Today we celebrate Corpus Christi, the feast of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The day before our Saviour suffered and died on the cross, he gave his Apostles a special gift: his Body and Blood to be offered to the Father and celebrated till the end of time. This is the same gift that we have received and whenever we gather in his name, we offer the sacrifice of the Mass to the Father in fulfilment of his command: “Do this in memory of me”.
On Holy Thursday, we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist but due to the focus on the Celebration of the sacrifice on the Cross on Good Friday, the Church decided to move its proper celebration to this day. The Eucharistic procession that should accompany today’s celebration has also been moved to the last Sunday in the liturgical year: the feast of Christ the King of the Universe.
The Eucharist is a memorial of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. It is our spiritual food which fills our minds with grace and is a guarantee of the promise of eternal life. When we are united with Christ, we prepare ourselves for our union with him in glory. Jesus himself tells us in John 6: 53-54: “Truly 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 on the last day.”
The Body and Blood of Jesus is the source of life for just as the branches receive nourishment from the vine, so too do we receive nourishment for our souls from Christ the True Vine. Do we recognise the fact that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist? Do we believe in the healing power of the Eucharist? Are we ready and willing to remain attached to the True Vine?
What about our attitude towards preparing for Mass and receiving communion? St. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 11: 26-29:
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Therefore, whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let each person examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. He who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgement to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
We must be very careful in our attitude towards the Holy Eucharist for if we do not eat this Bread, we have no life in us. If we eat unworthily, it will bring us condemnation. We must make every effort to eat the Body of Christ in the state of grace. We must avoid receiving communion as a routine, to be seen by others and be counted as ‘serious Christians’. We must have deep faith in the power of Christ to save us and prepare ourselves through prayer and reflection. We must always realise that the mass is not something that we come to watch, it is something we come to do. The mass is not a theatre show where the audience watches, applauds and goes home empty. The mass is the celebration of Christ and his Body, the Church. We all have many benefits to derive from the mass if we pay attention to the Word of God and receive communion. Anyone who truly attends mass after due preparation can never go home empty-handed.
As St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:17: “Because there is one bread, all of us, though many, are one body; for we all share in the same bread”. When we receive communion, we express our unity with Christ and our fellow men and women. We must express this unity in our dealings with our neighbours through our desire to increase love, peace and joy.
We must also remember that Jesus is always present in the Blessed Sacrament even after Mass. This allows us to spend quality time with the Lord and receive more graces from the fountain of life. Jesus is always ready to bless us. He is eager to fill our hearts with joy and peace. He is eager to take away our sorrows and give us reasons to go on living in life. All he wants us to do today is recognise His presence as our Saviour and cast our burdens at His feet for he truly cares for us. That is why He says to us in Matt 11: 28: “Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest”.