Solemnity of Corpus Christi 2013. June 2, 2013.
Gen 14:18-20; 1Cor 11:23-26; Lk 9:11-17
A few days ago, I was reading about a book recently published in the United States titled, “Real men pray the Rosary.” I got interested about what was written about this book and I wanted to see more about this book. I saw the book on Amazon.com website along with a note that said, “Click on this to see inside.” I excitedly clicked on this and I got to see the contents of this book, some good previews of the book, and the first few pages of the book. Getting a chance to look into this book inflamed my earlier desire for this book and made me determined to get it. I immediately consulted one of my brother priests in the United States to get me a copy of the book and mail it to me. I am now waiting eagerly for the book to arrive in the mail to devour this book.
Sometimes the information or knowledge about a thing does not satisfy us. We need to have a fore-taste of it, a sort of preview of it to give a certain keenness and intensity to our desire. We are so used to having movie trailers give us snippets of upcoming movies to whet our appetite for these movies. Free food samples in the grocery stores increase our eagerness to purchase the products for ourselves.
What about our hunger for eternal life? Is there something that kindles our hope for the heavenly banquet? Is there something here on earth that can serve as a foretaste or preview of what the life of glory is going to be? Is there something that can give us a glimpse or let us “look inside” heaven here on earth so that our desire for heaven consumes us? The answer is a resounding “Yes” and that reality is the Eucharist. Our Lord Jesus Christ did more than merit eternal life for us. He did more than reveal the eternal life of heaven to us. He did more than suffer, die and rise from the grave to give us entrance into His heavenly kingdom. But He has given us a living memorial of His redeeming sacrifice in the Eucharist as a pledge of future glory, to whet our appetites and to make us courageous in striving for heaven at any cost.
Many Catholics see the Eucharist as just another of the Church’s many obligations. That is why many Catholics miss the Sunday Mass and casually confess to the priest in the Sacrament of Confession, “I did not make my Sunday Obligation.” But the Eucharist is much more than one more obligation. The Holy Eucharist is all about Christ’s Passion in three different ways. It is first a living memorial of Jesus’ redeeming sacrifice where we are spiritually present at Calvary by the re-presentation of Christ’s complete and eternal self-offering. It is also a meal in which we receive the true body, blood, soul and divinity of the Crucified Christ and receive the grace that Christ merited for us in His Passion. Lastly, the Eucharist prefigures and points to the heavenly glory that Christ’s Passion points to. Our sacramental communion is our way of “looking inside” heaven to increase our desire for full participation in the eternal banquet and our hope that we will receive from the Lord Jesus all that we need to enter into this eternal banquet.
St. Paul writes to the Christians in Corinth in the Second Reading to remind them of the mystery of the Eucharist that they take for granted in their own Eucharistic celebration. They had reduced the Eucharist to a mere communal meal without any connection to Christ’s passion or any consequence for their lives. St. Paul reminds them of the Real Presence of Jesus under the form of bread and wine as well as the connection between the Eucharistic meal and the Passion of Christ when he said, “Jesus took bread, and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me…This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” But St. Paul also stresses the future glory that the Eucharist prefigures when he said, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes.” The Eucharist is Christ’s pledge of future glory to us and a source of hope in the midst of the trials and sins of this world. In the Eucharist our longing for the time when God will be “everything to everyone,” when all our hopes and desires will be fulfilled, is greatly intensified to the point that we willingly suffer all for this glory.
But if we are going to have the memory of Christ’s passion imprinted on our hearts and fill us with love and confidence, if we are going to know the power of His grace here on earth, and if we are going to live with the certainty of hope of eternal glory here on earth and desire heaven and all that leads to heaven above all things, we must approach the Eucharist with the right attitude. We cannot continue approaching this sacrament as a mere obligation and hope to experience its fruits in our lives.
Today’s Gospel of the multiplication of loaves reminds us of certain attitudes that open us to the full effects of the Eucharist. In the first place, Jesus “taught them about the Kingdom and healed those who were in need of healing” before He worked the miracle of the multiplication of loaves. We too must be people open to the word of God, listening to it with faith and responding to His demands on us. We must listen attentively to the word of God in the scriptures read privately and in the Holy Mass. St. Augustine said, “The homily is meant to afflict the complacent and to heal the afflicted.” There is always a word of healing or challenge in the readings and homilies at Mass. Are we listening to God’s word without prejudice or are we blocking out what is not acceptable to us or not fashionable in our world?
Secondly, Jesus healed them before He fed them. He heals us in the Sacrament of Confession before He feeds us with Himself in Holy Communion. By receiving this sacrament of Confession regularly before attending Mass, we let the divine healer remove obstacles of sin that hinder us from getting the entire package that the Good Shepherd offers us in Holy Communion. Are we honest and humble enough to go in search of the divine healer before coming to the altar for communion?
Thirdly, Jesus told His disciples, “Give them some food yourselves.” He invites them to bring all that they have before the miracle can occur. It is only the loaves that are lovingly offered that are multiplied. In the Offertory of the Holy Mass, we too have the opportunity to bring all that we have and are and hand them to Jesus as the gifts of bread and wine are being presented at the altar. We must have this spirit of complete surrender of everything to Him – our joys, hopes, fears, sufferings, illnesses, struggles, sins, relationships, etc. The Eucharist is an exchange – Christ offers Himself for what we bring to Him. Nothing is too insignificant not to be offered to Him. Is there any aspect of our lives that we have not surrendered to Him?
Lastly, the disciples who had earlier asked Jesus to dismiss the crowd were now ready to serve the over 5,000 people that day. They served and made the “crowds sit down in groups of about fifty.” They also received the multiplied bread from Jesus and “set them before the crowd.” After the crowd “all ate and were satisfied,” the same disciples picked up the fragments that filled twelve wicker baskets. Our own Eucharistic meal must inspire in us too a love that seeks the happiness of others. We cannot truly recognize Jesus in the Eucharist and ignore Him in our needy brothers and sisters.
We live in a world of constant struggle. It is so easy for us to get weary with sins and hardships of life. Life may even appear unfair to us. The devil, the father of lies, is working hard to make us give up the struggle to make it to heaven. We futilely attempt to get our self-worth from the world or from worldly accomplishments or possessions. Our own failures in the spiritual life can discourage us. We may no longer believe in the Father’s love for us. What we need is to grasp Christ’s pledge of eternal constantly renewed on the Eucharistic table. In this living memorial of His Passion, we catch a glimpse of His unconditional love and we are strengthened to fight to the end no matter the wounds we have or the sacrifices involved.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, Christ has won heaven for us. He is not satisfied in telling us about it. He is not satisfied in giving us His grace. His Passion is not just something to be remembered. But in the Eucharist, His Passion has become a living memorial, an ever present “look inside” the eternal banquet of heaven, something that whets our desire for the eternal glory and fills us with hope and the courage to pay whatever price to enter into His eternal joy. If we come before the Eucharist with the right attitude, we will surely have an intense desire for heaven, know His peace too, and be sure that He will give us all that we need to enter into His eternal rest. No matter what we face in life, we will know ourselves as God’s beloved children destined for heaven.
It is only when we approach the Mass with the right attitude that His pledge of eternal life becomes real for us and we anticipate heavenly glory and the happiness of the eternal banquet. It is then that we will desire heaven so intensely that we will be willing to pay any price to be with Him for all eternity in the one eternal banquet. Come!! Let us look inside heaven in this Eucharistic celebration.