Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Genesis 14: 18-20
I Corinthians 11: 23-26
Luke 9: 11b-17
In 1970, the separate feasts for the Body of Christ, held on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, and the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, on July 1, were combined into The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, celebrated on the Sunday after Trinity Sunday.
There are many ways to describe the Eucharist. On Holy Thursday, the emphasis is on the institution of the Eucharist as one of Jesus’ last acts before his suffering and death. I would like to reflect on the "community" aspect of the Eucharist.
Pope John Paul II said: "The celebration of the Eucharist, however, cannot be the starting point for communion; it presupposes that communion already exits, a communion which it seeks to consolidate and bring to perfection."
We can tend to think of "going to Mass" as an individual duty. People talk about "hearing Mass" or being "at Mass." People ask questions, like, "Who said the Mass?" Being at Mass can become a private affair. I might wish to be left alone in a secluded pew, closing my eyes to block out all those faces around me so that I can pray to God about my concerns and my needs.
The whole point of being at Mass is to celebrate joyfully together our common discipleship as a community of Christ. What we celebrate tells us who we are: the Body of Christ. Together we celebrate, together we give praise and thanksgiving, together we pray for one another, together we are nourished by the Word and the Body and Blood of Christ, together we become the Eucharist for each other.
The Mass challenges us to become community. At the beginning of Mass we are invited to sing, make the sign of the cross, reflect on God’s mercy, offer God praise and present to God our concerns in the opening prayer. All these elements have one purpose: to draw us into being a community, to help take us from our private, individual world to a communal world as baptized followers of Christ. The sign of the cross and the sprinkling of water remind of us our Baptism, by which we have become brothers and sisters in Christ.
A few years ago I remember a priest using the image of a jigsaw puzzle to describe the Eucharist. The puzzle in the box contains a picture. You cannot tell what that picture is until you assemble the puzzle. When you take the puzzle out of the box and fit the pieces together, the picture then becomes visible. When we assemble at Mass and connect with each other as a community, we make visible who we are as Church
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P., in his new book, "Our Hearts at Sunday Mass", stated, "A congregation that participates together with full, heart-felt and Spirit-inspired worship will have great things happen to them and through them."
Why do you go to Mass?
Fr. Don Webber, C.P., is Provincial Superior of Holy Cross Province and resides in Chicago.