The Body and Blood of Christ…Sacrament and Church
Our yearly celebration of Corpus Christi—the Body and Blood of Christ is one of the last major celebrations for a while. I always like the reference that St. Paul continually uses to remind us that we are the Body of Christ, the church. When we come together, when we assemble for prayer or Mass, the Body of Christ becomes visible in us. I think of this every time I celebrate Mass and look out at all of you participating in this most sacred sacrament and mystery of faith.
Every Holy Thursday, when we commemorate the institution of the Holy Eucharist, we recall that moment when Jesus gave us His real presence under the form of bread and wine. In today's scripture passage from St. Mark’s Gospel the church wants us to reflect upon the fact that the Eucharist is the sacrifice of the new covenant established by Jesus. It is the memorial of Jesus’ offering of His human body on the cross to mend the broken relationship that humankind had with God. By His suffering and death, we are freed from sin and eternal death. It is a new covenant because it replaces the pact made with God to offer animal sacrifices as a sign of relationship with Him. Christ’s sacrifice was once and for all time and we reenact it whenever we celebrate Mass. It is our communal meal that represents the new bond that God has with His people and through the actions of His Son.
Each time as we prepare ourselves to celebrate Mass, we begin by calling to mind how important it is that we should be reconciled with one another. Our petition-responses: “Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy, Lord, have mercy,” should be more than words we ritually voice each week. It is our attempt to ask God's forgiveness for our sins and the grace we need to truly be reconciled with one another. One of the often-used petitions is to ask God that ‘He heal the wounds of sin and division.’ What we seek is what those closest to Jesus experienced at the Last Supper meal. They had a spirit of friendship and love that brought them together in a new way that bonded them together and forever. That’s what Eucharist does…it’s a bonding celebration that unites us totally with Christ and one another. We need Christ and we should need one another as brothers and sisters in faith. At our gatherings for Mass, we celebrate this bond that was begun at baptism and is nourished every time we receive Communion at Mass.
Despite our having to exercise ‘social-distancing’, we are spiritually brought together closer than ever could be possible otherwise. Again, I refer to St. Paul who taught that though the body has many parts…all are necessary for its proper functioning. So too for the Body of Christ, the Church. We need and depend upon one another for the ‘Body of Christ’ to properly function. Every one of us is needed and deemed to be a necessary member of this church-body.
As we continue to celebrate our Masses in the gymnasium let’s be reminded that it is not the place that makes the Eucharist possible but the power of the Holy Spirit and our presence and cooperation with that Divine being. When you attend your next Mass be sure to appreciate two wonderful things. First, that we gather in His name and second, that we do not do it alone. We are the Body of Christ and receive Him in the Eucharist. We attend and He nourishes!
Blessings, Fr. Mike