Thursday, June 19, 2014

"Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life"

This Sunday, June 22, 2014, is a capstone of all the celebrations since Holy Week. The Feast of Corpus Christi gives us the one very important matter that still needs to come before us: the sacrament of the Eucharist. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study sessions with family, friends and church groups.

The Church situates this Sunday's feast immediately after the celebration of last Sunday's Feast of the Trinity and the Pentecost the week before that. No matter how you approach these feasts, the Pentecost and the Trinity both honor an invisible God. Not so the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ! The Nazarene is eminently seeable and embraceable. When John records the words of Jesus that "the bread that I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh," he is giving us his account of the institution of the Eucharist.

The Real Presence

The Catholic Church teaches that in the Eucharist, the wafer and the wine really become the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Don't be surprised if you've met people who find this a bit hard to take. When Jesus spoke about eating his flesh and drinking his blood in John 6, the response was less than enthusiastic. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (V52). “This is a hard saying who can listen to it?” (V60).

Our evangelical brethren speak often of an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus. But Marcellino D'Ambrosio asks, how much more personal and intimate than the Eucharist can you get? We receive the Lord’s body into our physical body that we may become him whom we receive. Even the Old Testament foreshadowed the Eucharist. Joe Heschmeyer points out for us the five different ways the Eucharist is prefigured in the Old Testament and what each of those things shows us about the Eucharist. Meanwhile Fr. Paul Gunter, OSB discusses the theology behind receiving Communion under both species - Body and Blood.

Among other things, the Eucharist is a memorial. Fr. Ron Rolheiser says it is a ritual re-enactment of Christ’s sacrifice of Himself for us. The reason for what we will do this Sunday – celebrating with the monstrance, the music, the procession – isn’t to glorify an inanimate object, a bit of bread contained in glass. It is to remind the world that in that bread we have been given Christ. Not an idea, symbol or an abstract bit of arcane theology. Deacon Greg Kandra reminds us that when you look at that host -- you look at Christ. The Eucharist is the Gospel made Sacrament, adds Fr. James Gilhooley

Faithful Reception of the Eucharist

If the Eucharist is the true Body and Blood of Jesus, why do we take the Mass so casually? Fr. Phil Bloom observes that for many people it seems the Eucharist is no big deal. We don’t truly realize what is happening. Before receiving the Eucharist, we have the Sign of Peace, meant to express our desire for pardon and reconciliation before receiving Christ. Unfortunately, we have taken this ancient gesture and turned it into a social event. Also when the choir begins the Lamb of God, are we focusing our attention on Jesus, truly present in the Chalice and in the Bread, now broken on the altar? We must give the Mass due reverence and revise our understanding, our disposition and our attitudes, explains Fr. Alex McAllister SDS.

Receiving our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is a graced moment and requires us to be rightly disposed and not conscious of serious sin in our lives. In St. John's introduction to this Sunday's Gospel, he spells out in great detail the absolute necessity of faith for a fruitful reception of the Eucharist. Fr. John Foley, S. J. says this Sacrament is the way we join in the physical life of Christ. His body becomes one with our bodies in an intimate transformation. Therefore it is of utmost importance to remember  that when we receive Communion, we become the monstrance in which Our Lord tabernacles. And, Joe Heschmeyer points out, that is why we need the Sacrament of Confession.

We are the Body of Christ

What is supposed to happen at the Eucharist is that we, the congregation, by sacrificing the things that divide us, should become the body and blood of Christ. More so than the bread and wine, we, the people, are meant to be changed, to be transubstantiated. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says this is what it means to be a Catholic. We are people of the Body and Blood of the Lord.

When Jesus invites us to eat his flesh and drink his blood, Fr. Orlando Sapuay, MS says Jesus is inviting us to ingest God's Word, to feast on God's light, God's life, God's truth, God's love. Nourished by the divine life we receive, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB explains that we become the body and blood of Christ to the world. The real presence is not only to be found in church, but in each baptized Christian nourished by the Eucharist and becoming the real presence of Christ to the world.

You are challenged today by this one introspective question: What Do you really expect from Holy Communion?

Prayer, Sacred Heart, Eucharist & Social Doctrine

In observance of the Sacred Heart devotion that's being observed during the month of June, Fr. Richard Neilson says the Heart of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament feeds the flame of our love for the Lord. Thus afire, we thirst for souls as He does, becoming His dedicated emissaries among the men and women of our day, so many of whom neither know Him nor love Him.

And Carl E. Olson shares some thoughts from Archbishop Fulton Sheen about comparing Christianity to other religions. He brings out from the late archbishop his thoughts on the four false assumptions that are often made in comparing religions.

And three years ago from Los Angeles, Archbishop Jose Gomez clarified that while there are “some non-negotiables in Catholic social teaching,” when it comes to the role of government in the economy, “sincere Catholics can have legitimate differences of opinion.” He added, "In our current fiscal crisis, the poor are threatened by proposed cutbacks in government spending and downsizing of assistance programs. But Catholic principles of solidarity also urge us to see unsustainable public deficits as having profound moral implications for justice and human dignity.”

Stories of Hope

Bo Sanchez is back this week with an anlaogy story that he admits  isn’t an original idea. Here are the five things that are common between you and a pencil. Msgr. Charles Pope travels the Lifestyle road with his contribution this week. It's about an article he saw that lists the Nine Things That will Disappear in Our Lifetime. He admitts that he becomes less convinced as the list goes on. But here it is anyway.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. A blessed Feast of Corpus Christi to all.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QESTION: Do you really believe in the True Presence at Communion?
FEATURED BLOG: What Do you Expect From Holy Communion?
PASTORAL HISPANA: El sacramento donde Cristo se queda por amor a nosotros

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