Ex 24:3-8; Heb 9:11-15; Mk 14:12-16, 22-26
Fr. Apalisok in one of his books on homily told a story about a bishop who was about the Eucharist by an educated skeptic, “How is it possible for bread and wine to change into the Body and Blood of Christ?” The bishop replied: “When you were born, you were not big and stout as now. How did you grow? What you ate is changed into flesh and blood, which is a miracle. Now, could God not perform a miracle just as nature does?”
The skeptic asked again, “How is it possible for all of Jesus Christ to be present in such a small host?” The bishop replied, “You see the vast landscape before you. Yet your very small eye can take it all in. So it is possible for all of Jesus Christ to be in one small Host.”
“How can the same Jesus Christ be found in all consecrated Hosts?” The bishop answered: ”There is nothing impossible with God. This answer should suffice, but nature can also reply. Break a mirror in many pieces and each one will reflect the same image reflected by the entire mirror. Thus, Jesus Christ is contained in all consecrated Hosts and in each fragment of them.”
Today, we are celebrating the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ or the Feast of Corpus Christi. We heard based on the gospel that Jesus sent two of His disciples to prepare the room for the Last Supper. He did not give them any street address but simple told them to follow a man carrying a water jar. Jewish women normally carried water jars. So the sight of a man carrying a jar would be unusual and easily recognizable. Jesus may have been deliberately vague about identifying the location. So Judas would not know the meeting place and bring the soldiers to arrest Him. Jesus wanted this meal in security and peace, for it would have worldwide and lasting significance (from the homily book, Go Tell Everyone p. 34). In my own reflection, this place is used in order to make this Eucharistic institution a solemn one. It was in this upper room that Jesus Christ instituted the Eucharist. We based our doctrine of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in this passage – the center of our Catholic faith.
Jesus said, “Take this, this is my body…this is my blood…” (vv.22-24). He did not say, “Take this, this is the symbol of my body…this is the symbol of my blood,” as what others believe. We believe that we eat the real Body of Christ and drink the real Blood of Christ under the appearance of bread and wine. We might be suspected as cannibals, but it was Jesus Christ who commanded us to do so.
If it were a mere human being who had uttered the words, “This is my body,” and “This is the cup of my blood,” over a piece of bread and a cup of wine, the said bread and wine would have remain as such. But it was Jesus, the very Son of God who uttered it clearly and explicitly in the Last Supper. We call this as transubstantiation, that is, the substance of the bread and wine has been changed in consecration into the Body and Blood of Christ. So in this case, Christ is really present in the Eucharist that we are celebrating.
A priest shared in his homily that this doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, there are many beautiful devotions which come to love as a boy in his parish and until now have continued to nourish his spiritual life as a priest. Like for example: the Holy Sacrifice of the mass, Holy Hour and Benediction, Visiting the Blessed Sacrament, Solemn Viaticum for the sick which he cherished most and I too.
I want to share with you some of my experiences and observations with regards to participation in the Eucharistic celebration. In the past, some catechists, some priests and retreat master told that it is a sin against the Mass wearing short pants and sleeveless during Mass. For me, we can afford to wear beautiful, presentable and decent dresses when we go to parties, how much in the mass where we are going to meet Jesus Christ and receive Him. In the past, it was a sin to receive communion by the hand, today it is already allowed. It was also a sin to receive communion from a lay minister instead of the priest, now it is already allowed. In the past, it was a sin not to go to confession before receiving communion, but for me, it is good to go to confession first especially if you are committing a big sin. It was sin of not fasting exactly one hour before communion. It was a sin before of not kneeling and bowing during consecration. A friend told me that his grandmother felt him guilty to death by threatening him with fire of hell for not brushing his teeth before going to Mass and others.
Whether these claims are true or not, what is important is to make ourselves to receive Jesus Christ. If we receive Him, we assimilate His life, His doctrine and His love. It means to acquire His way of thinking, to become like Christ.
To end this, let us reflect on the words of St. Justin: “The Eucharist is the moment in which the Christians help the orphans and widows, the sick, the poor, the prisoners…in a word, those in need.” Then, let us ask ourselves these questions: Is it Christian to participate in the Eucharist without sharing what we have to others? What can you say of a person who receives communion and yet pays his employees half the minimum wage?
See Today’s Readings: Cycle B