Sunday, June 14, 2009

Corpus Christi

1. We believe that the Bread and Wine offered on the altar, through the Invocation of the Holy Spirit, through the Words of Jesus Christ, through the ministry of the priest become the true Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. We did not invent this teaching, rather it was handed on to us from the Apostles themselves, who not only were present at the Last Supper when Jesus instituted this sacrificial meal, but also came to recognize Jesus in what they called at the time “the Breaking of the Bread.”
2. Jesus Himself, on the night He was betrayed, took the bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to His disciples saying “Take it; this is my body (Mark 14:22). And taking the cup Jesus said This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many (Mark 14:24). If we believe that Jesus is God, we cannot doubt His words. And it is not as if the Lord had not prepared His people for this moment. In the covenant the Lord made with the people when He rescued them from Pharaoh in Egypt, the people had to eat the flesh of the lamb of sacrifice, or they would have no part in His people. In the peace sacrifice of bulls made by Moses, the people were sprinkled with the blood of the sacrificed animal in order to participate in the sacrifice. In like manner, we the People of the New Covenant, must partake of the sacrifice by which the covenant was established. But it is not with blood of bulls or goats or sheep, but with the Blood of Jesus.
3. In His power as God, Jesus has made it possible for everyone to share in His sacrificial offering of Himself for the sake of redeeming us from our sins. And we need this sacrificial offering of Jesus’ Body and Blood. Jesus said Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life (John 6:53). The body needs material food and the intellect is fed by thinking or study. But the life of Christ living within us, can only be nourished by Jesus Christ Himself. Without Christ nourishing us, we cannot live and grow as Christians. And since Jesus Christ is concerned about saving the whole person, our food cannot be simply spiritual but bodily as well.
4. We might ask: how is it possible that Jesus can give us His body and blood to eat and drink? How is it possible for us to believe in this sacrament? Where’s the proof? Ultimately the Eucharist is a Mystery of God- a miraculous feeding- a mysterious meal and sacrifice. But there are ways for us to grasp the mystery. One such way is the theological term transubstantiation. Now a substance in this explanation means that which makes a thing what it is- its true being. An accident is a quality that is accidental to the being of a thing, like color or shape or taste or location. We say that in the Eucharist, the substance or true being of the bread and wine are transformed into the substance of Jesus Christ. But the accidental qualities remain. By using this concept, our hearts and minds can know in truth and believe that which our eyes cannot see.
5. And through believing with all our strength, eventually the eyes of our understanding will see the Truth and we too will come to know Jesus in the Breaking of the Bread. And by eating His Body and drinking His Blood, we will gain life everlasting if only we keep His commands.

No comments: