Saturday, June 25, 2011

Corpus Christi

"I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh."
 – John 6:51

Corpus Christi – the body of Christ

Our Holy Father Benedict XVI shared with us some beautiful and inspiring thoughts about the Eucharist in his homily in celebration of the feast of Corpus Christi. In his homily he elaborates on a vision of St. Augustine.
St. Augustine helps us to understand the dynamics of holy Communion when referring to a kind of vision he had, in which Jesus said to him: "I am the food of the mature: grow, then, and you shall eat me. You will not change me into yourself like bodily food; but you will be changed into me"(Confessions, VII, 10, 18). Therefore, while the bodily food is assimilated by the body and contributes to sustain it, the Eucharist is a different bread: We do not assimilate it, but it assimilates us to itself, so that we become conformed to Jesus Christ and members of his body, one with him. This is a decisive passage. Indeed, precisely because it is Christ who, in Eucharistic communion, transforms us into him, our individuality, in this encounter, is opened up, freed from its self-centeredness and placed in the Person of Jesus, who in turn is immersed in the Trinitarian communion. Thus, while the Eucharist unites us to Christ, we open ourselves to others making us members one of another: We are no longer divided, but one thing in him. Eucharistic communion unites me to the person next to me, and to the one with whom perhaps I might not even have a good relationship, but also to my brothers and sisters who are far away, in every corner of the world. Thus the deep sense of social presence of the Church is derived from the Eucharist, as evidenced by the great social saints, who have always been great Eucharistic souls. Those who recognize Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, recognize their brother who suffers, who is hungry and thirsty, who is a stranger, naked, sick, imprisoned, and they are attentive to every person, committing themselves, in a concrete way, to those who are in need.
As Christians we strive to become one with Christ. For Catholics this union is accomplished most perfectly through the sacrament of the Eucharist. As we become one with Christ, we also become one with each other. And as we begin to see the world through the eyes of Christ, we begin to recognize our God given duty to serve our brothers and sisters in need.

In the closing of his homily, the Holy Father gives us further insight in how the Eucharist transforms not only us, but the whole world through us. He begins by saying that this is not through some sort of magic.
There is nothing magic in Christianity. There are no shortcuts, but everything passes through the patient and humble logic of the grain of wheat that is broken to give life, the logic of faith that moves mountains with the gentle power of God. This is why God wants to continue to renew humanity, history and the cosmos through this chain of transformations, of which the Eucharist is the sacrament. Through the consecrated bread and wine, in which his Body and Blood is truly present, Christ transforms us, assimilating us in him: He involves us in his redeeming work, enabling us, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, to live according to his same logic of gift, like grains of wheat united with him and in him. Thus unity and peace, which are the goal for which we strive, are sown and mature in the furrows of history, according to God's plan.

Without illusions, without ideological utopias, we walk the streets of the world, bringing within us the Body of the Lord, like the Virgin Mary in the mystery of the Visitation. With the humble awareness that we are simple grains of wheat, we cherish the firm conviction that the love of God, incarnate in Christ, is stronger than evil, violence and death. We know that God is preparing for all people new heavens and new earth where peace and justice prevail -- and by faith we glimpse the new world, that is our true home.
We do not seek to build an "ideological utopia" like various political movements do. Christ does not accomplish his work through societal revolutions, but rather through personal transformations.

The "peace and justice" of God are not the same as the imperfect peace and justice of this world.

Peace be with you.
And with your spirit.

1 comment:

  1. Corpus Christi is normally celebrated by Catholics on a Thursday which links it to the Last Supper. But in the US the bishops have moved the celebration a Sunday. So the Pope already celebrated Corpus Christi this Thursday in the Vatican. I'm looking forward to the annual Corpus Christi procession tomorrow.