Our celebration, of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, celebrates the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It is not a “symbolic representation”, it is the real presence. This feast took on a particular significance during the confusing times of the Reformation. The Reformers were said to deny the real presence and the Catholic Church reacted by insisting in the absolute truth of the real presence. It is tragic when people of good faith find it difficult to listen to one another and near impossible to see each other’s point of view.
To give an extremely simplified explanation of what took place in the 16th century, at issue was a real tug of war between those who found the religious language of St. Paul and St. Augustine a cornerstone. For them, it was the personal experience and encounter with the Lord that was most significant. On the other side were others who found the language of the Gospel of John and St. Thomas a cornerstone. For them, it was the objective truth as constitutive of the very real. And then it became political, the prince of such and such a place became a defender of such and such an approach, and war broke out. It took many centuries to recognize that everyone was attempting to be coherent but from a different perspective or starting point. As breath of the Holy Spirit, the Second Vatican Council sent all of us, as church, to the roots of our life of faith, the Scriptures. Scripture in turn invites us into the scene of the Last Supper. Some of the keywords are: Passover, disciples, covenant, Reign of God. The Last Supper was a covenant gathering. Those who shared in the meal, not strangers but disciples, would be bound for life, and beyond life.
Much as in the Passover commemoration, when the Israelites crossed seas and deserts and established an eternal covenant. The very act of commemorating made the original experience new, present and real. In a similar way, the celebration of our Eucharist, makes the Last Supper, new, present and real, with one additional element. In the bread that is broken and the cup that is shared, we enter the sacred space of covenant where the Reign of God is already a reality. The personal encounter with the Lord is implicit. Those who gather are not strangers, they are disciples who establish a covenant with each other and the Lord, so that “thy kingdom come”. In other words, the Eucharist is a sacred event that evokes the encounter with the Lord in the context of the reign of God.
The quality of the event will influence the sense that we have of the Blessed Sacrament. If we gather, without at least the desire for discipleship and wanting to be with the Lord, then the Blessed Sacrament falters in evoking the sacred presence that is there waiting for us.
The Eucharist is an outpouring of grace that makes the impossible possible. Such an abundance of grace, we dare not take for granted. We need to approach the Eucharist and be touched anew, in the present and real experience of Christ. Then, in the Blessed Sacrament, come let us adore him.
-Father Francisco Gómez, S.T.