George A. Sprecace M.D., J.D., F.A.C.P. and Allergy Associates of New London, P.C.
www.asthma-drsprecace.com

WHAT'S RIGHT WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH #32


This Homily, by Father Anton, is the clearest exposition of the Holy Eucharist that I have encountered in over seven decades of attending Mass and receiving Holy Communion.

GS

My dear friends in Christ,

Today we honor and worship the "Lord's Body, broken and given for the salvation of all men, as food to sustain our life in the Spirit." The Eucharist is the eternal assurance of His presence among us. The celebration of this solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ was introduced into the Church calendar in 1264. Why do we need a feast of the Eucharist when every Sunday we celebrate the Eucharist? A feast like this provides us the opportunity to give God collective thanks for Christ’s abiding presence which is made visible in the Eucharist. We are called today to reflect on the ultimate meaning and depth of what we are doing on every Sunday. It is also an opportunity for us to seek a better understanding of the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ and to order our attitude to it accordingly, since the Eucharist is the sacrament of life.  

In the second reading we heard the institution narrative according to St. Paul. A closer look at the Greek word that Paul uses to designate Body can lead us to a better understanding of the Eucharist. The Greek term Soma that Paul uses to designate the body refers, in the Semitic language, to the person as one who expresses self, acting and communicating with others. Hence in the institution narrative the word body has been used, not just to signify body in the sense of pure human flesh, but it refers to the giving up of the whole person who is capable of communicating, expressing and making himself present one with others. Therefore it is Christ who comes into us and starts dwelling with us. Christ is really and efficaciously present in the Eucharistic bread and once received within us.

In the episode that follows the miracle of feeding five thousand men, the Jews had gathered to ask Jesus for more bread. Jesus promised to give them His Body and Blood instead. But in their worldly frame of mind they could not understand or appreciate the gift of His Body. They disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (v. 52). Jesus reaffirmed that “My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink” (v. 55). They ended up distancing themselves from the Eucharist because Jesus’ language made no sense to people in a materialistic frame of mind. If we approach the Eucharist with such a materialistic mentality we too fail to understand and so lose the benefits of such a wonderful gift of God’s love. The Eucharist is true food and drink but at the same time it is very different from every other food and drink. The great difference lies in these words of Christ which St. Augustine heard in prayer; Jesus said to St. Augustine, “You will not change me into yourself as you would do with normal food; but you will be changed into me.” We transform ordinary food into our own bodies but the food of the Eucharist transforms us into the body of Christ. The Eucharistic experience is that we become what we eat. When we really experience the Eucharistic nourishment and Christ’s presence in us we can say with St. Paul, “To me living is Christ.” Hence our belief in the Eucharist cannot be separated from the celebration of it and our celebration cannot be separated by our living it. The Holy Father says in his Apostolic exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis, that the Eucharist is a mystery to be believed, a mystery to be celebrated and a mystery to be lived.  

Why then do many of us who receive the Eucharist not experience more of this radical transformation? It is because we think of the Eucharist limiting it to either of the above mentioned aspects; that is, at times we believe and celebrate the Eucharist with no relation of it to our lives. The Eucharist is the celebration of faith; it stimulates and strengthens faith. Our relationship with God is dynamic: it takes great courage and great faith to say: "Here is the Lord." Whenever we come to receive the Lord along the isle of the Church are we conscious fully that here there is Lord really present? If I look at myself, I am always small, imperfect, sinful, full of limitations. Yet in spite of all such fragileness, God loves me, as he loves each and everyone of us. The Eucharist is not credible if it remains a ritual, the memory of an event happened two thousand years ago. Instead, the Eucharist is a "school of life", a proposal of love that involves all my life to make myself available to love others, to give my life for others in accordance with the example that Jesus left us. Jesus won life for us, losing it. It His Way. We who receive the same Jesus in the Eucharistic bread are called to walk in the same path. When you go out of this Church doors remember that you are not alone. You have become another Christ. In your smile, words and deeds others will be able to see the Lord. You are His messenger of love and the sacrament of grace. 

Let us then, today approach the Eucharist with a more lively faith in the real presence of Jesus and we shall experience therein God's saving power and His transforming love. Amen.



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