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Eucharist is no ordinary supper
Based on Gospel of Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
Not an ordinary supper – the very first First Eucharist! This Sunday, we celebrate the Feast of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus, acknowledging the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It’s often called by the Latin name Corpus Christi (Body of Christ).
This Sunday’s Gospel comes from Mark’s account of Jesus’ Passion. Jesus, with his disciples, was celebrating the feast of the Passover that commemorated the freeing of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.
At this Last Supper with his disciples, Jesus instituted the Eucharist. He changed the bread and wine into his own Body and Blood and gave the bread and wine (now his Body and Blood) to his disciples.
As we gather for Mass, or celebration of the Eucharist (which means “thanksgiving”), we recall this meal Jesus shared with his disciples on the night before he died; and we share in his saving death and Resurrection. During Mass, at the offertory, we bring bread and wine to the altar. Just as Jesus prayed at the Last Supper, the priest prays the words of consecration and the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus.
In the act of consecration, the “substance” of the bread and wine is changed by the power of the Holy Spirit into the “substance” of the Body and Blood of Christ. This change is called “transubstantiation.” In faith, we speak of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist because this “transubstantiation” takes place (Cf. Catechism #1376).
The Mass is a sacrifice and a meal. It is a sacrifice because it makes present the sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary where he offered himself in a bloody manner on the cross, to save us from our sins and give us divine life. He now offers himself in an unbloody manner on the altar at every Mass. This sacrifice becomes the offering of the whole church. The Mass is a meal where we receive the Body and Blood of Christ under the “appearances” of bread and wine and are empowered by the Holy Spirit to take Christ into the world – to become the Body of Christ.
Jesus, who taught about God’s love, forgave sins, cured the sick and who died on the cross and rose from the dead, is the same Jesus we receive in holy Communion at every Mass. Holy Communion is not only the union of Jesus and each of us but also the union we have with one another as a community of believers.
The Holy Father’s General Prayer Intention for June is “Christ, Present in the Eucharist – that believers may recognize in the Eucharist the living presence of the Risen One who accompanies them in daily life.” Thank you, Jesus.