Corpus Christi - Body and Blood of Christ

Understand the difference: Transubstantiation; Tran-signification; trans-finalization; Catholic belief in Real Presence and transubstantiation (Term from St. Thomas Aquinas).
Why bread and wine:
  1. Creator God is also the provider God, provide food and sustenance to the creation (also protector and the facilitator): in the desert: manna and water. Parents who bring up children have also similar responsibility.
    Food; sacraments from bread, water, oil, wine; daily necessities; grace is built on nature
  2. We never forget to eat: Nothing becomes so biologically part of us. We become what we eat. Junk food, not caring for God's creation. Bodies neglected. Abortion, old people, children abandoned. Our younger years are spent losing health to make wealth and our older years are spent losing wealth to get health.
  3. Food is nourishment (energy), life, growth and gives joy and is eaten in fellowship, Companion = the one who breaks bread with me (Latin meaning) Food is best taken in fellowship: companion; sharing
  4. Food should be eaten as a family. Unity
  5. It takes sacrifice to prepare it
  6. Many ingredients to make it; complementing
  7. Food has to be broken down to assimilate or digest – process of breaking
  8. How can we each become Eucharistic people? Don’t adore and worship hours bodies – naked, vulgar  - on the screens of computer and TVs, but a little time with the Lord in the Eucharist. What do we hunger for? What tables do we sit to fulfil that hunger?
  9. Each sacrifice is an expression of becoming body & blood. We live by what we get, but we give life by what we give.
  10. Social Dimension: Aren't we surprised on Holy Thursday to note that the reading was not the institution of the Eucharist, but washing of the feet. Again today, the context was the multiplication of the loaves. We become what we eat. We become part of the mission of Jesus. It's about mercy and justice.
Tony Kayala, c.s.c.


Gospel text: John 6:51-58

Michel de Verteuil
General comments
Body of CtEarlier in this same chapter of St John’s gospel, Jesus presented himself to the people as”bread come down from heaven.” Here he pushes the metaphor further: he gives them his flesh to eat and his blood to drink.
You may find the metaphor strange, but you should try to enter into it so that it becomes part of your prayer. Remember that in Bible meditation it is not sufficient to get the message of a passage; you must get into the words themselves and grow to love them so that you feel moved to repeat them many times.
The metaphor has its origins in “flesh and blood”, a biblical expression that means the reality of a human being with special stress on his or her weakness or limitations. For example, when in Matthew 16 Peter made his act of faith, it did not come from “flesh and blood,” but as a gift from  God.  So too St Paul warned the Ephesians that their struggle was not merely against “flesh and blood”, but against heavenly forces.
Therefore, when Jesus says that he gives his flesh to eat and his blood to drink, he  is saying three things.
– The first is that he gives himself totally to others; every part of his being is at their service; it is the same as saying, “This is my body, given for you.”
– Secondly, he is inviting people to deep union with himself, to “have his spirit coursing through their souls so that they can know the passion of his love for every one,” as we sing in the hymn  “To be the Body of the Lord.”
– Thirdly, he wants them to unite their weakness and their sufferings with his, so that they can experience his strength and his courage. As he would say to them at the Last Supper, “In the world you will have trouble, but be brave, I have conquered the world.” When we eat his flesh and drink his blood, our own flesh and blood are ennobled. St Paul says in 2 Corinthians: “We carry with us in our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus too may always be seen in our body.”

Last SThe passage is therefore a meditation on Jesus as teacher, leader and guide. In all three roles he does not stand outside of people, he wants to share their lives and to have them share his.
Now this tells us something about God; whereas we tend to imagine God in heaven looking down on us but not getting involved in the movement of our history, Jesus shows God entering into flesh and blood with us.

But the passage also tells us about human relationships. In your meditation remember with gratitude people who have been Jesus for you – a parent, a spiritual guide, a friend, a national leader. Naturally you will feel the passage calling you to growth in your relationships.
Finally a good meditation on this passage will help you to appreciate the Eucharist. It will show you why Jesus chose to be present in the Church under the form of bread and wine.
To meditate deeply on this passage, take one section at a time and enter into it, letting it speak to your experience. I suggest the following divisions:

– Verses 51 and 52: the people are questioning the very possibility of someone giving
himself totally, as Jesus claims to do. Their response is cynical, but is it not typical of the way many would respond today?
– Verse 53 invites us to think of people who have no life in them, and to go to the root
cause: they have never experienced, or perhaps never let themselves experience, the kind of selfless love that Jesus gives.
– Verse 54 introduces a theme that appears several times in this chapter: deep relationship with God in Jesus lifts us up beyond the limitations of time and history.
– In verse 55 we remember that there is false food and drink and to recognize them we can look at what relationship with Jesus does to us.
– Verse 56 teaches us the effect of love, the love of Jesus, as well as of all those who love selflessly.
– In verse 57 we see another effect of selfless love. Here, as frequently in St John’s
gospel, Jesus’ relationship with his followers is similar to his relationship with his Father – “As the Father has sent me so I am sending you; as the Father loves me so I have loved you.”
– In verse 58 we see again the theme of the newness of Jesus’ teaching.

