Today we celebrate the most central TRUTH of our Catholic Faith. Today we celebrate that the Eucharist IS the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus – no longer just bread and wine, but in essence the very presence of Jesus. It is incredibly important for us to understand what we do when we celebrate the Eucharist. Without this understanding, yes Mass might seem boring or as some complain “I don’t get anything out of it.” From the beginning, believers in Jesus had no doubt as to the wondrousness of the gift they received in the Eucharist. Paul’s faith in this great mystery is clearly evident in today’s second reading. His description of Jesus’ great gift predates the evangelists who wrote the gospels.
So, let us understand that through the gift of himself in bread and wine, Jesus continues to be the food that sustains us, as well as the source of our communion with him and one another. Around the altar-table of the Eucharist, we remember his dying, we celebrate his life and we enter into the mystery of God’s salvific love. Other food we eat is assimilated into our bodies and becomes a part of us. But, when we are nourished by the Eucharist WE are assimilated into Jesus and thereby become a part of HIM!!
We cannot take for granted so great a gift and so profound a UNION. But recall the Israelites in the desert who became weary of the manna and quail and started longing for the food they ate while in captivity in Egypt. Do we, too, ever grow weary of the gift we have come to receive so routinely? Do we just go through the motions at Mass?
Perhaps if we were to cultivate a hunger in our hearts and souls – hunger that arises from the NEED for communion, a hunger prompted by prayer, a hunger that can be satisfied only by Jesus himself – this hunger would drive us to long for our next sacred meal at which we will be fed with the bread of the Word and the bread of Eucharist.
Included in the rite of ordination of priests is the directive: “Understand what you do; imitate that which you handle.” These words affirm the priests’ privilege and responsibility to be so intimately attuned to Jesus in the gift of the Eucharist that they become, in their words and in their works, true witnesses who encourage the faith of others. “Understand what you do.” These words also apply to YOU – the people in the pews whose privilege it is to partake of the Eucharist and whose responsibility it is to tend the hungers of humanity. Jesus’ charge to his own, “Give them some food yourselves,” continues to be the agenda of the Church. Having fed upon the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ, YOU are to flow forth from the sanctuary to inundate your neighborhoods, workplaces and schools with Christ so as to make an otherwise secular world sacred again. And that my brothers and sisters is what Fr. Mark and I mean when we talk about evangelization – all of us do it, not just the ordained!! May you understand what WE do every time Mass is celebrated! Join us in our Eucharistic procession today that begins at the end of the 12:30PM Mass. Celebrate a wondrous gift!!
Blessings and Peace on the Feast of Corpus Christi,