Monday, June 27, 2011

The Challenge of Eucharist

Yesterday was Corpus Christi Sunday, the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.

And on this day at the worship service of my faith community, the Spirit of St. Stephen's Catholic Community, two young people, including Jonatan, pictured at right, made their First Communion. It was a very inspiring ritual – full of beauty, meaning and the presence of our loving God.

The homily that day, too, was very inspiring. Following are excerpts.

Relationships and community . . . [are] the difference between just attending Mass and celebrating Eucharist. In this gathering of people [we call Eucharist], Jesus becomes truly present to be consumed, absorbed, made one with each of us. And we, consciously, knowingly, willingly open ourselves to that presence within us and among us . . . and what that means when we leave this gathering.

Eucharist is not just Jesus' body and blood. It is Jesus, as he did at the Last Supper, saying, "This is my body, broken for you; this is my blood poured out for the world. Do this in memory of me. Gather for a meal, for community, for mutual support and encouragement. Then go give your body and shed your blood in the service of others." Gathering for this Eucharistic meal, we are blessed to eat the bread prepared by the hands of one of our community members, the bread consecrated by our community. In the context of this community, we are challenged to be the bread of life, to do for one another what Jesus did, namely to be nourishment for one another's lives and being, to care for one another as for oneself, to be for one another manna in the wilderness.

Father Ron Rohlheiser says that , "The Eucharist invites us to become like the kernels of wheat that make up the bread and the clusters of grapes that make up the wine, broken down and crushed so that we can become part of a communal loaf and single cup.

Occasionally when St. Augustine was giving the Eucharist to a communicant, instead of saying, "The Body of Christ", he would say: "Receive what you are." That puts things correctly. What is supposed to happen at the Eucharist is that we, by sacrificing the things that divide us, should become the body and blood of Christ. More so than the bread and wine, we, the people, are meant to be changed" into the Body and Blood of Christ. That is the real transubstantiation!

. . . Today, as we celebrate First Communion with Jonatan and Noah, as we celebrate Eucharist, let us renew our own commitment to be Eucharistic people, willing to be bread that is blessed, broken and given for each other and for the life of the world.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Celebrating and Embodying Divine Hospitality
"Receive What You Are, the Body of Christ"
Trusting God's Generous Invitation
Take This Bread
Reflections on Corpus Christi Sunday (2009)
"Take, All of You, and Eat": Communion and the Rainbow Sash (Part 1)
"Take, All of You, and Eat": Communion and the Rainbow Sash (Part 2)
"Take, All of You, and Eat": Communion and the Rainbow Sash (Part 3)
My Rainbow Sash Experience
"Homodevotion" to the Body of Christ
Corpus Christ (2007)


Mareczku said...

Thanks for sharing this beautiful story.

Beth in MN said...

Great pictures Michael! I won't have time to post mine till next week.