Prayer reflection
Lord, we remember with gratitude the day when we realized for the first time
that following Jesus meant eating his flesh and drinking his blood.
Up to then it was a matter of believing abstract truths –
that Jesus was truly God and truly man,
that there were three persons in God and seven sacraments.
That kind of faith was not a source of life for us.

Then one day we knew that we had to lay down our lives
– caring for a wayward child;
– working for reconciliation in the work place and being attacked by both
workers and employees;
– forgiving someone who had hurt us deeply.
At that moment we knew that Jesus on the cross was present within us,
and the strange thing was that we felt an inner strength and freedom.
and we were certain that no matter how low we fell he would raise us up.

Lord, being self-centred  has become like a first principle of living today.
People will argue with one another that it is not possible for us
to give our flesh to be eaten,
and yet there can be no life in the world without selfless giving,
not in nature, not in families, not in any society.

Lord, we pray for those who are mourning for a loved one.
Remind them that Jesus gave them his flesh to eat and his blood to drink
and he will raise them up on the last day.

“I should like to set down here my own belief. In so far as I am willing to be made an instrument of God’s peace, in that far have I already   entered into eternal life.”  ...Alan Paton
Lord, we thank you for those who eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus
and therefore already have eternal life.

“We need the eyes of deep faith to see Christ in the broken bodies and dirty clothes under which the most beautiful one among the sons of men hides.”   ...Mother Teresa
Lord, help us to receive Jesus when he comes to us in flesh and blood.
silent prayerLord, you give us food and drink so that we might live more freely and creatively.
Yet we nourish ourselves with many things that are not life-giving at all,
but rather clutter up our lives and keep us in bondage.
We pray that your Christ may be Jesus today,
giving the world real food and drink.

Lord, we thank you for the people who have touched our lives;
when we read the story of Jesus, we see them living in him,
and when we remember their stories, we see Jesus living in them.
Truly they have eaten his flesh and drunk his blood.

Lord, we speak too much when we pray.
Teach us to remain silent
so that we become conscious of Jesus present within us
and the life he draws from you may well up in us too.

Lord, we think today of those who see their spouses destroying themselves
with bitterness, envy and false pride.
With anguish in their hearts, they say to them,
as Jesus said to his followers,
“Unless you allow yourself to receive my selfless love,
              you will not have life within you.”

Lord, we pray for the people of South Africa, Ireland, Afghanistan, and East Timor.
For generations, their ancestors have eaten the bread of suspicion,
fear and hatred, and they are dead.
We thank you that you are raising up new leaders in those countries,
and they, like Jesus, are offering their people a different kind of nourishment,
based on reconciliation and sharing,
bread come down from heaven,
so that they can eat it and live.

