CORPUS CHRISTI – A
In our next meal, before we eat, let’s take a look at the food on our plates. Maybe there will be meat, fish, rice or bread, veggies and other stuff there. Most of them were once living creatures which become food for our nourishment. When we eat them, they become part of the fibre of our bodies; they become part of us.
On the night before Jesus died, he gave us a legacy that will remind us of his undying love by giving himself in the form of food which is the Eucharist. Now let’s take a look at the two powerful symbols used in the Eucharist: the bread and wine. The bread comes from hundred of thousands of grain of wheat which were ground into flour; in the same manner the wine comes from many grapes crushed into wine. In a symbolic sense, the grains and grapes had to give up their individual lives to become part of a transformation that requires death and sacrifice. Not only that, the wheat has to pass through fire and the juice has to pass fermentation, again symbolic of yet another stage of death and sacrifice. Once they become bread and wine, their highest level of sacrifice happens when they have to give up their being bread and wine to become the Flesh and Blood of the God who created them. In a sense, their sacrificial act of dying to themselves is given the ultimate reward ever given to any created being.
Jesus’ flesh was ground like the grains and his blood was crushed like the grapes and passed through the summit of sacrifice on the cross in order to become real food and drink. The word sacrifice comes from two Latin words sacra ( “sacred”) and facere (“to make”). Literally a sacrifice is an act of offering something to a deity who transforms the thing being offered which becomes sacred. Jesus who is our High Priest did not offer anything other than his whole being on the altar of the cross. It was the Father who accepted the offering of his Son and sanctified it. Jesus offered his body on the cross and the Father transformed it into a transcended and transfigured body as a sign of his acceptance. It was not just accepted by the Father but was given back to the people to be their food.
Whenever we gather as God’s people in the Eucharistic table, we partake in the fellowship which is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet. In a bloodless manner, we commemorate and make present the one sacrifice of Jesus on the cross Here when we break bread together, just like from many grains, we are invited to be crushed and die to ourselves just like the sacrifice we celebrate. The Eucharist is not just a celebration where we feed our hungry souls with the bread from heaven but we celebrate our own death and resurrection with the Paschal Mystery of Jesus. In the Eucharist, we offer the sacrifice of Jesus again to the Father in the form of bread and wine together with all our personal offerings. Our Offering is accepted by the Father and is returned to us as spiritual food! As members of the Body of Christ we just do not become what we eat but we are also sanctified by it because we become the sacrifice we offer. In the Eucharist we have the foretaste of eternal life because we do not only eat the bread from heaven but we also celebrate our union with God here and now.