A man came to a priest and wanted to make fun of his faith, so he asked, “How can bread and wine turn into the Body and Blood of Christ?” The Priest answered, “No problem. You yourself change food into your body and blood so why can’t Christ do the same?” But the man did not give up. He asked, “But how can the entire body of Christ be in such a small host?” “In the same way that the vast landscape before you can fit into your little eye.” But he still persisted, “How can the same Christ be present in all your churches at the same time?” The priest then took a mirror and let the man look into it. Then let the mirror fall to the ground and break and said to the skeptic. “There is only one of you and yet you can find your face reflected in each piece of that broken mirror at the same time.”
Today, we celebrate the solemn feast of Corpus Christi. It is a doctrinal feast established for three purposes:
1) to give God collective thanks for Christ’s abiding presence with us in the Eucharist and to honor him there;
2) to instruct the people in the mystery, faith and devotion surrounding the Eucharist, and
3) to teach us to appreciate and make use of the great gift of the Holy Eucharist, both as a sacrament and as a sacrifice.
Vatican II states that as a sacrifice “the holy Eucharist is the center and culmination of Christian life.” Why? Because it enables us to participate in Christ’s sacrifice as a present reality and to benefit from its fruits in our own lives.
Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist during the Last Supper as a sacramental banquet and a sacrificial offering. As a sacrament, the Holy Eucharist is an outward sign in and through which we meet Jesus who shares his life of grace with us. In this Sacrament of the Eucharist, we do meet Jesus the risen Lord who comes to us under signs of bread and wine to nourish and strengthen us for our journey through life. The Eucharistic Meal is a great mystery because during the Eucharistic celebration, the substance of the bread and the wine are converted into the substance of the risen Jesus’ body and blood, while their appearances (or ’accidents’), remain. We believe in this transformation of bread and wine (called Transubstantiation), because Jesus unequivocally taught it and authorized his apostles to repeat it. The Eucharist is the sacrament of our union with Jesus. In this sacrament, Jesus gives us his own Risen Body, broken for us on the cross and his precious Blood poured out for us, in order that our sins might be forgiven.
The Eucharistic celebration is also a sacrifice because it is the re-presentation or re-living in an unbloody manner of Christ’s Death on Good Friday and of his Resurrection on Easter Sunday. By means of signs, symbols and prayers, we share in Christ’s passion, death and resurrection made really present for us in an unbloody manner. This re-presenting, this re-living of the One Sacrifice of Christ, which is the heart and point of every Mass, assures us of Jesus’ love for us and of his forgiveness of our sins. Through this sacrifice, the risen Jesus becomes present on the altar, offering himself to the Father through the ministry of the priest.
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. Christ is the head and we are the body. Together we are one. That which unites us with Him and with each other 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.
By receiving Holy Communion we need to 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, sacrificial service.