Holy Communion – What does it signify?

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This weekend we celebrated the feast of Corpus Christi (The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ). The Holy Eucharist is the central focus of the Mass because Jesus gives us himself for our nourishment to help us in this life. But it is truly much more than that. Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day (6:53-54).” So, what is actually happening during the time of Holy Communion? Well, I’d like to share a homily I gave during the Holy Thursday mass in the year 2014:

On Holy Thursday, Jesus washed the feet of His Apostles in order to teach them that they must serve one another. He also on this day, instituted the Priesthood and the Holy Eucharist. He taught them that He himself will be offered up to the Father as the new Passover Lamb. That he will be that unblemished lamb that will make up the New Covenant. The meal He shares with his Apostles on this day, did not conclude until Jesus drank from the 4th cup of wine while He was hanging on the cross on Calvary. And after taking the 4th cup, He said the words “It Is Finished,” and then He died.

At Mass each day and everyday, in every Catholic Church throughout the world, Jesus’ sacrifice is re-presented on the altar. At each Mass we are not re-sacrificing Jesus again, but we are re-presenting the One bloody sacrifice on Calvary in an UN-bloody manner.

Mgsr. James T. O’Conner (from his book “The Hidden Manna”), puts it like this:

When Christ becomes present at Mass, he does so not in order to repeat the sacrifice of the Cross, but to draw us into it, to make us participants in his one sacrifice…The Last Supper and Calvary and the Mass are all the same sacrifice.

Speaking about being participants, all we have to do is look to St. Pauls 1st letter to the Corinthians, where he teaches; “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” Folks, we are participants! He goes on to say in today’s reading from Corinthians: “…For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.”

What happened there on the Cross that day is happening now in the Mass, with this one difference; On the Cross the Savior was alone, he took on the sins of the world, and suffered for our sake. In the Mass, He is not alone, but He is with us. Our Lord is now in Heaven at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for you and me. You see, Jesus cannot suffer again in His own human nature which is in Heaven, but He can suffer again in our human natures. He cannot renew Calvary in His physical body, but He can renew it in His Mystical Body – the Church. You and I make up the Mystical Body of Christ. The Sacrifice of the Cross can be re-enacted as long as we give Him our body and blood, and give it so completely that as His own, He can offer Himself anew to His Heavenly Father for the redemption of His Mystical Body, the Church.

At this and every Mass, Christ gathers up every human nature that is willing to be offered up. The Church collects the sacrifices, the sorrows and the crucifixions of all of our individual human natures, and unites them with the Great Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. It is a singular, unique Divine Act with which we come in contact each time it is represented and re-enacted in the Mass.

When the priest says the words of consecration, “This is my body, Take it. This is the blood of the New Covenant, Take it.” It is at that moment, in which you and I offer our whole selves. It is literally the fulfillment of Christ’s injunction: “Take up your cross and follow Me.”

I’d now like to read the words of soon to be, Blessed Archbishop Fulton Sheen. He says these are the words of prayer that we should all be saying to the Lord at the moment of consecration:

“I give myself to God. Here is my body, Take it.
Here is my blood, Take it. Here is my soul, my will, my wealth – all that I have. It is yours. Take it! Consecrate it! Offer it!
Offer it with Yourself to the Heavenly Father in order that He, looking down on this great sacrifice, may see only You, His beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased.
Transmute the poor bread of my life into Your divine life;
thrill the wine of my wasted life into Your divine Spirit; unite my broken heart with Your Heart; change my cross into a crucifix.
Let not my abandonment and my sorrow and my bereavement go to waste. Gather up the fragments, and as the drop of water is absorbed by the wine at the Offertory of the Mass, let my little cross be entwined with Your great Cross so that I may purchase the joys of everlasting happiness in union with You.
Consecrate these trials of my life which would go unrewarded unless united with You;
transubstantiate me so that like bread which is now Your Body, and wine which is now Your Blood, I too may be wholly Yours.
I care not if the species remain, or that, like the bread and the wine I seem to all earthly eyes the same as before. My station in life, my routine duties, my work, my family – all these are but the species of my life which may remain unchanged; but the substance of my life, my soul, my mind, my will, my heart – transubstantiate them, transform them wholly into Your service, so that through me, all may know how sweet is the love of Christ. AMEN.”

Until next time, God bless.

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