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Corpus Christi

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Dear Brothers, on this Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. As we said last Sunday, these solemnities of ordinary time help us in our process of deepening in the love of God, which is manifested in us in many ways. After contemplating the mystery of the Triune God, in an eternal communion of love, we contemplate the mystery of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist in the Sacrament, the maximum expression for us of the loving presence of God in our life.


But does it make sense to celebrate this solemnity, when on Holy Thursday we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist? It is the question that many often ask themselves. These questions become more acute when we hear from priests' lips expressions such as the Eucharist was made to eat, not to adore. Also, a sentence like this one: God is not locked in a box. These questions may be “logically” valid, but although we Christians do not renounce the possibility of reasoning our faith, we know that faith and piety –which is a gift of the Holy Spirit- go far beyond the simple logic constructed of “reasonable” arguments. Faith is an essential opening to the Mystery that transcends all logic, all argument and all rational control.


Does it make sense to celebrate this solemnity? Yes, it does! It is about the celebration of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, a presence that does not end in the celebration, but rather extends beyond it. It is true that, as the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium says, the presence of Christ in the celebration of the Eucharist is manifested through the minister who presides over it, the Word that is proclaimed in it, the community that celebrates and, in a very special way, in the species of bread and consecrated wine.


But human beings need signs, we need sacramental expressions that unite us more and more to the Lord. This is the logic of the incarnation of the Son of God, expressed in the Christmas Preface: Because the mystery of the Word made flesh, the light of your glory shone before our eyes with a new radiance, so that knowing God visibly, he would lead to the love of the invisible. The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is the fulfilment of Jesus´ promise to the Church: I will be with you every day until the end of the world (Mt 28:20). Christ in the Eucharist is for us not only the food that gives eternal life but the constant presence of God´s love among us through the sacramental dynamics of the Church.


The Word proclaimed in this celebration places us before the foreshadowing of the Eucharist in the manna that fed the people of God in their journey through the desert. Moses reminds the people that God´s loving closeness was manifested in this free food, food for which they did not have to pay the price of freedom, unlike the food they received in Egypt, the house of slavery. Saint Paul reminds us, in the second reading, that the Eucharist is not simply reduced to a rite, but must project itself into life in communion in the Christian community. The unity of the Body of Christ is an impulse to achieve the unity of the community. Saint John, in the Gospel passage, puts on Jesus´ lips this expression: those who eat my flesh and drinks my blood dwells in me and I in them. The Eucharist is the guarantee of a unique and permanent communion with Christ. The Christian life cannot be fully lived without this Eucharistic communion with Christ.


As Christians, we are called on this day to renew our faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. His presence, I insist, goes beyond celebration to be a sacramental presence that encourages, comforts and strengthens us in the road of life. The Christian´s life is called to be a Eucharistic life that does not end in the celebration and adoration of the Real Presence either but continues in the service of oneself to others. The Eucharist is the unceasing renewal of the giving of Christ in the Church and, through her, to the whole world.

Christians must feel urged to live a life given to others, to the concrete and real neighbour of our daily lives, expressed in free and disinterested service, in charity and in constant presence, especially where there are loneliness and abandonment. Before starting the journey, Saint Teresa of Calcutta wanted the missionaries of charity to dedicate an hour to Eucharistic adoration as a motor that would later impel them to live a selfless dedication to the poorest, to the forgotten of history sunk in the loneliness and abandonment.

By Fr. Ángel Villasmil, OP.