Gen 14:18-20; 1Cor 11:23-26; Luke 9:11-17
“We are what we eat,” as the saying goes. It is because we eat the food, the food may become a part of us, a part of our flesh.
Actually, whenever we have celebrations, let’s say, birthday, wedding anniversary or fiesta and foundation anniversaries, it is always associated with food. We even entertain our visitors by offering them food to eat. Whenever we want to thank people, we eat meal with them. We give them a blowout.
In the same way, Jesus knew that soon He will leave his disciples and go back to His father and so He had a special meal with them. What He did on the first Holy Thursday was He gave a dispedida meal (farewell meal) to His followers and showed them how to celebrate the important part of the Mass, since today we are celebrating the Feast of Corpus Christi or the feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the Holy Mass. He showed how to get Him to come and be with them in a very special way inside the bread and wine of the Eucharist.
Fr. Mihalic said that this is a very bright idea of Jesus. Jesus knew he would go back home to heaven but he wanted some way by which he could still stay very closely to his friends and followers. He chose to be something they needed and used daily and that is, their daily food: bread. This was very clever because when they ate bread, it turned into their own flesh. It became part of them. In the same, Jesus inside that consecrated bread became part of them and them of Him. We cannot get closer to some than food does when we eat it. It becomes part of us.
We cannot live without food. Jesus says the same about the Eucharist in the gospel of St. John: “If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man, you will not have life in yourselves,” (6:53).
Catholic churches always have altars in them. The altar is always built like a large table and all of us are gathered around it just as the disciples were gathered around Jesus at the Last Supper. Fr. Felix Link, in his homily book, mentioned this unusual door of a Church in Germany designed by an artist. He divided the door into four panels. Each panel depicts several symbols referring to a gospel event. The first panel depicts six jars, referring to the miracle at Cana where Jesus changed water into wine. The second panel depicts five loaves and two fish, as what our gospel told to us. This referring to the miracle Jesus performed at Capernaum where Jesus multiplied loaves and fish. The third panel depicts thirteen people seated at a table, referring to a last Supper in Jerusalem. Then last panel depicts three people seated at a table referring to the Easter supper Jesus ate at Emmaus with two of his disciples.
The artist chose these four events, but particularly the Last Supper where His Twelve Apostles ate with Him, because they relate to the Mass. They relate to Jesus’ gift of Himself to us in the form of bread and wine.
The altar is the center of attention inside a Catholic Church. Most other Christian churches have no altars. They are just large halls which are used for prayer meetings and sermons. That is why we Catholics must remember that the main reason why we come to Mass on Sundays is not only to attend Mass but to celebrate a Mass with Jesus. We go to Mass not only because we want to hear the Word of God and the sermon of the priest but also that we want to go to Communion and receive Jesus in His body. As one priest said that to come to Mass and not go to communion, unless with reasonable cause, means that we are cheating ourselves, we are not getting everything, we came to get. Mass without communion is a slap in the face of Jesus. It is like going to someone’s house for a party and walking out just when the meal is being served. That is an insult to the people who invited us.
But there are things we did that were not supposed to happen when we celebrate the Mass. We receive the Body of Jesus unworthily because of the sins we committed. Like for example, couples who are not married in the church and yet they receive Jesus during Communion. Jesus said: “Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood unworthily is guilty of condemnation.” Another one is we use the consecrated bread as anting-anting (amulet) and many more.
So when we receive Jesus during communion, may I pose for suggestion: “When the priest or Eucharistic minister holds up the sacred host and says to you: “The Body of Christ,” try to realize, in a special way, what you receive, that this sacred Host is the living Body of Jesus. It is the same Jesus who was born in Bethlehem. It is the same Jesus who was nailed and died on the cross. It is the same Jesus who rose from the dead.
This can be done through faith, a living faith.
See Today’s Readings: Cycle B