Monday, June 12, 2006

Corpus Domini

The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord was instituted as a universal feast by Pope Urban IV in 1264 following a miracle that happened at Bolsena in Italy when the bread turned into real flesh dripping with blood as the priest, somewhat doubtful of Christ's Real Presence in the Eucharist, spoke the words of Consecration. Perhaps, it was intended to be a sign to turn us, not so much to such spectacular happenings but to the great mystery that lies at the very heart of the Church, and yet at times remains unnoticed and unappreciated.

The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is a great miracle that happens everyday. Christ himself, the Eternal Son of God, is truly present in the gathered assembly and through the priest who presides. 'As once he did for his disciples, Christ opens the Scriptures for us and breaks the bread.' (Swiss Synod EP) As we remembers God's saving acts, culminating in Jesus who gave his very self for our salvation, not only the bread becomes Christ's Body, we too who partake of it, become his Real Presence in the world. Not only does the Eucharist remain in the tabernacles after Mass, it is also sent through us to be broken and shared for all.

That is why the Eucharist, the Paschal Mystery, is the center of our Christian life. As Vatican II teaches us, it is the Summit to which we all tend and the Source from where we draw all our strength. Saint Pius of Pietrelcina used to say, "Let our whole day be a preparation and a thanksgiving for Holy Communion." With every step of our life, we approach the Eucharist, bringing with us our joys and pains, our hopes and anxieties, the fruits and the wounds of all our labors. This the Lord takes, just as he received the meager five loaves and two fish of that little child, and transforms them into his very life, for all to partake and have their fill. Drawing from this well of life-giving water, we ourselves become the bread that is broken and the wine that is poured out for all--the Body of Blood of Jesus himself.

Taken and blessed, broken to be shared--is this not the story of every Christian life? We were all chosen by God and blessed infinitely, yet he also allows us to be broken so that in our brokenness, we can share each other's pain, and in our sharing, experience the wonderful presence of Christ in our midst. We are the Body of Christ, wounded yet life-giving, dying yet rising to new life.

Today, as we go perhaps in solemn processions, let our tongues sing and tell of this mystery that has wrought our redemption: Jesus, in the greatness of his love, gives his very self to be our very life. This is also his invitation: that we should give ourselves, allowing us to be taken and blessed, broken and shared by him, so that others may have life and life to the full. As we say Amen and receive the Sacred Host, let us pray that we truly become the Body of Christ, broken so that all may one, emptied out so that yearning hearts may be filled.