Thomas O’Loughlin
Introduction to the Celebration
Since the very first days of the church — before St Paul had set out on his journeys or any of the gospels were written — our brothers and sisters have been gathering every week for this sacred meal. But when we routinely do anything, we often lose sight of just how wonderful it is. So today we are reflecting on just how wonderful it is to be called by the Lord to gather in his presence, to be his guests at his table, and to eat and drink from his wonderful bounty. In this banquet we become one with Christ, and are transformed into being his Body, and his Blood flows in all our community’s veins, giving us the strength to be his withesses in the world and to inherit the life that never ends.
Homily notes
 1. Words should help us to draw out;the significant in our lives. Words should be the seeds of meaning within us and between us. Words should be precious in letting us see the wonder and goodness of the Father.
2. Unfortunately, words also can obscure reality for us. They can bury us under so many layers of accumulated confusions that we struggle to see what is really important. In a communications age, words can be the vehicles of disinformation like never before and can confuse the chasm that should exist between the genuine, the true, the important, and the illusions of salesmen, marketers, and spin-doctors. Words also can so fascinate us with their own magic that we fail to move beyond them to the realities they exist to highlight for us. Words should be illuminating, but they are often like a fog, and indeed sometimes a smokescreen separating us from reality.
3. What has this to do with the Eucharist? Well, the Eucharist is a sacrament, a sign, a mystery; and as such it should convey meaning and truth and authenticity and life. And so it always involves words: words, firstly, in the actual celebration, the words of thanksgiving and prayer to the Father that justify the name of ‘The Eucharist’; and, words too that talk about what we are doing, explaining our actions to ourselves and to others. These words of explanation and exploration of meaning are what we call’ theology’. We see the process right from the start of the Christian journey: each week the community gathered and in its eating and drinking offered its prayer of thanksgiving. Then we see theologians explaining why this is significant: firstly, Paul writing to the Corinthians explaining it in terms of becoming one with the Christ, then the Didache in terms of the final banquet of the regathered Israel, then Mark explaining it in terms of a pre-existing understanding of the Passover (and in explaining a weekly meal in terms of an annual meal leaving a theological time ­bomb that went off in Calvin’s hands 1400 years later!), then John in terms of the manna in the desert, and on and on and on until we reach some of the books on the Eucharist that are on your shelves or the pamphlets in the church’s bookrack.
4. But today we face a problem with all these words. For many the words about the Eucharist make no sense. The gathering makes no sense; its does not enhance their grasp of life or of the goodness of God. Just think of these two facts. First, English and Welsh hierarchy figures for Mass attendance showed a fall of 130,000 between 2002 and 2005. People are expressing their ‘theology’ (i.e. their understanding of what we are doing, whether it is an adequate theology or not) with their feet. Second, the fastest growing Christian groups are the evangelical churches where the Eucharist is not considered central or significant (and which in some groups is even considered superstitious). Yet the statisticians point out that between 25% (Catholics bishops’ figures) and 33% (the evangelical missionaries’ figures) of South Americans now for­mally call themselves ‘Evangelicals’ as distinct from ‘Catholics’. And, this is a pattern of movement that is not confined to Latin America. When we consider the centrality of this meal, since the very first days of the church, that was the bonding force of the little groups with their Lord whose resurrection they proclaimed, then the poverty of such a jejune (literally) non-Eucharist centred theology cannot but be a cause of sadness.
meal5. That the Eucharist and its language are seen as meaningless, boring, or irrelevant either to life in general or the life of discipleship is, of its nature, a complex problem with many causes; and it is possible that it is beyond our ability to do anything about most of these causes. However, some parts of the problem are of our making and can be addressed. One of these is that many celebrations obscure the basic and original structure of this gift that Jesus gave us. This obscuring takes place in that we concentrate on all the various levels of meaning that have accumulated over the centuries such that participants cannot experience the answer to that constant human question: ‘What’s this about?’ – nor can teachers give a concise explanation that might answer that question. Such accumulations of secondary issues are a normal part of human life and the constant bane of every group activity, and so common is it that we have the classic image of ‘the tail wagging the dog’ to describe the problem. In the case of the Eucharist this can take many forms: the celebration becomes primarily linked to the availability of a priest rather than the needs of a community; it becomes a teaching session and prayer service plus getting Holy Communion rather than the Lord’s Banquet; the questions of who can or cannot receive become the central issue – and for a great many people this is the sole question that concerns them about the whole affair ­rather than encountering the risen Christ; the Eucharist (the name for an action) becomes subsumed under the notion of Holy Communion (a commodity) or the Blessed Sacrament (an object); and for many, priests included, it is hard to think of ‘sacrament’ as the name of an activity of a group rather than of a ‘something’ usually had by an individual.
6. So what can one do to address the problem? The starting point is to remember that the Eucharist is the collective meal of the community of the baptised. So why not meet for the Eucharist on this day in the community hall rather than the church building? Then stand around for the whole event rather than be formally lined up in the way one might for a class or a meeting where discussion is dominant. This is a gathering, an assembly, a celebration of who we are in Christ, not a meeting to transact business. Recall the gathering at some ‘reception’, people stand and mingle, they get to know each other, they recognise they have a common reason for being there: they are not seated in rows. Then they can gather around a single table that is the Lord’s. Words like ‘altar’ are secondary: they derive from a second century attempt to explain what we are doing as we gather at the one table. It was basic to the message of Jesus that there was a welcome at his table, there was room there for the poor, the outcasts, the strangers, the sinners, and unloved. This gathering of those who are reconciled and given new life (i.e. the baptised) is the pattern for the whole life of the church, both now and eschatologically. So everyone should be able to gather around that table, and know they have as much right to stand there at the Lord’s invitation as the mob of concelebrating priests one sometimes sees huddling round it. A decent-sized dining table, that is still clearly recognisable as such (i.e. not covered to make it look like’ an altar’), is ideal. It is also worth recalling those lines from Eucharistic Prayer I (which date from the time before we had formal churches) that say: ‘Remember your male servants (famulorum) and your female servants (famularum), indeed, the needs ofall who are standing around.’
