Song of God’s Body
Who is this alive from heaven, hidden
Beneath the Church’s bread,
Who comes in sacramental presence bidden
By ancient words,
More swift in love than the flight of birds
Homing high overhead?
Who is this so humbly clad, concealing
His reign of splendor within
A little thing of taste and touch, revealing
No beam of light
Unbearable to weakened sight
Since Adam’s primal sin?
This is One whose word is instant being:
“Come, fire, trees, and men,”
And bright bees swarm the orchard night for seeing.
His word is warm
To win from nothing or transform
Desert manna day by day descending
Prefigures better fare:
God’s house of bread receives the gift transcending
Man’s common need
For earthly aid with heaven’s deed,
A Child for children’s care.
Hold Him gently, gracious maid, and ponder
What angel words have brought;
Lift Him slowly, aged seer, and wonder
How souls will draw
New life from an Infant laid in straw
By heaven’s designing thought.
Desert place apart, the silence broken
By crowds He will not shun,
Who hear in strife the kingdom’s concord spoken
And feed their fill,
White sheep on a Galilean hill
Green from the April sun.
Bewildered by the loaves from nowhere, shaken
As a midnight tempest raves,
The twelve toil at the oars, feeling forsaken
On a windy sea,
Until His body, weightless, free,
Comes walking on the waves.
Capharnaum streets fill up with faces eager
For a bread-dispensing king.
He answers, “Do not work for food so meager
As to perish in use.”
But care and children sing excuse
To seek another thing.
“Unless you eat My flesh. . . .” Is this the raving
Of a lunatic in love
With strange ideas, or the Father’s plan for saving
A wretched race,
Blind but made to see His face
In lasting realms above?
Many follow Him no more, believing
Nothing of things never dreamed.
“Bread come down from heaven! What deceiving
Of foolish minds!”
And so the road from Cana winds
Where enemies have schemed.
It winds by troubled pools, where paralytics
Lie waiting to be healed,
By cloven words of legalistic critics,
Deep hidden holes of Herod the fox
And many a whitening field.
Thirsty, it seeks the next poor village fountain,
Then down to the depths of need,
Up the wild heights of the marvelous mountain.
Where dazzling white —
In closed conference with prophets of light —
He speaks of redemption’s deed.
Jerusalem, the prophets’ city, thriving
Yet soon thrown down in shame,
Receive your wagonloads of wheat arriving
Through many gates,
Million-grained, mill-ground weights
Bound for the baker’s flame.
Starlit dawn sees oven fires starting;
The vintner tells his toll:
This pascal feast will be the final parting
Of table friends
Whose Master breaks the bread that ends
Starvation of the soul.
“This is My Body, given for you.” Holding
This thing, no longer a thing,
Inner substance changed to Life infolding
Our lesser life,
He comes to conquer thwarting strife
And close salvation’s ring.
“Do this in commemoration of Me.” Repeating
This memorial act
Prolongs the sacrifice once offered, meeting
All ages of men,
Until the Lord shall come again
And show the Faith a fact.
His crossing change — the moment of consecration,
When priestly human breath
Renews the celebrating Priest’s oblation.
But what avails
The print of Caesar’s iron nails
If Christ be not risen from death?
Who is this inspired Stranger, walking
Beside His friends in flight,
Unrecognized on the road to Emmaus, talking
Of prophets plain?
They see when He breaks the bread again
And disappears from sight.
O Jesus, joy of hearts forever burning,
Your body glorified
Ascended from the Mount of Olives, yearning
To send us Him
Whose love surrounds the seraphim:
For this You lived and died.
And now all heaven sings in exaltation
To see unleavened bread
Become Your Being, fit for adoration:
“Come, touch the Word
And taste the Truth your ears have heard
And join your risen Head.”
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“Alas, I cannot find my God,” Man said
Blind with seeking, all but garroted
Borne up by priestly hands beyond the dark
The clean oblation of the harvest moon…
“Well, Father, my share of the farm has
been turned into gold.
I take it…