Body and Blood of Christ—C

Today the Church is not celebrating what we receive, but whom we receive. It’s a difference we should fully grasp.

This feast, often referred to as Corpus Christi, emerged in medieval EU through the urging of St. Julianna (of Cornillon), a Belgian mystic and prioress who had visions that directed her to strive to establish a feast in which greater devotion was focused on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Ultimately the feast, as we now know it, became established throughout the Church, and with the guidance of the papal theologian, St. Thomas Aquinas.

Apparently, even in medieval EU, those who understood well the meaning of the Eucharist saw the need to call the people to a deeper level of appreciation for whom it was and what receiving worthily brings to the people.

How often have you heard it said, “I don’t have to attend Mass to be a good Catholic.” One might ask in return what they understand a “good” Catholic to be?
Amazingly, this doesn’t just come from those who are younger, who may not have had the catechesis older members feel they have had (in the good, ole days). I’ve heard the same feelings expressed by older members of the church, who feel they can no longer get around well enough to go to Mass—with the attitude they can “just watch it on TV”. Though able to go to doctors, hairdressers, family events, card club, etc., they seem to feel watching TV Mass is “good enough.”

But what makes us uniquely Catholic and is and has always been seen as the heart of who we are as a Catholic people, is our celebration of the real presence of Jesus Christ in the midst of the gathered community. It is in the Eucharist that we come to share in Jesus’ offer of salvation.

Anything less than that gathered celebration in the context of the assembly—falls short of understanding the profound meaning of whom we receive, not what. It isn’t something that can come to us if we are at the lake that day or can come to us over the medium of television.

The ideal is to be a part of the celebration and to physically receive the very Body and Blood of Jesus—his very real presence—and keeping holy that day the Church has set aside, in light of the command from Jesus himself, “Do this in remembrance of me”,

The Eucharist received in the context of Holy Mass is the culmination of the perfect prayer! It is the ultimate gift of Christ for his people’s spiritual nourishment. It is the bread of Angels, the bread of life that came down from heaven. It is food for the journey of life when one truly understands what life is all about.

It is the most perfect source of becoming Christ-like. You potentially become that which you receive.

Be present with God’s gathered people, offer what you have, however much or little, and it will be Christ who multiplies it in order that we not only are fed, but to where we can go forth to feed and nourish others as well.

How can the good Catholic refuse to be present to such a wonderful exchange, such a wonderful gift of Jesus himself. It is a gift of the covenant that Jesus made with his Church, to be with them always. The Real Presence is at the heart of what it means to be a Catholic Christian! Christ makes himself uniquely present within his church. Even if one cannot receive for some reason, just being present before this Divine Presence, is of great importance and spiritual value.

Somewhat like understanding the covenantal bond of marriage; how can one not prefer to be present to, with, and celebrate their bond of love and do so with frequency, desiring that time spent together more than other events of life? It’s a solid building block of the relationship.