Then we come to the basic activity of thanking the Father in Jesus. We often recite this as if its purpose was to ask God to consecrate elements on the table (and as such it becomes the skilled work of the priest alone). Presented in that light there is little adequate answer to the question someone asked me after the Eucharist recently: why does the priest not get all this done before-hand so that it is ready to give to us after the readings? It is strange how the culture of fast-food outlets matches the old practice of ‘Mass and Communion (from the tabernacle, of course)’. So there has to be attention to the tone of the Eucharistic Prayer that it is recited as prayer directed to the Father thanking him for all he has given us in his Son. Use Eucharistic Prayer II as it is crisp and its theology elegant, and note that in the Missal of Vatican II there are no ‘words of consecration’, but an ‘institution narrative’ – there lies the core of the renewed theology of the council and it has major implications for how the Eucharistic Prayer is voiced at every celebration. We are recalling the Last Supper as part of our prayer and so justifying why we are now praying in this way (this recollection format is part of every collect: we praise the Father because of something that has occurred) not pronouncing a sacral formula. After all, in the final analysis, it is the gathered people that must be consecrated to become the body and blood of Christ.
Then we come to the basic form of the meal: Jesus used a single loaf from which each received a share, and passed around a single cup from which each drank. This is the basic symbolism of this particular meal: a common life as one body which is Christ (the one loaf), and a common destiny (see Mk 10:38-9; Jn 18:11) which is in Christ (the one cup). This eating and drinking by the gathering is, of its nature, a confusing and lengthy business, but that is fine. After all we are there to engage in just that activity.
7. This is a radical way to celebrate this feast (and the homily would be to point out that we are doing it this way to remind ourselves on this day of our eucharistic basics. There will be those who object, threaten to go the the next parish where the priest is sound, and indeed some who write to the bishop (or further afield) to ‘just let him know what’s happening’. This is, in every community, a well identified and easily quantified group and so they receive a lot of attention lest they be upset; however, that other group who are just drifting away without a word are not easily identifiable and are only quantifiable through statistics. In addressing those who day by day are being lost to the Eucharist, I suspect there is some guidance in Mt 18:12-3.
John Litteton
Gospel Reflection
HostOn the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, it is appropriate to reflect on three essential Catholic teachings about the Eucharist: the link between the Eucharist and the Church, the Eucharist as sacrifice, and the Eucharist as Real Presence.
First, there is an intrinsic link between the Eucharist and the Church. Sharing the Eucharist requires belonging to the Church and vice versa. Understanding such a relationship between the Eucharist and the Church, which is central to Catholic teaching, has serious implications for people who receive Holy Communion.
There is a necessary connection between what Catholics do when they assemble for the celebration of Mass and what they do as members of the Church in other aspects of their daily lives. If they do not perceive such a connection, then it is probable that there will be many areas of inconsistency with gospel values and Catholic doctrine in their lifestyles.
The Church is most truly itself when it celebrates the Eucharist. But this truth presumes a unity between what Catholics say they believe and how they live. So faith and morality are inextricably bound up and we need to live in religious and moral harmony with the Church if we are to celebrate the Eucharist authentically.
Christ CrucifiedThe reception of Holy Communion implies that a person is in full communion with the Catholic Church and its beliefs. Receiving Communion is a sign of unity in faith and love with both the local church (and the local bishop) and the universal Church (and the Pope). While there are members of other ecclesial communities — various other Christian denominations seeking to follow Christ — who often wish to receive Holy Communion in Catholic churches and who argue that, because of our common belief in the divinity of Christ, we are, in a sense, in communion, the Catholic Church teaches that this communion is imperfect because it is incomplete. Hence there is genuine difficulty about Eucharistic sharing between Catholics and other Christians. But this does not deny that elements of holiness and truth are evident in other Christian communities.
Secondly, the Eucharist is a sacrifice. When the Eucharist is celebrated, the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ becomes effectively present for his people who are members of his Body, the Church. In describing the Eucharist as a sacrifice, the Catholic Church is not — as many other Christian traditions have often interpreted — denying the unique saving work of Jesus Christ when he died on Calvary.
There is a need for a renewed emphasis on the sacrificial understanding of the Eucharist among Catholics because such an understanding is at the very heart of the Eucharist. Traditionally, the Eucharist has never been understood merely as a service. No service can replace the sacrifice of the Mass. This is because the sacrifice of the Mass is the unbloody re-presentation of Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice on Calvary.
Thirdly, Catholic faith accepts that the ‘real’ and ‘substantial’ presence of Christ is found in the Eucharist in the sense that the Eucharist is the supreme form of Christ’s presence and his inner reality. This belief that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, that there has been a change in the substances of bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, provides the basis and the imperative for adoration of and reverence for the reserved Blessed Sacrament. This is why Catholics are exhorted to spend time praying before the Blessed Sacrament.
Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life. He is the Living Bread that has come down from heaven to give life to the world (see Jn 6:51). Whoever eats the Bread of Life will have eternal life.
How do we deal with this basic Catholic teaching about the Eucharist? The teaching of the Church is the teaching of Christ. Can we, therefore, accept and believe the Church’s teaching about the Eucharist? The Church teaches that the Eucharist is the summit of the Christian life. It is appropriate, then, when receiving Holy Communion, to repeat the prayer of one of the multitude following Jesus: ‘I do have faith. Help the little faith I have’ (Mk 9:23).
For meditation
I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.Anyone who ears this bread will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh for the life of the world. (Jn 6:51)

