June 22, 2014
This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord, the feast usually known by its Latin name, Corpus Christi. This feast began in Liege, Belgium in 1247 when an Augustinian nun, Julian of Liege, received visions that God wanted his people to celebrate his institution of the Blessed Sacrament. Perhaps twelve hundred years after the First Eucharist at the Last Supper, people were beginning to overlook the importance of this sacrament. Maybe this still exists to some extent today. Consider how many people do not see the importance of receiving the Eucharist every week. Consider how many people bring their children for the First Holy Communion and will not bring them to their Second Holy Communion until next September, or maybe, next Christmas. Perhaps people in both Julian’s day and our day have forgotten what the Eucharist is all about.
The story is told of two soldiers during the Vietnam War. One was a dull fellow. The other was very sharp. Yet, there was some kind of chemistry that made them best friends. One day the slow one was badly wounded. His friend immediately volunteered his blood. When the wounded learned whose blood had saved his life, he said to his family, “Now I feel like a new man.”
Something similar should take place each time we receive the Eucharist. We drag ourselves into the Sunday Mass looking for a spiritual transfusion, a pick-me-up. We need a rocket that will jumpstart us and help us make it through the week. We should all ideally become blood relations with Jesus. And if we really give the process a second thought, we can just about put him down in our IDs as next of kin. “In case of accident, call Jesus. He is my closest relative.”
To receive Communion is to receive Jesus himself, the sum total of God’s love for his people. This is the Body and Blood of the Lord because the Eucharist is the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. This is the Body and Blood of Christ because the Eucharist unites our community for we are the Body of Christ. When we receive Communion, we receive the sum total of the teachings of Christ. This is the basic truth of the Catholic belief.
Therefore, we can’t allow Holy Communion to become routine. We need to cleanse ourselves of sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We should not be living in sin and then come to receive the Lord unworthily. Perhaps we need to come to Mass a bit early and meditate on what we are about to do. Certainly we need to pray during and after the reception of the Eucharist. It is wrong for people to receive Communion and then race out of the church. It is almost as though they are performing a superstitious act rather than communing with God.
After the Vatican II Council, the extraordinary Eucharistic ministry has been established. The laity now shares with clergy to offer the Body and Blood of Christ to God’s people. This ministry is very important. If you really believe that you are offering the Body and Blood of the Lord to his people, please do it with love, care and respect because you hold your God in your hand.
This weekend I want to make two concrete suggestions of how we can show greater honor and love for Jesus in the Eucharist. Try your best to attend the Sunday Mass. Do not use excuses such as, camping, hockey game, golf game, ball game, visiting grandchildren, parties, snow, rain, sunshine, work, job, too early, too late, etc. The second suggestion is to give the Lord one hour a week to adore him in the Blessed Sacrament on Tuesday night, or Thursday evening or Friday morning. The Lord gives you 168 hours a week, can you just spare 1 hour for him, and just for him? No matter how busy you are, come to the Lord in the Eucharist as Jesus says it bluntly: “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life within you.” (Jn 6:53) His flesh is “real food,” his blood “real drink.” By eating his flesh and drinking his blood, we remain in him and him in us. As we celebrate this feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ, we ask him to help us grow in reverence and love for this magnificent gift.