Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, 2013

He fed them with the finest wheat and satisfied the with honey from the rock (Psalm 80 :17)

O God, Who in this wonderful Sacrament,
have left us a memorial of Your Passion
grant us, we pray,
so to revere the Sacred Mysteries of Your Body and Blood
that we may always experience in ourselves
the fruits of Your redemption.
Who live and reign with God the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM (click for full Psalm)
You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek. (Psalm 110: 4).

SCRIPTURE EXCERPT (click for all readings)
“Jesus spoke to the crowds about the kingdom of God,
and he healed those who needed to be cured.
As the day was drawing to a close,
the Twelve approached him and said,
“Dismiss the crowd
so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms
and find lodging and provisions;
for we are in a deserted place here.”
He said to them, “Give them some food yourselves.”
They replied, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have,
unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people.”
Now the men there numbered about five thousand.
Then he said to his disciples,
“Have them sit down in groups of about fifty.”
They did so and made them all sit down.
Then taking the five loaves and the two fish,
and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing over them, broke them,
and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.
They all ate and were satisfied.
And when the leftover fragments were picked up,
they filled twelve wicker baskets.
(Luke 9:11-17).”

Jesus’ Gift of Himself in the Most Holy Eucharist is expressed properly as a mystery not because the Gift is unknowable but precisely because the Gift is a way of living. Too often the mere sounding of the word mystery shuts down any type of theological inquiry and pondering because from a practical point of view, ‘I can’t figure this out.’
Prior to sacramentum’s introduction into the theological vocabulary, Christians used the word mysteries (Mystery (singular) was reserved to the Most Holy Trinity) to describe Baptism, Chrismation and the Most Holy Eucharist. Borrowed from the initiatory experiences of the various Greek Oracle cults, mysteries expressed how one was inserted into a way of living. True, there was much about the way of living that was hidden but as one lived the mysteries, insights into mysteries’ meaning gradually unfolded and one began to see and to live life in an entirely new way. Living the mysteries formed one into a whole person, devoid of fragmentation and division.

As Christianity made deeper inroads into society, the Church recognized the need to engage the culture in order to present a ‘reasonable grounding for Her hope in Jesus Christ.’ A number of notable figures, predominately bishops who possessed a rare combination of holiness, sound pastoral praxis, sharp intellectual and theological acumen, rose to the task of evangelizing and catechizing the known world of the day. They were the Fathers of the Church. While much of their work was spent addressing Christological and Trinitarian concerns, there are some notable texts that addressed the Sacramental life of Christianity. One that bears consideration today comes from the late fourth century, penned by the bishop of Nyssa, Saint Gregory.
Shortly after the Council of Constantinople, Gregory wrote the Catechetical Oration (also known as The Great Catechism). It was Christianity’s first catechism, as we understand the word today. Much of the text reflects the theological and ecclesiological concerns of the day, as any catechism must do. What is interesting is that Gregory devotes an entire chapter in the Catechetical Oration to a theological reflection on the Eucharist. He begins this section by acknowledging humanity’s composition as a unity of body and of soul:

“Owing to man’s twofold nature, composed as it is of soul and body, those who come to salvation must be united with the Author of life by means of both. In consequence, the soul, which has union with him by faith derives from this the means of salvation; for being united with life implies having a share in it. But it is in a different way that the body comes into intimate union with its Savior. Those who have been tricked into taking poison offset its harmful effect by another drug. The remedy, moreover, just like the poison, has to enter the system, so that its remedial effect may thereby spread through the whole body. Similarly, having tasted the poison that dissolved our nature, we were necessarily in need of something to reunite it. Such a remedy had to enter into us, so that it might, by its counteraction, undo the harm the body had already encountered from the poison (Catechetical Oration, 37).”
The presentation of the Eucharist is not done apart from other Christian realities such as the Incarnation, a proper Christian anthropology, sin and the desire for wholeness and healing and eventually, the Resurrection and Most Holy Trinity. What makes his presentation noteworthy is the analogy he draws between the Holy Eucharist and medicine.
For Gregory, all sin is a poison and is often deceptively presented to resemble a good that has not only entered the body but has become one with the body. Despite its appearance, poison is poison and harm results. Because humanity has “tasted the poison that dissolved our nature,” the remedy for such a situation is “nothing else than the Body which proved itself superior to death and became the source of our life.” For this reason, “the remedy, moreover, just like the poison, has to enter the system, so that its remedial effect may thereby spread through the whole body.” This ‘remedy,’ termed by Gregory as “another drug,” is none other than the Most Holy Eucharist Who becomes present following the ‘blessing’ that “changes the elements (metastoichein)” of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ that we may be healed.
On this Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, we are drawn – we are pulled in love – to the Altar of Sacrifice to be nourished with a unique Food that heals. Jesus Himself is the Divine Physician Who makes a ‘house call’ to the home of our lives.

Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful (click here)

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation
always and everywhere to give You thanks,
Lord, Holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.

For at the Last Supper with His Apostles,
establishing for the ages to come the saving
memorial of the Cross,
He offered Himself to You as the unblemished Lamb,
the acceptable Gift of perfect praise.
Nourishing You faithful by this Sacred Mystery,
You make them holy, so that the human race,
bounded by one world, may be enlightened by one faith
and united by one bond of charity.

And so, we approach the table of this wondrous Sacrament,
so that, bather in the sweetness of Your grace,
we may passover to the heavenly realities here foreshadowed.

Therefore, all creatures of heaven and earth
sing a new song in adoration, and we,
with all the host of Angels, cry out,
and without end end we acclaim:

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