Fr Donal Neary, S.J
The feast today highlights the central place of the Eucharist in Christian life, our faith that God becomes present in a real way in ordinary bread and wine – food for the journey of life in the bread, energy and joy for the journey of life in the wine. and the wine of the coming of the Lord. Bread and wine were very much part of the ordinary food of the people of his time, and also of their religious life. People would remember the bread in the desert and the wine of the coming of the Lord.  
Each time we come to Mass, we take part in a real way in the death and resurrection of the Lord, The sacrifice of Christ on the cross and his resurrection is ‘made resent’among us. It is a place and time  of grace.
So our Eucharist today is not just to commemorate something that happened many years ago.It is our commitment to Christ in his people, and our faith in his real presence among us in the Eucharist and in each other.
Jesus ask us o share the bread and cup, to proclaim this ‘mystery of faith’ for all time, We proclaim today that the Jesus of the tabernacle is the Jesus within all of us. Let’s be amazed that within each of us, God dwells in Jesus Christ.
From The Connections:

Today’s celebration of the Body and Blood of the Lord originated in the Diocese of Liege in 1246 as the feast of Corpus Christi.  In the reforms of Vatican II, the Corpus Christi festival was joined with the feast of the Precious Blood (July 1) to become the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord.  We celebrate today Christ’s gift of the Eucharist, the source and summit of our life together as the Church.
In the “bread of life” discourse in John’s Gospel, Jesus’ revelations concerning his Messianic ministry take on a Eucharistic theme.  The image of Jesus as “bread from heaven” echoes two dimensions of the same First Testament image: the wisdom of God's Law nourishing all who accept it and God's blessing of manna to feed the journeying Israelites.

The gift of the Eucharist comes with an important “string” is attached: it must be shared.  In sharing the body of Christ, we become the body of Christ.  If we partake of the “one bread” (Reading 2), then we must be willing to become Eucharist for others -- to make the love of Christ real for all.
Our coming to the table of the Eucharist is even more than just reliving the memory of Christ’s great sacrifice for our redemption -- in sharing the Eucharist we re-enter the inexplicable love of God who gives us eternal life in his Son, the Risen Christ.
In celebrating the Eucharist, we make our parish family’s table the Lord’s own table, a place of reconciliation and compassion.
From Fr. Jude Botelho:

Today's reading alludes to all kinds of sacrifices the ancient Jews offered. Blood was used as a sign of the Israelites' 'covenant', a special word the Hebrews borrowed from others. It was a pact or contract, between unequal parties, like the king and his subjects; a pact freely entered into, binding perpetually, and sealed in blood. Moses is referring to the pact and covenant with God and this pact was sealed with a sacrifice, offered to God alone. Moses splashed the blood on the altar and he splashed the remaining on the people, binding the two together. The people honour the pact by agreeing to keep the commandments and being faithful to God, in return for his protection of them. Furthermore the people identified with the sacrifice by eating a portion of the victim being offered. Meal sharing was regarded as very sacred in antiquity. By eating, one signified acceptance of, and respect for the person providing the meal.

Food for the Journey
I traveled to a place in the northern tip of Ireland one night to say Mass for a Prayer Group. It was a wild wintry night and, when the Mass was over, I was anxious to get on the road for home. As I dashed towards the car, I was stopped by an elderly lady, and I wasn't too please at the prospect of having to listen to her tale of pains and aches, while I was impatient to get going. I was very taken aback when she handed me a small boat-shaped basket, filled with triangular sandwiches, with all kinds of fillings. The basket was covered with cling film. "I just thought, Father, you might like to eat those on your journey home." She turned and went back into the church. For once I was stuck for words..! I still have the basket on my desk as I write here now. When I look at it I think of the Eucharist, 'food for the journey.'
Jack McArdle in 'And that's the Gospel Truth"

In today's gospel we have Mark's account of the Last Supper, and the longest part, has to do with the preparation for the meal. This was no haphazard, hurried, get-together but a sacred event. Jesus was continuing something that had been going on as the Jewish way of offering worship and thanks for their deliverance since they left Egypt. What He did in the Upper Room was, first of all, an adaptation of the Passover of the past. The Passover meal was also an anticipation of Jesus' offering of himself and a commemoration for the people of the future. In addition to being an adaptation of the past and an anticipation of the future, what Jesus did at the Passover was important for what he was doing now. He was signing the covenant with his own blood which will be poured out for mankind. Our taking part in the Eucharist required preparation of both body and soul. The Eucharist is not something that we come to watch, rather it is something we come to do. We have to become personally responsible for our presence at the Eucharist and not make it dependant on the priest who is presiding. Certainly, the priest can help enormously in getting us involved and in breaking the word meaningfully but if I am not disposed nothing will help. Thus a meaningful celebration of the Eucharist would mean not only an open disposition and reverent celebration of the ritual but also letting the Eucharist affect our attitudes and life.

The Body of Christ is not only our redemption, it is our task!
In his sermon 'The Weight of Glory', C.S. Lewis wrote: 'Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to our senses." "Christ's body is hidden in the least of us as it is under the appearances of bread and wine. Both require an uncommon and daring faith.  When we labour for human rights, when we shelter the poor, when we dismantle the bombs, when we protect the unborn, when we reach out to the criminal, we do these things not as political activists or social workers. We do them not as liberals or conservatives. We do them as people who worship the incarnate God. The body and blood of Christ is not only our redemption. It is our task!" 
John F. Kavanaugh

