The Holy Eucharist: A Constant Reminder of God’s Love for us all
Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, or Corpus Christi Sunday. The feast dates back to the 12th century. Saint Juliana of Liege, an Augustinian who lived in present-day Belgium, is whom we have to thank for it. She was very talented and educated and was given the grace of absolute faith that the bread and wine presented at the Mass becomes the Real Presence of Jesus Christ. Until her time, the Body of Christ was not elevated after the Consecration. Her Eucharistic devotion became a movement that drove the desire of medieval Catholics to want to see the Body of Christ, so the elevation of the host began in Paris in 1220. Adoration became a regular practice as well.
Today, literally seeing the Eucharist certainly isn’t a problem, at every Mass the host and the chalice are elevated. But as a whole, I think the challenge today is seeing the deeper meaning of the Eucharist.
Our catechism states that with respect to Holy Communion, this is the sacrament in which we “unite ourselves to Christ who makes us sharers in his Body and Blood to form a single body.” (1330). Uniting ourselves to Christ, the catechism goes on to say that “The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist in Holy Communion is an intimate union with Christ Jesus. Indeed, the Lord said: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (1391). Through this, sins are also removed, as the Eucharist cleanses us from sin (1393).
First, it’s important to remember how much. God did not have to come to dwell among us and die for us; but He did, all out of love for us. Ponder that when you receive Communion – about how God loves you so very much, and how He gives us this sign of His love to help us on our journey through life in becoming better people. Turn your sins and struggles over to Him in your heart, and let Jesus free you from them. Know that no matter where you are at in life, God loves you – and He sees the inherent goodness in you, which is why He is with you in life every step of the way. The Eucharist is fuel for the journey through the week ahead. Sometimes receiving Holy Communion can be rather mechanical, but it is such a special moment where God is choosing to dwell within us, giving Himself to us. This is why it’s so important we are at Mass, not virtually at home, but with one another so we can receive Communion. Communion both frees us from sin, but gives us the strength to go into battle as we deal with the temptations of life and the world in the day or week ahead.
Secondly, as the name suggests, “Communion” is meant to bond us closer to one another. The catechism also tells us that the “Eucharist strengthens our charity” (1394). Communion is meant to unite us to one another, and as we reflect on receiving Holy Communion, we also need to ask ourselves how we grow in the fruits that we receive from the Eucharist. How welcoming are we of people, especially visitors, to our parish? How do we reach out to those in our lives who may be hurting? How do we work on forgiveness? Do we look at others in our lives and see who may be spiritually hungry and then try to give them spiritual food with love and prayer? Do we look at the world with optimism and hope, seeing good in people and try to help them, or just bemoan the world or judge others too harshly without trying to help them? How do we treat people on social media? Are we respectful of the human body and do we see others for body and soul? In a nutshell, we are to become what we receive.
Lastly, to go back to Pentecost, we are many parts but one body. The Eucharist hopefully opens up our eyes to how we can be of service to the greater world. One of the blessings is to see this in so many ways at our parish; people giving of their time and talent to help one another. Though the list of individuals who do so much for our parish is too extensive for this space, I’d like to specifically mention one person in particular who I’ve have the pleasure of knowing these last 8 years: Joyce Quy. I mention Joyce because she recently discerned now was a time to step down after many years of service leading an environmental team for the sanctuary. The environment of the sanctuary helps lift our souls to God, and prepares us for worship. You’ll notice it changes with the liturgical seasons, but also has flowers and plants that are watered and changed, and the sanctuary always looks so beautiful. Joyce has been a big part of that long since I arrived here in 2015 (she’s actually been at this for 39 years!) and she’ll continue to be an active member of our community but discerned now was a good time for the Holy Spirit to inspire others to take the lead. Joyce also does a lot of work with our children’s choir too. She’s truly a “super parishioner” and to borrow from her name, she is truly full of joy every time you see or or talk to her. She’s also been joined by a small army of cleaners who come in regularly on Monday mornings to keep the parish looking great. A big “thank you” to Joyce and to them for all of their hard work! Joyce, the team she works with, and so many truly live out the Eucharist every day.
Indeed, there is so much involved in the Eucharist it’s impossible to cover even the tip of the iceberg in a bulletin column. In Communion, Jesus gives up His body for you, and gives it to you to give you strength, and empowers you to pass this on to a hungry world through loving service. It’s such a wonderful gift, and my hope is we never take that for granted, and pass on the gift we have been given by growing in love for both our Lord and one another.
God bless and have a great week,
Download a PDF copy of this post here