June 10th – Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ – Year B

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Dear Friends in Christ,

It feels good to be among you again. It is indeed nice to see all your very familiar faces . It really feels like I am back home as St Cecilia’s was my first place of service since my arrival in Canada.  I look forward to continuing my service to you all. And I hope that in the two months of my assignment here, I will positively impact your lives in some measure.

According to Fr. Eugene Lobo S.J. Rome, the today’s Gospel message comes to us saying that we are to eat his flesh and drink his blood in the sense that we are to appropriate, to assimilate totally into our very being all that he teaches, his vision, his values, his understanding of the meaning and purpose of life.  We are to be able to say, with Paul, I live, not I, but Christ lives in me. This is the basic and fundamental meaning of eating the body and blood of Christ, to have a total union with him in our way of thinking and living. Secondly, if we truly belong to Christ, then we become consciously and actively participating members of that Body, loving, serving and caring for each other and corporately giving witness to the vision that Jesus gave us to be shared with people all over the world.  Thirdly, by partaking in the Eucharist we become the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ sharing our life with others.  The Eucharist is truly a sign and a good Eucharist is the sign of a living community.  At the same time Eucharist is the participation in the divinity of Jesus who gives us his own self to be our food and drink.

Jesus gives his disciples the Eucharist. Eucharist means thanksgiving and blessing.  We express our gratitude to God for all the gratuitous gifts God has given us in Jesus and we offer back to him the gratitude in the form of Bread and wine. Eucharist means a Blessing.  Blessing actually means prayer of praise and glorification for all the Lord God has done for us in Jesus. It is a meal shared by the community in the name of Jesus. It is a sacrificial meal, meaning it is an offering to God as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus uses here the symbol of a simple meal to show his presence to us and chooses to remain in the form of simple bread and wine, a poor person’s meal. Here the emphasis is more the community dimension of the celebration of the Eucharist which is often missing. Our Eucharistic celebration often tends to be an individual participation. Eucharist indeed is a communal celebration where we share in the one bread and one cup. A priest as the leader of the group only presides and leads the community in the offering of the sacrifice.

Every Eucharist is a unique celebration.  When the celebrant takes a little piece of unleavened bread and repeats the words that Jesus spoke at the Last Supper, “This is my body”, and when he takes a small of amount of wine in a chalice and says, “This is my blood”, the bread is no longer bread and the wine is no longer wine. At every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we participate in a marvelous miracle, the miracle called Transubstantiation. This is truly God’s gift to us. Thus Eucharist is a gift, not just to be adored and revered, but also to be consumed, digested and lived by every Christian. What were once the simple gifts of bread and wine truly become transformed into the Body and Blood of our Saviour – the new covenant between God and mankind. It is not a private gift, but a communal one. When the priest holds up the consecrated Host and the cup of Wine and says, ” This is My Body – this is My Blood “, he is also saying, for Jesus, “you are my body… you are my blood.”  Jesus gives us His Body and Blood so that He might live in us and so that we, then, might become life for the world. But God is always new, always challenging. Each new circumstance of our life should lead us to a new understanding of His goodness and love. As we grow older, God should become younger for us.

May our lives always reflect the life of Christ whose flesh and blood we receive at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

God bless you all and your families.

Fr Patrick Furtado.