Feast of Corpus Christi

 

Feast of Corpus Christi

The momentous happening we celebrate on the feast of Corpus Christi is our developed understanding of what Christ did at the Last Supper with his disciples, when He took bread and wine and said these incredible words:


“Take this all of you and eat of it for this is my Body which will be given up for you”
“Take this all of you and drink from it for this is the chalice of my blood which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.

                                                    Do this in memory of me.”

We do not celebrate this wondrous mystery with the joy and solemnity it merits in the sombre season of Holy Week. It seems right and fitting that we observe it as the concluding Solemnity of this rich period of the Liturgical Calendar.

Our celebration is the expression of our belief, that when Christ said these words at the ‘Last Supper,’ he meant us to take them literally, so that when our ordained priests pronounce these words of Christ, during the celebration of Mass, the bread and wine truly become the body and blood of Jesus, the Christ, the Word, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.

When we e receive Holy Communion at Mass, take Communion to the sick and housebound, reserve the Sacred Bread in our tabernacles and expose the Sacred Host for adoration we are obeying His instruction; ‘Do this in memory of me’ and continuing a tradition begun in apostolic times.

It is wonderful to remember that this great mystery along with all the other revelations was implicit in God’s Words: “Let there be Light.” which began the process of Creation with what scientists call ‘The big Bang’ or the ‘Original Flaring Forth,’ as Christians prefer to call the event. This massive explosion generated space and time, as well as all the matter and energy the Universe will ever need.

During the last few decades scientists have discovered much about how the Universe evolved and Earth’s Story. We, here on earth today, can now reflect on a fascinating 13.7-billion-year story that is still unfolding.
This is our story, the Epic of Evolution, which demonstrates that everything that exists is interdependent. All is one and integral to God’s design and plan initiated in those words: “Let there be light.”

Crucial to this story is the advent of human kind and our human struggle to know, to love and to serve our Creator.

More crucial still is God’s plan to empower, to support and save us humans from our failures, our self-seeking our obsessions, with power, wealth, greed and irresponsible sexual behaviour.

During his public life on earth Jesus made many references to his future intention. Perhaps the most direct was:

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My Flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” John 6:51

When he was questioned about this seemingly, preposterous statement he simply repeated it more forcibly.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. John 6:53-56

In their work following His Ascension, his return to heaven, we have evidence that Christ’s Apostles, disciples and followers understood the significance of that event in their last meal with Jesus the night before he died and of their success in promulgating the practice of gathering for ‘The Lord’s Supper.’

The writings of St. Paul provide this evidence. His letters were in circulation long before the Gospels were recorded and promulgated. In his first letter to the believers in Corinth he strongly criticises the way they were behaving at ‘The Lord’s Supper’ and instructs them in the true meaning of what they are doing when they gather for this ritual meal.


"For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, 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 the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.


Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. 1 Cor 11:23-30.

‘The Lord’s Supper’ or as we call it, ‘The Mass,’ or the ‘Holy Eucharist’ is an integral part of God’s plan for his creation. Through his life, passion and death Jesus became the scapegoat for all the sinfulness of the human race.

Through His resurrection he was the liberator who restored our relationship with God. When Jesus’ time on earth was ended, he not only sent the Holy Spirit to be an inward source of his love, light, wisdom and energy within us but appreciating our human need to see, hear, feel and touch, he provides for those who believe in him a visible, tangible Sacrament that encapsulates his whole mission on earth.


For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17

 

 Sr. Camilla, Sister of Mercy