Corpus Christi Year C

     

     In just a few minutes when we approach the altar to receive Holy Communion, what will we see? What will we be thinking? What will we be holding in our hearts? How we answer these questions depends on what, or I should say, who we believe the Eucharist is.

     In today’s second reading St. Paul writes to the Christians living in Corinth reminding them that he is handing on the truth which was on handed on from Jesus, namely that it was Jesus who first took the bread and wine and made it His Body and Blood and commanded His disciples to do likewise. At the Last Supper Jesus issued a command saying “this is my body, which will be given for you: do this in memory of me,”[1] and so faithful to Christ’s command, we gather to celebrate the Eucharistic sacrifice He instituted “for our good and the good of all his Church.”[2] Today we are confronted by the truth that the Eucharist we share is truly the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. We are confronted with the truth that the bread and wine, which will be brought up in a few short moments, will ease to be bread and wine and through the power of Christ Himself will become His Body and Blood.

     Do you take Jesus at His word? Do you believe the Bible to be true? If as Christians we follow Jesus then we have no other option than to believe that the Eucharist is more than just a symbol or a remembrance. The only logical conclusion for one who listens to God’s Word is to recognize that the Eucharist is Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. “Since then He Himself declared and said of the Bread, This is my Body, who shall dare to doubt any longer? And since He Himself affirmed and said, This is My Blood, who shall ever hesitate saying that it is not His blood?[3]

     Friends, today’s feast of Corpus Christi, reminds us of the inestimable love God has for us, a love so great that He sent His only Son into this world to suffer and die for us and today He continues to bless us with the opportunity to share in that same sacrifice and thus to cooperate with His grace to attain our eternal salvation. Think about it for a second. As Christians we all profess that it is the cross of Christ which saves us, but have we ever stopped for a moment to think about how we tap into that saving power of Calvary? Without the Eucharist, how can we participate in that saving act? Without the Eucharist, isn’t Christ’s death on the cross just a moment on a timeline? “At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of his Body and Blood … in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the centuries until he should come again.”[4] Jesus invites us to participate in that saving act by participating in His passion, death and resurrection in an un-bloody manner here at Mass. The very same sacrifice on Calvary is made present here so that all of us can share in the same graces He won by his bloody death on Calvary.

     What a magnificent gift! “The Eucharist is not just a ritual meal; it is the shared prayer of the Church, in which the Lord prays together with us and gives us himself,”[5] and yet look at all the empty pews. So many people in our world are on a quest for God and He is right here. I bet if we were handing out gold or silver every Sunday, there would be a line from the altar to the arch and we would not have churches large enough or numerous enough to contain the multitudes that would be fighting to get inside. But our Lord is not content to give us merely earthly satisfaction; He wants to give us eternal life. If we need food to sustain our natural life, should we not also need food to sustain our spiritual life? Holy Communion gives us our spiritual food and so regardless of whether we feel like we are getting something out of Mass we know that by being here and receiving Jesus Himself, we are receiving the essential nourishment we need for our journey to heaven.

     At each Mass then bring your regrets, anxieties, fears, uneasiness, joys and gratitude and in the silence of your heart offer them to Christ. Then at Communion when you drink from the chalice you will literally raise the cup of salvation to your lips, just like the disciples. So when we approach the altar for Holy Communion, we should do so with the utmost reverence and presence of mind. For when we receive Christ in Holy Communion, Jesus comes to us in a most intimate way. He befriends us. So my friends as you receive the Lord in Holy Communion today, beg the Holy Spirit to open your hearts to that friendship. Jesus offers Himself to us as our nourishment. Turn to Him, receive Him frequently in the Holy Eucharist Come to Jesus truly present in the Blessed Sacrament and let Him strengthen you for this life and for the life to come.

[1] Lk 22:19

[2] Roman Missal Third Typical Edition of the English Language. Prayer at the Preparation of the Altar.

[3] St. Cyril of Jerusalem  Lecture 22 Chapter 4 paragraph 1. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/310122.htm

[4] Vatican Council II. Dogmatic Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, (4 December 1963) §47.At The Holy See. http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19631204_sacrosanctum-concilium_en.html

[5] Joseph Ratzinger Collected Works Vol 11 pg 534.

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