receive - but something that compels us to respond, as Abram did, as the disciples did.  We remember so that we may never be surprised by, or forget those moments when, out of nowhere, someone else in the line of Melchizedek reaches out and blesses us. 

We remember Melchizedek.  I remember Frank.  Who do you remember?  Who will remember you?


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