• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Saturday, 17 June 2017 12:59

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ - 2017

Written by Fr Elmer Ibarra SVD

Feast of Corpus Christi
John 6:51-58

Fr Elmer Ibarra 150 BestIn almost all cultures, we show our hospitality by offering people food. For many of us, we see food as a way to connect, we see food as a way forge relationships. In the Mediterranean culture, it is no different, they see food not only as sustenance but it is a social event.

Jesus knew he would not remain on this earth forever. He knew that one day he would leave us and go back to the Father. So while on earth, he was looking for a way that even after he went, he would be remembered forever. Of course, there might be some people writing about him, there might be people who would be talking about him, but for Jesus this was not enough. He wanted an activity by which he would be remembered, and the Eucharist is definitely one of them.

For us Catholics, each Mass is actually a feast of Corpus Christi. We commemorate each Mass and affirm that what we receive is not only a piece of wafer and a sip of port wine, it is the Body and Blood of Christ.

In the gospel today, Jesus is being rebuked by a teaching which a lot of his followers have considered extremely difficult. That is, if one wants to live forever, he should be eat the flesh of the Son of Man and then drink his blood. For Jesus’ listeners, this is very hard teaching. Cannibalism has been a taboo for many centuries and society has frowned on it for a very long time. That is why for the followers of Jesus and even for us this day, it is almost impossible to understand what Jesus is talking about. Certainly Jesus is not talking about eating HIM, however there is still more to it and it is only during the Last Supper, on the evening before he died that it finally made sense when he took a piece of unleavened bread and said “This is my body.” And he took a chalice of wine and said “This is my blood.” And even this we still find it very difficult and yet we believe because Jesus said so.

Br. Keiran Fenn of the Marist Brothers living in “The Grove” in Lower Hutt, used to say that the people of God should be fed from the two tables, the table of the Word and the table of the Eucharist. And he is right. In the gospel for today, Jesus first fed the people from the table of the Word through his preaching. In every Mass that we attend, there is a very close emphasis on the Liturgy of the Word. It is in the Liturgy of the Word that we receive three readings. The first reading usually comes from the Old Testament or from the Acts of the Apostles. The first reading usually is selected in a way that it has a bit of a relationship with the Gospel reading. The Old Testament reading is giving us a background to be able to know the context of the Gospel Reading. In between the readings we recite a Psalm, as we go back to the old tradition of singing as an interlude before another reading. The Second Reading which usually comes from the Letters of St. Paul or the other apostles takes on a different topic altogether, they make up of a different series of readings which often times does not connect to either the gospel or the first reading but always provide good lessons for all those who are listening. The most important reading of them all is the Gospel, which comes from any of the four canonical gospels and are read in cycles consisting of three years. To show reverence to the reading of the Gospel, we are asked to stand while it is being read. And of course we know that the Gospel reading would be either from the events of Jesus’ life, his teachings or his parables. The gospel readings are chosen in a way that it is meant to show that Jesus’ works are the fulfilment of the Old Testament’s predictions.

Corpus Christi 350After all these readings, the Homily is the part where the preacher tries to unpack all the lessons in order that the congregation would be able to digest all readings. I remember years ago, after being ordained as a priest and before leaving the seminary for my mission assignment, a religious sister made a little request. She said that as much as I can, I should preach from the Bible and not from the newspaper. And until now, I hope I’m keeping this request.

After being fed from the Table of the Word, the Mass now shifts to the Table of the Eucharist. And this is pretty simple, in that what we receive is the greatest offering that Jesus ever gave. Jesus offered to us his body and blood. Through the words of institution uttered by the priest, the bread and the wine is transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Christ. And we must understand that after saying the words of institution, the bread which is now the body of Christ would remain to look like bread, would remain to taste like bread but is not bread any more but the Body of Christ. The same too is for the Blood of Christ, that after the priest saying the words of institution, the wine which is now the blood of Christ, would continue to look like wine and it doesn’t mean that it must be red wine, it can be white wine, it would continue to smell like wine and taste like wine but is now the Blood of Christ. Even though, we have to acknowledge that throughout the centuries in the Church, there has been some instances the bread actually physically transformed itself to a piece of human flesh, and the wine into actual human blood if only to help us erase of any doubt this phenomenon that happens in every mass that offered in every part of the world.

So as we celebrate this feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, let us continue to appreciate this great gift of Jesus to us. His majesty became incorporated into the humble piece of bread and simple wine as his body and blood so that he may become a part of us and also we may have some part of him. And in order to appreciate this more, why not every time the minister says, “The Body of Christ”, “The Blood of Christ”, why not instead of just whispering, we declare with all conviction the word “Amen.” The word “Amen” is a word to show that we truly believe that what we are receiving is the Body and Blood of Christ and also we are giving thanks to Jesus who gave us this most precious gift so that we will remember him forever and when the time comes that we will be at the gate of heaven, he would also remember us and let us in.