This feast traces its origin to the time of St. Thomas Aquinas who requested Pope Urban VI in 1264 to inaugurate the celebration. The Pope agreed and St. Thomas wrote the lengthy sequence from today’s mass. That prayer exquisitely expresses the glory of the sacramental presence of Christ in the form of bread and wine which becomes spiritual nourishment for persons of faith as they live out their commitment to Christ in today’s world.
The liturgy today invites us to contemplate the goodness of Jesus and God’s gracious mercy in the sacrament of the Eucharist. What a blessing we have to recall that Christ accompanies us as we journey in faith towards newer and deeper life offered freely by God.
I recall vividly an article I read in my studies in Theology that has relevance in understanding the body of Christ given in the bread and wine consecrated in the Eucharistic celebration. One of the points in the article had to do with an understanding of Jesus’ words at the Last Supper when he gave the disciples an example that they were to follow. It is the inauguration of the Eucharist, the body/blood of Christ given in the form of bread and wine. Jesus says, after the words referring to his blood, “do this in memory of me.”
The article skillfully focused specifically on that little word, this; what does “this” mean in the context of Jesus’ consecrating words? It does not primarily refer to frequently celebrating the Eucharist but by “this” Jesus refers to his own action of pouring himself out with his entire life (and most especially in his death and resurrection) in service of human persons like us.
“Do this” continues the saving work of Jesus throughout his entire life of being “poured out” for us. Our invitation is to live our lives like Jesus pouring ourselves out for others especially those most in need in our communities.
What is being said ("The Body of Christ) is something like this: “You who with faith, hope and love are receiving this sacrament ARE the body of Christ; therefore live out your everyday life AS THE BODY OF CHRIST. So each person presenting him/herself to receive the blessed elements of communion (individually as well as corporately) is taking on the imitation of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Each of us is challenged to pour ourselves out for others as Jesus did; and the entire community is equally challenged to BE CHRIST for others.
Lord, give us the gift of your intimate presence to us so that we can continue the work of love, faith and hope in our everyday lives that you so graciously began for us. Thank you for your most special love for us in your sacrament of communion.
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