Dear Followers of the Christ,
During this year of pandemic, we have all learned a great deal about food. At times, we have not been able to share a meal indoors with family and loved ones at a restaurant. We have been alone for many holidays that normally are brimming with food, drink and conversation. We have all watched on television or on the internet the long lines of people waiting for food distribution in various parts of the country. Many people who have never asked for food before, have been in those meandering lines because they lost jobs during this past year. We have also witnessed on various social media platforms many people who have served food to others, especially celebrity chefs who have given away their own money in order to feed people. We have learned much about food insecurity and hunger across the globe during our shut-in months from our global pandemic. Issues of food are still everywhere.
We have also been distant from the Eucharist. Many people have not received communion in over a year. Many folks miss the Real Presence, and many have given up on returning. The Eucharist that we celebrate today is food for today, for tomorrow, and for all eternity. We celebrate today, the Body and Blood of Christ, commonly referred to as Corpus Christi. This is our real food.
Today’s gospel, Mark 14: 12-16, 22-36, brings us into the tight quarters of the Upper Room. On the night before Jesus died, Jesus gathered those he had chosen to share a meal. In this intimate setting, Jesus shared his desire to be with his disciples forever. It was a meal unlike anything the disciples had shared before. In the midst of sharing a meal, he broke bread with them and told them he would be in the world forever. He held a cup of wine and repeated such empowering words. Through his suffering, his death and resurrection, he would remain always as food for people in despair, in loss and in the joy of life here on earth.
In the context of the meal in the Upper Room, something else happened. He also took a basin and washed the feet of those who were with him. This act of generativity, of service, of extending the meal to help people is the beginning of sharing the actions of prayer and service. This action is key in the mission of the Church. The Eucharist is not just a meal or offering in the church sanctuary, but the Mass becomes a way of life for every Christian.
We have celebrated forms of this mystery throughout the world ever since the Upper Room. As we lift up the Body of Christ at the altar, we also lift up those who are hungry for God, the sick, the lonely, and the tormented. As we lift up the Blood of Christ, we lift up those who sip the Cup of Salvation who are longing for sobriety, for release of doubt and sin and for a new sense of belonging. The Eucharist is action among us, transforming our hearts into the message of love that is the Kingdom of God. This Kingdom is right now, here before us on earth.
The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is not a personal piety alone. This feast celebrates us on earth since we are also named the Body of Christ through our baptism. We, as Church, are witness to what we celebrate at Mass. We also become what we celebrate. The Church challenges us to live this mystery as a people redeemed in love. We are the Body of Christ and we break open our lives in service and in integrity for other people, just as the host is broken to be shared among us. The Eucharist makes sense when the poor are fed, when the sinner is forgiven and when the oppressed find justice. The Eucharist makes sense when we are all brought into communion, into unity with God and one another.
While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
God give you peace,
Fr. Ron Raab, CSC, Pastor