Sunday 7 June 2015

The Feast of the BODY and BLOOD of CHRIST, Year B- a Roman view

The Body and Blood of Christ

“Moses said to YHWH, “But, never in my life have I been a man of eloquence,
Either before or since you have spoken to your servant.” Ex 4:10

 "All of you together are Christ's body" - 1Cor 12:27

Today Catholics celebrate Christ's presence in the “Bread Broken and Wine Shared". The minister of communion or we ourselves say in faith the affirmation and so declare; "The Body of Christ/The Blood of Christ." Saint Augustine says "become what you receive." Each action of selfless service then becomes our Amen. In receiving the real presence of Christ sacramentally, we are strengthened to be Christ's real presence in our world. We gather as a community to be through the one bread and one cup the Body of Christ. This wondrous gift is like a two way mirror in which Christ sees himself in us and we see what we are in Christ. Saint John Chrysostom (5th century), the Archbishop of Constantinople in one of his sermons reminds his people of the consequences of celebrating the Eucharist. He said: "People in all places are yearning for the healing touch and reconciling mercy of God in Christ. Our call is to be Christ’s presence, bringing the reign of God to the world today. Do you wish to honour the Body of Christ? Do not despise him when he is naked. Do not honour him here in the church building with silks, only to neglect him outside, when he is suffering from cold and nakedness. For he who said 'This is my Body' is the same who said 'You saw me, a hungry man, and you did not give me to eat.' Feed the hungry and then come and decorate the table. The Temple of your afflicted brother's body is more precious than this Temple (the church). The Body of Christ becomes for you an altar. It is more holy than the altar of stone on which you celebrate the holy sacrifice. You are able to contemplate this altar everywhere, in the street and in the open squares."
Our participation in the body and blood has profound implications. The Eucharist is not a thing but an action. In saying, ’This is my body’... ‘this is my blood’, Jesus was saying, ‘this is my life!’ He wanted us to repeat this action "Do this in memory of me." Let's not suffer from short term memory loss when it comes to being Jesus-Eucharist in the world. As in doing what Christ commanded, we need to distinguish between memory and nostalgia. Nostalgia reflects the desire to go back to a former time to recover past feelings associated with how the celebration used to be done, rather than the meaning of what is done and what it really is. Through our 'Liturgical Memory' we are called to remember and make the reality of a past event really present. Nostalgia reminds us of what Jesus did then. Memory reminds us of what he is doing now. To remember his death directly involves us in his life that brought him to the death we proclaim until he comes again. The Mass is about the broken and bloody body of Jesus, which was sacrificed for us. Jesus consistently gave himself, especially to the needy and least in society. His sacrifice was not just about his death on the cross but his whole life. His self-gift to us implies that we are to share what we receive with others. As we receive the body and blood of Christ sacramentally, we commit ourselves to Jesus' way of life.

Our 'Eucharistic Amnesia' can leads us to ‘forget’ the victims of this world. In our forgetting who we are because of the Eucharist proclaimed and received, enemies can be dehumanised in culture. Celebrating the Mass leads us to have a ‘Dangerous Memory’ because we recall that Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection was for the salvation of the whole of creation - people and environment. The world wants to forget the oppressed and exploited. However, having prayed in the celebration "your kingdom come, your will be done' in the Lord's Prayer we are empowered through our communion to make this a reality through our lives of sacrificial unconditional love. A prayer which is attributed to the 16th century reformer of the Spanish Carmelite order, Saint Teresa of Avila, reflects the practical spiritual implications of the Eucharist celebrated and received. "Christ has no body now but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world. Christ has no body now on earth but yours." How often do we celebrate Eucharist and not make connections with the suffering world beyond the doors of the Church. How can we eat the 'bread of life' and drink the 'cup of salvation' forgetting those who have no 'daily bread' or 'clean water' who need us to act with compassion. In communion with Jesus we can become by grace more compassionate towards other’s needs. May our time at the altar-table help us become what we celebrate and receive