The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a
Psalm 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20
1 Corinthians 10:16-17
Moses speaks to the Israelites of how they were “afflicted with hunger” and God fed them “with manna, a food unknown” to them. We identify the manna as “bread” but it was a type of bread that was previously unknown to the Israelites. It was an earthly substance. In their physical hunger, God provided this bread.
Today we are here to celebrate how God feeds our spiritual hunger with another “food unknown” before. It is the Eucharist, the bread of life. The Eucharist is offered to us in the form of bread and wine but through the consecration it becomes so much more, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
On Holy Thursday, we celebrate the Institution of the Eucharist but we also celebrate the Washing of the Feet and the Institution of the Priesthood. Today’s solemnity focuses solely on the Eucharist.
I talked about the Eucharist on Holy Thursday and what it means to us. I talked again about at the beginning of May as six of our children received their First Communion. I’ve talked about it on other occasions and I will continue to talk about it. The Eucharist is that important. It is the source and summit of who we are as Catholics.
One of the ways we talk about the Eucharist is as a meal. It is food that feeds our spiritual hunger. We live in a culture that wants everything now. This includes our food. How many fast food restaurants are there? Many families no longer sit down together to enjoy a meal together. They are always on the go.
The Eucharist is not meant to be fast food. We receive the Eucharist in the context of Mass. The whole Mass takes maybe an hour (we make even shorter in the summer). We take time to enter into God’s presence with prayers and readings. We need to reflect on what it means to participate in the Blood of Christ, to participate in the Body of Christ.
As I said before, the Eucharist is the source and summit of who we are. In recognition of this and realizing people don’t always understand this, you may have read in the Catholic Courier that Bishop Matano has called for a Year of the Eucharist for us to grow in our understanding of the Eucharist.
In the coming year I will speak more often about the Eucharist and the Mass in my homilies. I will offer some presentations on the Eucharist and the Mass to talk about the Real Presence and to help us understand and appreciate what goes on at Mass. We will also work towards some times for Adoration with the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. We will reflect on the Eucharist that empowers us for the ministries we do.
Now, I want to talk about our postures at Mass. At times we stand, others we kneel, and at times we sit. The postures we take are not random but are meant to reflect our attitude.
For instance, at the beginning of Mass we stand as the procession comes in to welcome God coming into our presence. We sit for the readings not just for comfort but so that we might remain still to hear the readings (if we were all standing we might fidget and cause distraction to others). We stand again for the Gospel as Jesus comes present among us in the Words of the Gospel.
As we enter into the Eucharistic Prayer we kneel as a recognition of the holiness of what is going on. We stand for the Our Father recognizing that through the sacrifice we celebrate in the Eucharist we have been made worthy to rise.
With this in mind, back in 2003 Bishop Clark decreed that we remain standing after the Lamb of God. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal clearly stated that this was for the Bishop to decide. There are theological and historical arguments for both.
If you read Bishop Matano’s Pastoral Letter in the Catholic Courier, you know that he has now decreed that after the Lamb of God we will return to the practice of kneeling until we come forth for Communion. So we will begin doing that today. Everything else will remain the same, we will bow just before we receive Communion, receive standing, and then return to our pews and kneel.
Let us pray that this Year of the Eucharist help us deepen our Eucharist of what the Eucharist is for us.