Reflection for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Cycle C)
The Catholic Church has upheld in its long history up to the present time, some fundamental and generally accepted presuppositions that comprise the core of a theology denoting its relationship with what it professes to believe as “divine reality,” and how this intangible reality is embodied in and for the upliftment of tangible “human reality.” These presuppositions are premised upon the confession that Christ is the embodiment of God and the divine love with which he approaches humanity.
Such an embodiment has always been acknowledged to be necessary in the Christian tradition because human beings, given their varying limitations in perceiving and interpreting realities, must have more than a mere mental comprehension of the mystery of God.
In the same sense, when human beings approach God with the desire of establishing and maintaining a relationship with him in faith and love, the relationship itself must be embodied or expressed in the wholeness of their humanity.
Consider how Melchizedek “brought bread and wine … saying, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth! And blessed be God Most High who has delivered your enemies into your hands!’ And how ‘Abram gave him a tenth part of everything.’”
This is why the Church contends for the presence of Christ in the holy Eucharist to be real, because such a supernatural relationship cannot depend on pure speculation or feelings. It can only be fully embodied in certain gestures or words that appeal to the affective side of humanity in a way which is beyond the mere cognitive, thus underscoring for those who accept Christ’s presence in faith, the existence of the Mystery to which they are linked. This is why “the tradition of the Lord” endures in the perpetual proclamation of the Church, “This is my body which is broken for you; do this in memory of me.” “This cup is the new Covenant, in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do it in memory of me.”
In the Christian context therefore, believing people need to concretize their faith through a carefully discerned system of liturgical actions which enable their relationship with God, forming a praxis of worship that actualizes our human need to talk, listen and respond to him. The words of Scripture are the basis for this system, illuminating the mystery of God and the story of our salvation, of which the passion and resurrection of the Christ is its key, center, and climax. Simply said, it is the mystery of the divine self-giving which we are hoping to experience in our lives today.
Hence, our celebration of the Eucharist presupposes faith in the divine presence, in mystery revealed; it is not a mere recollection of a presence that “once was,” but a festive gathering with the presence that “is truly present.” So, without faith in a true presence, the community gathering in liturgy, cannot be rejuvenated. Also, our celebration proposes to relive sacred events in salvation history which makes God present in a theophany to the community, with all his love and power; it is not a mere dramatization in remembrance of the God “who was,” but a holy encounter with the God “who is and will ever be eternal.” So, without liturgy, the community responding with love, cannot be sustained.
Our liturgy most certainly enables the infinity of God to reach out to and through the finite limits of the human condition. Thus, our response must be to first believe and trust: to believe is to understand without doubting, and to trust is to believe without seeing. Faith and trust then lead to hope and love: to hope is to trust without despairing, to ask for mercy is to trust without pride and to love is to trust without fear. Love then leads to obedience and service: to obey is to love without coveting, to forgive is to love without hatred, to give is to love without receiving, and to ask for justice is to love without disrespect. Obedience and service finally culminate in tranquil eternity with God: to be united with the Spirit is to adore him without ceasing, and to be happy and at peace, is to be united with him without end.
So, in the same way that the Real Presence makes it possible for infinity to be one with finitude, it also makes possible for finitude to come to infinity. The Christ is the understanding which links us to the profusion of compassion that can inspire us to struggle for and achieve “divine providence for all.” He himself in his daily manifestation in the blessed Sacrament, helps turn the scarcity of “five loaves and two fish” into the abundance in which no one is in dire need of anything, in which no one is left behind. The Lord of “heaven and earth” is the fulcrum for accomplishing “heaven on earth.” This understanding must be the way for the growth and fulfillment of our eucharistic life.
Brother Jess Matias is a professed brother of the Secular Franciscan Order. He serves as minister of the St. Pio of Pietrelcina Fraternity at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Mandaluyong City, coordinator of the Padre Pio Prayer Groups of the Capuchins in the Philippines and prison counselor and catechist for the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.