This the world Jesus comes to, and where he lives among us in the most holy Sacrament of his Body and Blood. In the slums of Rio de Janeiro, desperate men and hopeless women sell themselves for very little. But they are still human, and they still hope, in some way, that there is a God and that He loves them. There is still much Christianity here in Brazil, much that globalized secularism has not yet extinguished. The local Corpus Christi procession passed by our shelter this morning, with clouds of incense indicating the canopied Blessed Sacrament, throngs of people, and of course a big truck in the middle of it all with a rock band pounding out tunes to the glory of God. Many passersby asked me for a blessing as I stood on the doorstep with a few of our homeless women.
Coming in from Rio’s steaming streets today, into the cool darkness of the Cathedral, we will fall on our knees before the Sacrament. Pope Benedict explains why Catholics kneel when we pray: “we prostrate ourselves before the One who stooped down to us, who gave his life for us…. We prostrate ourselves before a God who first bent over man like the Good Samaritan to assist him and restore his life. He knelt before us to wash our dirty feet.” We kneel to Him who first knelt to us! Jesus continues to bow before us, becoming the humblest little piece of bread, so that in our littleness we can receive his infinite greatness. God and man bow to each other, in mutual submission, even though He is everything and we are as nothing compared to Him. Pope Benedict concludes: “Those who bow to Jesus cannot and must not prostrate themselves before any earthly authority, however powerful.” It would be an injustice to completely submit to any earthly power, because no earthly power can properly receive our submission. Only Christ, because he completely submits to us. Only absolute love can receive absolute submission.