If we’re fortunate, we spend some time each day eating together with family and friends. It may be with just one other person; it might be with a large family. We may often eat with coworkers or even neighbors. But the Eucharist is the one occasion at which we regularly eat with everyone, even strangers. No matter how large or how diverse is the gathering, one thing is true, we never eat alone. We eat as one of many, as the Body of Christ united with people throughout the world. We are especially conscious of that here at St. James because of our sister parish in Peru.
We consume the Body of Christ as part of the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is both the assembled community, the church, as well as the Eucharist itself. Paul says in our second reading, the bread we break and the wine we bless are a participation in the body and blood of Christ. Nourished by the Body of Christ (the Eucharist) the Body of Christ (the Church) becomes the body of Christ in the world, participating in the mission of Christ Jesus, witnessing to the Gospel in our daily lives. Jesus told the crowd that whoever eats his body and drinks his blood has life within them and indeed will live forever.
When Jesus first revealed the gift of himself in the Eucharist to his disciples, many stopped following him. It was too hard to believe and accept. Unfortunately, I think many of our Catholic people have stopped believing in the real or true presence of our Lord in the Eucharist. There are too many who excuse themselves from Mass without a legitimate reason. Only about 25 or 30% of our people celebrate Mass on the weekends. Sometimes people come up to communion chewing gum or eating candy. They at other times grab the host from the person distributing rather than receiving it in the hand. Too often they partake of communion and then run right out the door, as if it were fast food. As the old expression goes, “familiarity breeds contempt.”
To help us be more aware of the presence of our Eucharistic Lord, our remodeled church will have a new tabernacle. The present tabernacle came from the old church where it was placed in the backdrop of the altar. This one will be more like a tent (the Ten Commandments for the Jewish people were housed in a tent) which will be centered in the middle of the sacristy behind the altar. Its purpose is to reserve the consecrated bread for the sick and dying, and those unable to come to church, as well as Eucharistic devotion.
May today’s feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ make us all more aware and appreciative of the wonderful gift of the Lord himself.
Love, Peace, Joy,