Having experienced the great “Eucharistic Fast” from the COVID Pandemic (a fast some of our sisters and brothers are still enduring, mind you), I can only hope that this year’s Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (aka, Corpus Christi) has even more significance. Precisely because of our need for tangible experience and in-person presence, Jesus has provided us this great gift of the Eucharist. Jesus knew His disciples needed more than mere words, teachings, commandments. They… we needed more than sermons and Scriptures – as important and helpful as those are. But just as our salvation required an in-person sacrifice upon the Cross, our participation in that salvation requires an in-person sharing. In part, this is why livestream Masses do not suffice. They were and are an aid to bridge a significant divide, but they cannot replace the prospect of being there face-to-face. Just ask those who would do anything to be able to return to Mass in person.
The Gift of the Eucharist makes this in-person encounter possible. Not as mere symbol or sign, not some simple remembrance, but His True Presence – Body & Blood, Soul & Divinity. Through the promise of Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the prayer of the Church – the Bride of Christ, ordinary bread and wine is changed, transformed, and altered into that which it seemingly cannot be – The True and Enduring Presence of Christ. His saving love continued to be incarnate for you and I, here and now. The Bridegroom given to and received by the Bride.
St Paul, who was not yet a follower of Christ when He hosted the Last Supper in the Upper Room and gave the Eucharist, was clear to reiterate this truth and teaching again when he wrote to the Corinthians, correcting their errant ways. We too should recognize its importance.
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. (I Cor 11: 23-29)
The Eucharist was important enough to the early Christians to protect and give their life. It should be vitally and centrally important to us. Hopefully, these past weeks have reminded us of this deep truth; this tremendous gift from God.
Trying to determine if you should come to Mass in person… I’ve put together a decision tree to aid in your discernment (see below). Archbishop Thompson has lifted the required Sunday obligation until August 15. Yet, I know most of you attend Mass out of love and devotion for Christ in the Scriptures and Sacrament more than mere obligation.
Jesus Christ Truly Present in the Eucharist, Pray for us.
~ Fr Jeremy M. Gries