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Corpus Christi B


cappie

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Today, we are observing a Feast that officially dates back to the 13th century but unofficially to the earliest days of the Christian Church. The Feast (or Solemnity) of Corpus Christi is a day set aside to commemorate not only the institution of the Lord’s Supper but the Real Presence of Christ.

Corpus Christi gives us an opportunity to reflect upon and celebrate the deep joy we find in our experience of Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament. 

In many ways the rites for Corpus Christi are reminiscent of Maundy Thursday and include a procession of the Blessed Sacrament. Unlike Maundy Thursday, which shifts the focus from the Lord’s Supper to the Gospel account of Jesus washing the feet of the Disciples, Corpus Christi keeps our attention on the Blessed Sacrament at the Altar and the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ blessed, broken, and shared among us to give spiritual life to us and to the world.

Holy Communion was not just a bit of bread and wine consumed in memory. Rather, in some profound mysterious way these elements of creation held within them the very substance of Christ and through the Holy Spirit could unite us to Christ in his sacrificial love and by that union we could partake of spiritual healing and strength and in fact become ourselves agents of God’s Grace to bring blessing to the world.

For first century Christians Holy Communion was so important, so mysterious that only baptized members of the community could even be present. Following the liturgy of the Word, which probably ended with a homily and prayers of the people, new people were escorted from the assembly to a separate space to receive instruction in the faith. There were two reasons for this. The first of course had to do with respect for the profound sacredness of the Rite, and the symbolism of the ritual would have had no meaning or would have been confusing to someone who had not been educated in the faith.

We cannot separate ourselves from the essence of what we have eaten. In the same way when we have consumed the Christ really present in the Sacred Elements of Communion, we incorporate his divine person into our own. We cannot define where Christ ends and we begin for he is in us and because he is eternal with God and no longer flesh, we are in him as well.

Jesus used these symbols to get at the heart of relationship with God. To be in full communion with God is to be consumed by the Holy Spirit, eaten up with the divine. We consume the bread of life and Christ becomes us as we become Christ.

There really is no way to understand this Mystery. It must be experienced. As Christians we believe that something precious and profound happens when we gather together in holy fellowship around the Altar to share in the Communion of the Blessed Sacrament. We believe that in some way Christ becomes present, whether in the bread and wine or in the community of believers gathered…we know our Lord to be with us. And one cannot be in the presence of God and remain unchanged. In the Blessed Sacrament we find strength for reconciliation, comfort for affliction, healing for the soul and the body. It is the Kingdom made present, a direct connection to the Communion of saints. It is the thinnest place where earth and heaven meet, and the ordinary becomes sacred.

Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ…the Word made flesh and the flesh made bread…bread from heaven that once eaten brings life and immortality. Brothers and Sisters, in the Blessed Sacrament we come as close to Christ as we can in this life. Through the Holy Spirit our Lord is with us and in us and we in turn are with and in him…given life in the spirit, strength for holy work and healing for soul and body. This is gift…this is blessing….this is grace.


 

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