This will be enough for me!
In Ingmar Bergman's classic film, The Seventh Seal, the quest for God is set against a medieval world threatened by plague. After fighting in the crusades a knight makes his way to his native land. He survives a shipwreck, but death lets him know that he is doomed to die within a certain time. The knight wins a little more time at a game of chess, but he is sick at heart: he wants to believe in God, yet he cannot manage by himself to reach faith. He seeks for signs of God's presence, but there is none he can see. It is the time of the Black Death; God seems to be absent from the troubled streets of every town and village. On his journey the knight meets a peasant couple and their child, and shares a simple meal with them. The only food they can manage to gather is wild strawberries -this they share together with fresh milk. The love in the young couple's welcome, the fruit of their love in the sleeping child, Mikael, all this is greater than the food and drink they share. In the simple actions of sharing the meal the knight sees the presence of a love that has eluded him. In that meeting place the darkness begins to lift from the knight. He has been gifted with more than food; he has been graced with more than fellowship. He prays his thanks when he says: "I shall remember this moment. The silence, the twilight, the bowls of strawberries and milk, your face in the evening light. Mikael sleeping, Jof with his lyre. I'll carry this memory between my hands as carefully as if it were a bowl filled to the brim with fresh milk. And it will be an adequate sign. It will be enough for me!"
Denis McBride in 'Seasons of the Word'

Retelling the Story
On a hill near Cape Town, South Africa, just below the famed Table Mountain, a gun is fired every day at noon. The hill is known as Signal Hill. The firing of the gun once served a beautiful purpose. It signaled that a ship, on its way to or from India, had arrived in the harbour with a cargo of goods, and was in need of supplies of food and fresh water. A beautiful exchange resulted. There was receiving and giving. But that was a long time ago. The purpose no longer exists. Yet the gun is still fired dutifully every day. However, the firing is now little more than an empty ritual. Once it had a beautiful meaning. Now the meaning has gone out of it. Most of the local people ignore it. Visitors are told, 'If you hear a loud bang at mid-day, don't worry. It's only the gun going off.' However the ritual still has one thing going for it. Most people know the story behind it. If that story were to be lost, then the ritual would become poorer still. The Eucharist celebrates a wonderful event - the gift which Jesus made of his life on our behalf. Every time we celebrate the Eucharist we tell that story again. But like anything that is repeated over and over again, there is a danger that it may become just a ritual.

Flor McCarthy in 'New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies'

Christ -the primary focus
Leonardo da Vinci was 43 years old when the duke of Milano asked him to paint the Last Supper. He worked on it slowly and with meticulous care to detail. He spent much time making the cup that Jesus held as beautiful as possible. After three years he was ready to show it, and he called a friend to come and see it. He said, "Look at it and give me your opinion." The friend said, "It is wonderful. The cup is so real I cannot take my eyes of it!" Immediately, Leonardo took a brush and drew it across the sparkling cup. He exclaimed as he did so: "Nothing shall detract from the figure of Christ!" Christ must be the primary focus of a Christian's life!
John Rose in 'John's Sunday Homilies'

God Always Comes...
Once upon a time there was a Rabbi. Whenever he wanted God's presence, he went to a special place in the woods, lit a fire, said some prayers, and did a dance. Then God would appear to him. When he died, his disciple did the same. If he wanted God's presence, he went to the same spot in the woods, lit the fire, and said the same prayers, but nobody had taught him the dance. It still worked. God appeared. When he died, his disciple carried on the tradition. If he wanted God's presence, he went to the same spot in the woods and lit the fire, but he didn't know the prayers, nor the dance, but it still worked. God came. Then he died. He also had a disciple. Whenever he wanted God's presence, he too went to the same place in the woods, but nobody had taught him how to light the fire or say the prayers or do the dance, but it still worked, God appeared. In the end, he died, but he too had a pupil. One day this pupil wanted God's presence. So he searched for the place in the woods, but couldn't find it. And he didn't know how to light the fire or say the prayers or do the dance. All he knew was how to tell the story. But it worked. He discovered that whenever he told the story of how the others had found God, God would appear. In essence, this story explains how the sacred ritual, liturgy, works.
Ronald Rolheiser in 'In Exile'

Jesus, Bread of Life
Brennan Manning, an American Franciscan priest, tells this story of his mother, a lady in her mid-seventies in Brooklyn. Mrs. Manning's day centred on her daily Eucharist. Because she began her voluntary stint at a drug detoxification centre each morning at 7.30 a.m., the only mass she could reach was at 5.30 a.m. Across the road from her lived a very successful lawyer, mid-thirties, married with two children. The man had no religion and was particularly critical of daily church-goers. Driving home from a late party at 5 am one January morning, the roads glassy with ice, he said to his wife: "I bet that old hag won't be out this morning", referring to Mrs. Manning. But to his shock, there she was on hands and knees negotiating the hill up to the church. He went home, tried to sleep, but could not. Around 9 am he rose, went to the local presbytery and asked to see a priest. "Padre," he said, "I am not one of yours. I have no religion. But could you tell me what do you have there that can make an old woman crawl on hands and knees on an icy morning?" Thus began his conversion along with his wife and family. Mrs. Manning was one of those people who never studied deep religious books, never knew the big theological words, but she knew what it is to meet Jesus in Holy Communion. Jesus Christ is the bread of life. What more could we want?
Sylvester O'Flynn in 'The Good News of Mark's Year'

