Sunday readings in brief: Corpus Christi
Gen 14:18-20; Ps 109(110); 1 Cor 11:23-26; Lk 9:11-17
Understanding the Eucharist
Dear friends, today we celebrate the Solemnity of Corpus Christ (the Body and Blood of Christ), which is the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the Centre of Christian life. It is the food for our faith journey established by Jesus himself, to keep us nourished until the heavenly banquet with him. This feast emphasizes the REAL PRESENCE of Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. To understand this feast, let us first explain what a Sacrament is. A sacrament is the visible sign of the invisible reality (CCC). This means that what we perceive by our physical senses is a sign and symbol of that ultimate reality that we can only perceive through faith.
Jesus established seven Sacraments that either impart or increase grace in our lives. In the first place, Jesus himself is the Sacrament of God the father in the world. “Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (Jn 14:9). Jesus came to manifest the true face of God the Father that the prophet was not able.
During his life and ministry, Jesus established the Sacrament of Baptism – Being born again by water and Spirit” (Jn 3:5, Mt 28:19), the Sacrament of Confirmation – the gift of the Holy Spirit who strengthens us to be witnesses of the resurrection (Acts 1:8). The sacrament of Reconciliation – reconciles us with God and neighbour (Jn 20:22-23). The Sacrament of Holy Auction heals and encourages the sick to hope in God (Mk 16:17-18).The Sacrament of Matrimony – that unites a man and a woman making them one (Mt 19:5-6) and the Sacrament of Holy Orders – that makes those elected to partake of the Holy Priesthood of Christ for the service of humanity (Mk 3:14-15).
The Sacrament of the Eucharist is the center of all the other sacraments. The establishment of this Sacrament was not a single event but rather was a continuous process that Jesus undertook from the very beginning of his ministry. His first miracle in Cana of Galilee was feeding people by transforming water into wine (Jh 2:7-9), in many occasions Jesus fed the people with physical bread but tried to explain to them about the everlasting bread that he was to give them (Mt 14:13-21; Mt 15:29-39; Jn 6). Finally, when his time came, Jesus called his disciples together and as they ate he gave them the Eucharist that will be his presence to them after he had been physically removed from them (Matthew 26:26–28; Mark 14:22–24; and Luke 22:17–20, 1 Cor 11:23-25), He then commanded them to do this always in his memory.
Dear friends, Jesus established the Eucharist so that he may remain with us always as our food for the Journey to heaven. We believe that Christ is truly present in the species of bread and wine that we offer, after the consecration prayer by the priest, who does it not in his capacity but with the priesthood of Christ that he has received through ordination. Christ himself transforms bread and wine into his own body and blood.
Our Christian faith is adorned with so much symbolism that helps us to perceive the realities that are not physical. Jesus explained to Nicodemus that the Spirit is like the wind and that he can only see his work. Just as Jesus came to reveal the Father to us, in the same way, he has left us the Sacraments that bring his graces to those who believe. “No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him” (Jn 1:18). Though in the Scriptures and the catechisms we can learn a lot about the sacraments, we cannot attain a full understanding of how they work. It is through faith that all becomes palpable to us. In the first reading, Melchizedek was a priest of God who offered sacrifices and blessings to Abraham.
Just the way our bodies need physical food to get stronger every day, our souls also need daily nourishment to remain strong. If we do not feed our souls they become weak and not able to produce spiritual fruits. Just as it is easy to notice someone who is physically starved, we also can easily tell someone whose soul has not been fed.
Dear friends, as we celebrate the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, I invite us to make efforts to keep our souls and spirits well fed just as we do all in our power to avoid starving our bodies.
Have a blessed feast.
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD
Sunday readings in brief: Corpus Christi