First Reading: Gn 14:18-20
Second Reading: 1 Cor 11:23-26
Gospel Reading: Lk 9:11b-17
This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. Last Sunday, the Feast of Pentecost, we heard how Christ left the Church his Spirit; this Sunday, St. Paul recounts how he left us his Flesh.
This provision for our spiritual hunger had been foreshadowed by the offering of Melchizedek, as we hear in the First Reading, and by Christ’s own miraculous feeding of the five thousand, as we hear in the Gospel Reading.
The Catholic Church (and the Orthodox) take the words of Christ in his institution of the Eucharist in their plain sense, not just figuratively. In this respect, only these Churches are truly evangelical and fundamentalist.
In the book Surprised By Truth, 11 converts describe the Eucharist.
“The Mass is a prayer to God the Father in the name of Christ, our great High Priest, who continually makes present his once-for-all sacrifice of Calvary to the Father,” said one. “At Mass, by a miracle of Christ’s grace, we are made present at the foot of the cross, so that we too may offer ourselves in union with him as a living sacrifice to our heavenly Father.
“My reading of Catholic works on the Eucharist showed me a profound connection between the Old Testament Passover sacrifice and the Mass. The Passover sacrifice was not considered complete until the people had eaten the Passover lamb, whose blood, sprinkled on the doorposts and lintels of their homes, protected them from the Angel of Death.
“In the same way Jesus Christ our Lord, the true Lamb of God, invites us to partake of the sacrificial, eucharistic meal, his own Body and Blood. He promised this gift to his disciples and he fulfilled his promise in the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, when he gave them his Body and Blood to eat and drink as the true Passover Lamb that would be sacrificed.”
Quoting St. Paul’s words in this Sunday’s Second Reading, she continues, “I had read these passages hundreds of times, but they had never made much of an impression on me. But now that I had been exposed to the theology of the Mass, the truth of the Catholic interpretation of these verses became immediately apparent to me.
“I found that all early Church testimony is the same. The earliest Christians unanimously believed that the Eucharist truly is the Body and Blood of the Lord, and they believed that the Mass is a holy sacrificial meal through which they could partake of the Lord’s Body and Blood.
“The real presence of Christ in the Eucharistic sacrifice and meal is the centre and focus of Christian life and worship, for daily we are given the awesome opportunity to offer ourselves and our intentions as a living sacrifice to the Father through Jesus the Son, in union with him, dying with him, and receiving from his perfect sacrifice a meal by which we receive immortality and share in the very life of God.
“It is staggering, and the greatest privilege we can know on earth.”
As a man once said to me, “It’s enough to make you want to go to Mass every day!”
It is, indeed. Why do we not see more Catholics at Mass every day? With the number of Catholic churches within reach and the choice of Mass times available, it should be possible for just about everyone to go to Mass every day.
Many people do. If we do not, it must be because we do not appreciate God’s gift of himself in the Holy Eucharist. Then we should take to heart Christ’s warning: “If you do not eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you have no (supernatural) life in you. He who feeds on my Flesh and drinks my Blood has life eternal and I will raise him up on the last day.”
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