From Father Tony Kadavil's Collection:

# 1: “I would like to say Mass.”
Dominic Tang, the courageous Chinese archbishop, was imprisoned for twenty-one years for nothing more than his loyalty to Christ and Christ’s one, true Church. After five years of solitary confinement in a windowless, damp cell, he was told by his jailers that he could leave it for a few hours to do whatever he wanted. Five years of solitary confinement and he had a couple of hours to do what he wanted! What would it be? A hot shower? A change of clothes? Certainly a long walk outside? A chance to call or write to family? What would it be, the jailer asked him. “I would like to say Mass,” replied Archbishop Tang. [Msgr. Timothy M. Dolan, Priests of the Third Millennium (2000), p. 216]. The Vietnamese Jesuit, Joseph Nguyen-Cong Doan, who spent nine years in labor camps in Vietnam, relates how he was finally able to say Mass when a fellow priest-prisoner shared some of his own smuggled supplies. “That night, when the other prisoners were asleep, lying on the floor of my cell, I celebrated Mass with tears of joy. My altar was my blanket, my prison clothes my vestments. But I felt myself at the heart of humanity and of the whole of creation.” (Ibid., p. 224). Today’s feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus constantly calls us beyond ourselves to sacrificial love for others.

# 2: The greatest work of art in St. Peter’s Basilica:
‘One of the seminarians who gives tours of St. Peter’s told me of an interesting incident. He was leading a group of Japanese tourists who knew absolutely nothing of our faith. With particular care he explained the great masterpieces of art, sculpture and architecture. He finally concluded at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel trying his best to explain quickly what it was. As the group dispersed, an elderly man, who had been particularly attentive stayed behind, and said, “Pardon me. Would you explain again this ‘Blessed Sacrament?’ Our student did, after which the man exclaimed, “Ah, if this is so, what is in this chapel is a greater work of art than anything else in this basilica.”’ (Msgr. Timothy M Dolan in Priests of the Third Millennium, 2000 p. 226). Today’s feast of Corpus Christi is intended to make us value and appreciate the worth of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.   

3: Communion on the moon:  
The Lord's Supper ensures that we can remember Jesus from any place. Apollo 11 landed on the moon on Sunday, July 20, 1969. Most remember astronaut Neil Armstrong's first words as he stepped onto the moon's surface: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." But few know about the first meal eaten on the moon. Dennis Fisher reports that Buzz Aldrin, the NASA Astronaut had taken aboard the spacecraft a tiny pyx provided by his Catholic pastor. Aldrin sent a radio broadcast to Earth asking listeners to contemplate the events of the day and give thanks. Then, blacking out the broadcast for privacy, Aldrin read, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit." Then, silently, he gave thanks for their successful journey to the moon and received Jesus in the Holy Eucharist surrendering moon to Jesus. Next he descended on the moon and walked on it with Neil Armstrong. (Dan Gulley: "Communion on the Moon": Our Daily Bread: June/July/August, 2007). His actions remind us that in the Lord's Supper, God's children can share the life of Jesus from any place on Earth — and even from the moon. God is everywhere, and our worship should reflect this reality. In Psalm 139 we are told that wherever we go, God is intimately present with us. Buzz Aldrin celebrated that experience on the surface of the moon. Thousands of miles from earth, he took time to commune with the One who created, redeemed, and established fellowship with him. 

4. “I will not permit Christ to return to Albania as long as I am in charge.”  
Mother Teresa was given a reception by the cruel communist dictator Enver Hoxha who ruled Albania for 40 years from 1945 to 1985. He imposed atheism as the official religion in 1967. The possession of a Bible or cross often meant a ten-year prison term. Welcoming Mother Teresa in 1985, he stated that he appreciated her world-wide works of charity, and then added, “But I will not permit Christ to return to Albania as long as I am in charge.” In her reply after thanking the president for the reception Mother said, “Mr. President, you are wrong. I have brought not only the love of Christ into my native land but also the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist right into your presidential palace. I am allowed to carry Jesus in a pyx during my visit of this communist country where public worship is a crime. I keep Jesus in the consecrated host in my pocket. Jesus will surely return to this country very soon.”  

Hoxha was gone a few days later on April 11, 1985. Communist rule collapsed in Albania in 1992 and Christians and Muslims reopened their churches and mosques for worship. Finally the Lord of the Eucharist has ruled the hearts and minds of the people of Albania. 

When push comes to that famous shove, it doesn't matter what Mother Teresa or you or I believe about the Eucharist. What does matter is what Christ Himself believes about it. For the answer one must go to the record.

