Body and Blood of Christ

The Introduction 

A friend was confined to a nursing home by a serious stroke. After twenty-five years of being a daily mass-goer, he spent long weeks without being able to participate in the Mass. Though it seemed to many that he had worse things to worry about, this was the source of his greatest unhappiness. So finally his friends smuggled in a priest to celebrate Mass around his bed.

All went well until we reached time for communion. When the priest offered my sick friend the cup, he looked up apprehensively from his bed. The doctor had warned him not to drink any liquid that was not artificially thickened, or he could choke to death. Though the situation wasn’t exactly covered by canon law, without the slightest deliberation the priest added some of the powered thickening agent to the cup. Together, we drank from the common cup, the precious Blood now considerably thicker than water.

The Feast we celebrate today isn’t just about the bread and wine we share in Eucharist, but the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ we are to one another. We share one cup, one life, one suffering, and one victory. No Eucharist I’ve ever shared was more foul to drink or more a sign of our radical unity in Christ, than that thickened cup in the nursing home. It helped us all see our wonderful sacrament more clearly.

How does the Eucharist enable you to participate in the unity of Christ?

God calls us to be a holy people. We respond with a life attentive to prayer, scripture and sacrament. We also reply by consecrating every day to the work of the Spirit. Begin each day by invoking the Spirit’s guidance.

The Scripture (Mark 14: 22-25 The Lord’s Supper)

In the course of their meal, having taken and blessed the bread, he broke it and gave it to them. Then he said, “Take, this is my body”. Taking the cup, he gave it to them, thanking God, and they all drank from it. He said, “This is my blood, God’s new covenant, poured out for all people. I’ll not be drinking wine again until the new day when I drink it in the kingdom of God”.

The Story – The Work of the People

As a lover of words, I was fascinated to learn that the root of the word liturgy comes from Latin for ‘work of the people’. What an amazing insight that brings to the central ritual of Christianity. Breaking bread with fellow Christians, remembering Christ, and sharing in his body and blood are actions that early Christians actually considered their work.

And what is work? Work has its roots in the Greek word for ‘activity’. Thus the liturgy is the activity of the people – that means you and I. It is something we are charged to do. We must take, eat, and remember Christ’s life. This is each Christian’s responsibility.

It is our job to remember Christ in the activity of sharing a meal in his name, and it is our job to remember that we have a covenant with God that we will be God’s people and do God’s work, which as Jesus tells us today is to take and eat his body and blood and become one with Christ.

As Christians there’s no getting out of this work, but those who’ve been at it for a while say the benefits are worth it.

The Reflection

I just did a survey of the priests in my diocese and 97 percent of them agreed with the statement: The Eucharist is the centre of my life. As a priest, our lives are centred on the Eucharist. The Mass is our most important ministry and the focus of our spiritual lives.

When I ask people why they converted to Catholicism or why they stay as Catholics, people often mention the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. There is a deep connection between the assembly and the eucharistic Christ, which transcends human description. The person of Jesus Christ, truly present in the Eucharist, is the glue that holds us together. Around the table of the Lord, we are one, and we are given a taste of heaven.

The Commissioning

Keep us alert to your presence, O God.
In the early morning, may we know your Spirit is with us.
In the heat of the day, in the midst of our activities, may we realise that you stay with us.
At the end of the day, as we come to rest, may we give thanks that you will never leave us.

GPBS © (2024)


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