Exodus 24:3-8; Ps 116:12-18; Hebrews 9:11-15; Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
Dear brothers and sisters, this Sunday’s solemn feast of Corpus Christi is another major tenant of our faith. Next to the understanding of three distinct persons in the one God, the Trinity we celebrated last Sunday, and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our salvation, this ongoing and daily miracle of Christ’s presence with us in the "breaking of the Bread" is critically important and little understood.
The shortest and clearest Biblical text comes from St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26: "I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after He had given thanks (to his Father), broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes," again.
Note the words around the consecration. There are sentences of instruction before and after the words of consecration. This action of Jesus at the Last Supper is overshadowed by his arrest, trial and death. So this feast was established after the faith became legal in the Roman Empire and the progressive worship of the real presence of Jesus in the consecrated Bread during the Middle Ages.
On this feast, we give special thanks and praise to God for this sublime ongoing presence of Jesus with us. I believe this is the greatest daily miracle of his presence with us. It is a daily multiplication of the loaves all over the world. For most people who attend daily Mass, we are having "breakfast" with Jesus before we go to work. In some places, on this Sunday, there is a solemn public procession, outside the church building. The (new) Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
"The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the (other 6) sacraments as ‘the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend.’ In the most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist ‘the Body and Blood, together, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.’ ‘This presence is called "real" – by which is not intended to exclude the other types of Christ’s presence as if they could not be "real" too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes Himself wholly and entirely present.’" (CCC 1374)
We often think of the Eucharist as a remembrance or memorial of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Yet it is so much more. It is like looking at different sides of a finely cut diamond in the sunlight. What I have been seeing may seem a bit unusual but as I have celebrated Mass almost every day for the last 45 years, I keep seeing different dimensions of what happens at Mass. This is perhaps a poor image yet I see the Mass as full service gas station at a big Sears department store. We get our car washed with the penitential rite at the beginning. Then we read from our scriptures, our cookbook for some new life recipes for the women. For us men they are our shop manuals to keep our life in good order. Then you bring the priest bread and wine. What does he do with them? He uses the formula Jesus used at the Last Supper and changes them into his own Body and Blood as food and forgiveness for us. Awesome!
Think more. Jesus was just born again on that altar. This is Christ’s Mass, Christmas. And he comes each day to bring us another one of his gifts. Yet, Jesus is our best gift. So Jesus fills up our gas tank with divine power and charges our body battery with his increase of God power. Then he sends us out into the world to be his hands and heart caring for others. The more we understand this and get others to understand it, the more Christ can change the world through us.
Jesus also shows us more dimensions. A little over a month ago as I was driving back to my residence after celebrating Mass and anointing people in a local hospital, I believe the Holy Spirit showed me that I had presided at the greatest bakery and Jesus was the best and free bread, our "bread of life." Amen! Are you ready? We are healed, fed, empowered and equipped. Let’s go team, radiating his joy to others.
+ Fr. Bob
(© 2015 Fr. Bob Hilz)