5. The Eucharistic piety that converted St. Elizabeth Ann Seton:  
Two hundred years ago, a beautiful young Episcopalian woman accompanied her husband, a merchant, to Italy, leaving four of their five children at home with family members. They had sailed for Italy hoping that perhaps the change in climate might help her husband, whose failing business had eventually affected his health adversely. Tragically he died in Liverno. The grieving young woman was warmly received by an Italian family, business acquaintances of her deceased husband. She stayed with them for three months before she could arrange to return to America. The young widow was very impressed by the catholic faith of her host family, especially their devotion to the holy Eucharist: their frequent attendance at Mass, the reverence with which they received Holy Communion, the awe they showed toward the Blessed Sacrament on feast days when the Eucharist was carried in procession. She found her broken heart healed by a hunger for this mysterious presence of the Lord, and, upon returning home, requested instruction in Catholic Faith. Soon after being received into the Church, she described her first reception of the Lord in the Eucharist as the happiest moment of her life. It was in St. Peter’s Square on September 14, 1975, Pope Paul VI canonized this woman, Elizabeth Ann Seton, as the first native born saint of the United states. The Eucharist for her was a sign and cause of union with God and the Church.

6. A message of unity and sacrificial love:  The Eucharist, (the body and blood of Christ) teaches us the importance of community, the bond that results from this sacrifice. Just as numerous grains of wheat are pounded together to make the host, and many grapes are crushed together to make the wine, so we become unified in this sacrifice. Our Lord chose these elements in order to show us that we ought to be united with one another and to allow and work with the Holy Spirit in transforming us into Our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is the head and we are the body. Together we are one. That which unites us is our willingness to sacrifice our time and talents for our fellow members in Christ’s mystical body. This is symbolized by our sharing in the same bread and the same cup. Hence, Holy Communion should strengthen our sense of unity and love.

7. The duty of preparing properly to receive Holy Communion:  
We have tarnished God’s image within us through acts of impurity, injustice and disobedience. Hence, there is always need for repentance, and a need for the sacramental confession of grave sins before we receive Holy Communion. We should remember the warning given by St. Paul: "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves." [1 Cor. 11:27-9]. Hence, let us receive Holy Communion with fervent love and respect -- not merely as a matter of routine. St. Paul is speaking also of the mystical body of Christ, i.e., the people of God gathered at the altar. Such a union, plainly, means that our outward piety towards the consecrated Bread and Wine cannot coexist with rudeness, unkindness, slander, cruelty, gossiping or any other breach of charity toward our brothers and sisters.  

8. Let us become Christ-bearers and conveyers:
By receiving Holy Communion we become Christ-bearers as Mary was, with the duty of conveying Christ to others at home and in the workplace, as love, mercy, forgiveness and humble and sacrificial service.

As we celebrate this great feast of faith, let us worship what St. Thomas Aquinas did not hesitate to call, "the greatest miracle that Christ ever worked on earth ...... my Body ........ my Blood". Before the greatness of this mystery, let us exclaim with St. Augustine, "O sacrament of devotion! O sign of unity! O bond of charity!" Let us also repeat St. Thomas Aquinas' prayer of devotion in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament: "O Sacrament most holy! O Sacrament divine! All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine!"

9.  “All we really need in our convent is the tabernacle.”  
The former archbishop of San Francisco, John Quinn, loves to tell the story of the arrival of Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity to open their house in the city. Poor Archbishop Quinn had gone to great efforts to make sure that their convent was, while hardly opulent, quite comfortable. He recalls how Mother Teresa arrived and immediately ordered the carpets removed, the telephones, except for one, pulled out of the wall, the beds, except for the mattresses taken away, and on and on. Explained Mother Teresa to the baffled archbishop, “All we really need in our convent is the tabernacle” (Msgr. Timothy M Dolan in “Priests of the Third Millennium” 2000 p. 218).

10. Blessed Imelda:   

Blessed Imelda, the Patron saint of First communicants: Blessed Imelda Lambertini had a remarkable experience of this love. She lived in Bologna, Italy, in the 1300s. She wanted to be a nun from the time she was a little girl, and she joined that Dominican convent at the age of nine, to better prepare herself for the day when she would take the habit. Her greatest desire was to receive Holy Communion, but in those days you had to be at least twelve-years- old to do so. Imelda begged for an exception to the rule, but the chaplain refused. She kept praying for special permission. Her prayers were miraculously answered on the Feast of the Ascension in 1333. After Mass, she stayed in her place in the chapel, where one of the nuns was putting away the sacred vessels. Suddenly, the nun heard a noise and turned towards Imelda. Hovering in mid air in front of Imelda as she knelt in prayer was a sacred host, the Blessed Eucharist, shining with a bright and forceful light. The frightened nun ran to find the chaplain. By the time the chaplain arrived, the rest of the nuns and other onlookers had crowded, awe-struck, into the chapel. When the priest saw the shining, hovering host, he put on his vestments, went over to the girl, took the miraculous host in his hands, and gave her Holy Communion. Some minutes later, after the crowd had dispersed, the mother superior came over to Imelda to call her for breakfast. She found the girl still kneeling, with a smile on her face. But Imelda was dead. She had died of love, in ecstasy after receiving Christ in the Eucharist. He had longed to be with her even more than she had longed to be with him. Blessed Imelda's body is incorrupt, and you can still see it today in the Church where she is interred, in Bologna. She is the patron saint of First Holy Communicants. (E- Priest).