Deut. 8: 2-3, 14- 16. 1 Cor. 10: 16 – 17. John 6: 51 – 58
In the Eucharist we are celebrating the presence of Jesus with us. His Eucharistic meal
is his gift to us. Understanding the power and the meaning of this gift is the reason for this great feast of Corpus Christi.
Jesus gave us the way to enter into his saving sacrament of his passion, death and resurrection.
The words of institution Jesus used on the night before he died and that we say at every mass, clue us in on its meaning and power. Listen to what he said and what we pray every day.
Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body which will be given up for you.
Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my blood. The blood of the new and eternal covenant which will be poured out for you.
The Eucharistic mystery is a continuation of the Incarnational reality. Christ is present and we share in the continuation of the sacrifice of the cross, which is perpetuated here and is the summit and the source of all Christian worship.
Did you hear the words? Take and Eat of it –eat of the body given up. Yes, eat of what? Take in the very death of Christ on the cross. How do we die to ourselves as Christ died – let go of everything for others – to be completely for God alone in his love for the Father and for us? We are asked to take in the total love that gave Jesus the strength to die as the fulfillment of his mission of reconciliation.
Eat of it – our monastic life lived in fidelity to our conversatio can bring us to this space of total
giving, total openness, our call to come to a totalizing faith in this cosmic transformation being brought about by Christ in the whole universe, that is his body, all that came to be in him – the word made flesh.
As Abbot Gerard of Genesee said in his talk to the General Chapter of 2017, our ordinary, obscure and laborious life has no mission but to disclose God – I would say it is to disclose Christ’s total love of God and all of humanity in his death on the cross. We, living our life, do the same, in our dying and rising to the total love of God in Christ for the Church and world.
Take and drink – yes, we to are asked to give our life blood – to pour it out in love, in all the ways it takes to learn to love unconditionally. There is our vocation as Christians. And -especially as monks – we have no other goal but pure love.
Every day we stand around our altar to share this sacred meal and to come a little closer to this unconditional love. Every day we are invited to die to self a little more with Christ, as we eat and drink, because his body and blood strengthen us for this mission.
Brothers, love, unconditional love, is our answer to the Eucharistic sacrifice and our coming to oneness with Christ in his offering. Like Christ, we must do whatever it takes to get to that total giving of self in love.
One of my favorite prayers I say every day is the Anima Christi, made famous by St. Ignatius Loyola. He didn’t write it, as many believe, but it was his special prayer. He used it in the Spiritual exercises. If you don’t know it, it begins: Soul of Christ sanctify me, body of Christ save me, blood of Christ inebriate me. Then goes on in beautiful language about the power of Christ’s passion and death.
I want to share a few words from Ron Hansen’s essay on this prayer. He writes:
“Body of Christ, save me – We are not just afflicted with hankerings and hunger, we are afflicted with an annihilation that may come at any hour. And in that case “save me” carries with it a hint of desperation and the haunting emphasis of a scream heard in darkness.”
I believe Henson’s writing touches our own desperation we feel at times in our struggle to overcome ourselves and all our stuff we have to confront. Jesus has saved us by his Body.
We can scream out to receive the grace of this sacrament to bring us to where we are called to go. These words can truly give us hope. Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ- inebriate me. Hanson writes: “Intoxicate me, excite me, exhilarate me, saturate me, convert me, Rule and overwhelm me, transubstantiate me.”
We can’t read inebriate and think only of drunkenness and a kind of poisoning that tilts the floor and turns our tongues into slippery toads. We should here think of inebriation as a flooding and a heightening, altering our perspectives, dulling our aches, quieting our fears, removing our inhibitions, increasing our jubilation, turning us into singers and joke-tellers and people thoroughly in love with the world.
Hanson touches on the truth of Christ who saves us but also uplifts us. We are not just to endure our short lives but we are to enjoy them and rejoice in them.
Isn’t that the fullness of life? Yes, that is the Eucharist. And this is our life.
Christ gives us this gift of true life as he gives us himself.