Lord, give us this Bread always
The feast of the most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christ) invites us to contemplate what keeps us alive a Catholic Church. Jesus, in the most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist gives Himself as food for us. Our catholic understanding of the real presence of the Lord Jesus in the consecrated bread and wine distinguishes us from other Christian churches. This is something that nobody should rob us of. As today’s responsorial psalm will say: “He has not done thus for any other nation” (Ps 147, 20). God feeds us with the best wheat (Ps 147, 14). This “best wheat” is Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist.
Remember the Lord your God!
In the institutional accounts of the Eucharist or the Lord’s Supper (Mt 26, 26-30; Mk 14, 22-26; Lk 22, 14-20), Jesus gave us a memorial of His self-sacrifice so that we may have life. We ought to remember the love which enabled Him to endure the great suffering on Calvary. He let Himself be broken so as to heal our brokenness. He is consumed so as to give life. Whenever we celebrate the Eucharist, we do it in His memory. We relive the paschal mystery.
In today’s first reading Moses makes a great exhortation to the people he is accompanied to the Promised Land: “You shall not forget the Lord your God!” (Dt 8, 18). He was aware of the danger that threatens human memory, namely, comfort. After the strenuous desert wandering, the people would easily forget what God did for them on that forty years journey. One of the main remembrances on the journey was that He fed them with manna. The food they received had a spiritual dimension, because they had to get it daily. This means that for their survival they had to rely entirely on God forty years long. This gives us the foundation for the petition in the prayer of the Lord: “Give us this day our daily bread!” Just as we need daily nourishment for our bodies, so are we alive spiritually when we take in the body and blood of Jesus. Just as the prophet Elijah was told to eat in order to have strength for the forty day’s journey to the mountain of God (1Kings 19, 5-8), so are we encouraged to take in Christ or else we have no strength on the journey to eternal life.
Jesus is really present in bread and wine
One of the hard teachings of Jesus is that about his body being food and blood being drink. In order to grasp this teaching one needs a living faith. Those who heard these words were scandalized. The evangelist John will say that after that many never wanted to move with Him anymore. His teachings and miraculous deeds had impressed them but the impression proved to be superficial. Eating the body of Jesus implies intimacy with Him. He plants Himself in us so that we may remain united with Him. This is real communion. Our faith tells us that through the invocation of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of bread and wine are transformed into His body and blood and thus become for us our spiritual food. It is important to note that the gifts of bread and wine are fruits of human struggle. The human life is characterized by toil especially to secure what to eat. In the celebration of the Eucharist, fruits of human work are taken to be the medium of encounter with Christ who transforms all our struggles into life. He takes what we give Him and give them back to us so that we may have enough strength for the journey of life. We ought to work hard in order to remove whatever prevents us from receiving the Eucharist, the source of our life.
Celebration of communion
In the Eucharist we receive the Lord in His most holy body and blood. Just as bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Christ, the assembled are transformed by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. This helps us to avoid any magical understanding of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the sign and source of unity of the Church. Our participation in communion, eating of the one bread should fortify the unity that we have received as a community of the faithful. It would be absurd to see a divided community whose members receive communion. Everyone who eats the body of Christ is called upon to be a living stone in building up the body of Christ, the Church.
Nostalgia for the Eucharist
The clearest effects of the Covid-19 pandemic is the suspension of the liturgical assemblies especially the celebration of the Eucharist. Of course people have been encouraged to pray at home and to participate via live streaming, but the community aspect is being missed dearly. Many have expressed their hunger for the Eucharist. This hunger is a very good sign, because it increases the desire for the reopening of the churches for the celebration of the Eucharist. It shows that the Eucharist should never be taken for granted. Our civil authorities, while distributing material food to the people, ought not to forget that people also need another type of food. As we ask the Lord to give us this bread always, we also appeal to the concerned authorities to us the opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist. We shall follow all the directives. We are hungry.
Since many of you cannot participate in the celebration of the Eucharist and procession with the Blessed Sacrament on the Feast of Corpus Christi, here a suggestion for the spiritual communion: “My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love you above all things, and I desire to receive you into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive you sacramentally, comes at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace you as if you were already there and unite myself wholly to you. Never permit me to be separated from you. Amen.”