Sunday, June 14, 2020

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi Year A, June 14, 2020-“The Eucharist. A Body broken for a broken People”

From A Catholic Moment;

In an ever changing world, the Eucharist is a constant reminder of the great reality of God’s unchanging love (Mother Teresa).
The mystery of the Eucharist is the mystery of the God who journeys with his people in their wilderness experience in order to lead them into the promised land. The Eucharist which is the last gift Christ gave to his followers is an imprint of his perpetual presence among them. Thus the Eucharist became, not just a meal to be shared but a pledge of his constant presence among his people and a seal of an eternal covenant.
The solemnity of Corpus Christi is an invitation to all to renew our love for Christ present in the Eucharist and to perpetuate his presence in the world by becoming what we receive.

FIRST READING: Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a
The liberation of the Israelites from the Egypt of slavery did not carry with it a direct visa into the promised land. Knowing how stubborn the people are, God chose to subject them to a long period of suffering intended not as an arbitrary punishment but as a means to purify them and prepare them to be worthy of the promised land.
Wandering in the desert for forty years was such a horrible experience for the people to the point that they even desired to go back to Egypt. It was a hard time filled with murmuring and rebellion against God and Moses. But above all, it was a moment that they experienced the extraordinary love of God in all its indices and varieties.
The book of Deuteronomy which is the fifth and the last book of the Torah contains series of instructions from Moses preparing them on how they should behave even as they drew closer to the promised land.
The passage today is meant to take them back to the memory lane so as to keep track of all the Lord has done for them for the past forty years:
“Remember how the Lord has guided you for forty years in the desert…”
‘Remember though He afflicted you but He provided manna for you, a food neither you nor your fathers knew about’
‘Remember and do not forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt and out of slavery’
‘Remember how He saved you from the terrible desert with seraph serpents and scorpions’
‘Remember in the parched and waterless ground, He brought water for you from the flint of rock’
‘Just remember, and never you forget’
This litany of reminder may appear as an exaggerated emphasis, but in fact it expresses the type of audience that Moses was addressing to.
In reference to today’s feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, the call to “Remember,” and “Do not forget,” refers to the gift of the manna which is a prototype of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is all about the memorial of Jesus’ self-gift at the Last Supper and on the Cross; a memorial that is reenacted and relived every moment it is celebrated.

SECOND READING: 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 
The Jewish passover is dotted with the blessing of four cups which are presented as acts of blessing and thanksgiving for God’s promise of (Ex. 6:6-8) and the deliverance of his people from Egypt (Ex. 12-14). The blessing range from the first cup of sanctification (kaddush) to the last cup of praise and thanksgiving (hallel). In the passover meal, all who are present share in the bread and the cup. Thus Paul speaks of the One and true Bread as the Body of Christ. Though the body of Christ here refers to both the Eucharist bread and extensively as the mystical body of the Christ, the Church. Thus, the Eucharistic bread is the model of the Church’s unity.
Paul’s emphasis on the Eucharist in reference to the community of faith was spurred by the ill-mannered and rude attitudes of some members of the community of Corinth with regards to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. So, Paul was trying to make them behave in the manner and likeness of Christ whom they share: “the cup of blessing is a sharing in the Blood of Christ, and the bread we break is a sharing in the Body of Christ.” There is no better language for Paul to express the true meaning of the Eucharist order than its reference to the unity of the Church: “Because there is one Bread, we who are many are one Body because we all partake of the one Bread” (1 Cor 10: -17). Thus, the Eucharist is a sacrament of unity.

GOSPEL: John 6:51-58
This passage is the most detailed teaching on the Eucharistic in the whole of the New Testament. John who though did not record the Eucharistic meal of the last supper like the synoptic evangelists, offers the most detailed and comprehensive teaching about the Eucharist: “the living Bread that came down from Heaven”. In this verse, John links Jesus with the manna in the wilderness as mentioned in the First Reading.Thus Eucharistic like the manna presents the image of a God who feeds his people. The Israelites were fed with manna (a corruptible food) to sustain them on their journey into the promised land. The ‘new Israelites’, the people of the new and everlasting are fed with Christ present in body, soul and divinity in order to sustain them on their pilgrimage to heaven. The manna sustained the people during their wandering in the desert but eventually, they died.  But Jesus the true manna from Heaven gives everlasting Life: “One who eats this Bread will live forever” (John 6:58). Hence, the participation of the believers in the body and blood of Christ seals their relationship with Christ and with one another.
John who presents this page of the gospel affirms that the Eucharist is an indispensable sacrament of unity with Christ. It not only makes Christ present in the heart of the one who receives Him, but it is equally a pledge for eternal life: “I will raise him up on the last day” (v.54); and he will live forever” (v.58).

One of the most important rituals at the table of the Eucharist is the fraction of the bread. For communion to take place, the bread must be broken. Thus the Eucharist is the mystery of Christ who comes to us broken in order to heal our broken lives so that we too can become broken to heal the brokenness of others.
Therefore the mystery we celebrate today does not call for high standard theological discourse. It is self-explanatory. It is simply a mystery of love made visible in the total self-giving of Christ to his people. He gave and gave and gave until there was nothing left to give again.
In the Eucharist, his body is broken and his blood dripped and given to us so that we may live. In other words his body and blood nourish and sustain us.
One of the emotional moments I experience during mass is whenever I have to break the bread. I always feel like shading tears. There I feel so great a mystery of God’s love; the mystery of total self-giving. And knowing how unworthy I am, I wonder why God has to allow himself to be broken by mere mortal like me. He says, ‘take and eat’, and I smash him and swallow. What more do I want from him? The thought of this mystery spurs me to always renew my love for him, and I ask; who else will take my time? Whom will I give my attention? Who is worthy of my life except him? How can I stop loving him? If I don’t make him my friend, of what use then is my life? What else will I gain in this life if I don’t give my life to him who first gave his life for me?
Let us not seek to understand the mystery of the body and blood of Christ aside the notion that it is the mystery of total self-giving born out of love.
We do not deserve to eat him and yet he says, ‘take and eat.’
We do not merit to drink him and still he says, ‘take and drink’ for a covenant with you and for the remission of your sins.
Certainly it is not for nothing that he gives us himself broken. We are called to relive the Eucharistic moment by offering ourselves as bread for others. He offered himself to us totally and unreservedly so that we may eat and be satisfied and have life in us. Therefore our Eucharistic communion in him and with him cannot be complete if we don’t offer ourselves as bread to our brothers and sisters. The same way we smash him in our mouth and savour the sweetness of his presence is the same way we must be smashed and savoured by our brothers and sisters especially those who are less privileged and the abandoned. Our bodies must be broken and be shared in the service of our brethren. When we truly receive Christ in us, we must be propelled into action of self giving to others too.
We need to become Christ bearers: If we are communicants, we must also become Christ-bearers. By receiving him, we become a living tabernacle of his perpetual presence in the world, and like Mary, we must harbour him in the ‘womb of our souls’ with the duty of conveying him to others starting from our homes, then to our workplaces, in the Church and the society at large by living a life of love, mercy, forgiveness and sacrificial services.
We need to be signs of communion too: We cannot commune with Christ while remaining agents of discord. Our bond with Christ should strengthen our bond with others. In communion we are attached to a chain of contact with Christ which must be extended to the other.
So can we be courageous enough today to tell someone: ‘take, this is my body given for you. This is my blood shed for you.’ This is how we become what we receive. This is how the brokenness of Christ become our brokenness.



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