Permit me today to glide over the normal salivating eucharistic theologies (which abound in the sequence of today) that should normally ornament a homily of today’s sort and to focus immediately on the Challenges which a celebration like today’s naturally evoke.
This is because it would not be possible for us today, within the margined confines of our space and time, to accommodate all that could be said about the Eucharist.
Secondly, in talking about the challenges, we would have the leverage to reflect shortly on the theological background behind each eucharistic challenge. Hence our Theme! These challenges are hereby highlighted as appreciation, utilization, preparation/purification, imitation and communion!
1.APPRECIATION: The Eucharist is the greatest sign of God’s love and His desire to be one with us. It is the greatest visible sign of God’s physical presence with, in and for us. It is God’s gift of Himself to us. It is the summit and acme of Christian Liturgy, and the point of departure and arrival of all the sacraments. This should provoke a deep sense of appreciation for God’s love. This appreciation should manifest in thanksgiving ‘eukaristein’ (Resp.Ps) and an ardent desire to deepen our understanding of the riches of this great Divine gift and the meaning as a paschal meal/sacrificial/passover meal (cf. sequence), as memorial meal (cf. Op. Pr./2nd R) as last supper, as foretaste of heavenly feast (Pr. After comm), as food for those of journey, as the real manna (1st R). It also implies deep reverence for this gracious gift of God and worship. Cf. St. John Chrysostom asking his mass servers to ring the sanctus bell after a Lady that received the Holy Communion and left immediately for home.
2. UTILIZATION: We can have a great treasure and yet fail to make use of it. It is paradoxically true that despite this greatest food of God prepared for us by God himself, many Christians still die of hunger and starvation. How many people will not partake of this feast today? It is the paradox of many Catholics today; the paradox of scarcity in the midst of plenty, of many Christians drinking cisterns when they can easily access the rivers of life, of a community of shoemakers and shoe factories who all are unfortunately shoeless. Jesus emphasises the indispensability of this food in the gospel of today. What is keeping you from participating in this free but indispensable food? Concubinage, secret sin, habitual sin, lack of courage to asses the sacrament of reconciliation, pride…?
3.PREPARATION/PURIFICATION: This great food needs preparation and purification for by eating the very self of Jesus who is holiness personified. It is pretty much like washing one’s hands before a sumptuous meal. Reception of the Holy Eucharist in an unworthy state is like chewing palm kernel with decayed set of teeth or eating jollof rice with a plate smeared with human faeces. We can recall here the experience of John Chrysostom who saw the radiant Jesus crouched in an obscure, dirty hut and upon enquiry was told that is How Jesus assumes position in a heart that receives Him unworthily. (cf. sequence-diff. rewards for different recipients)
4. IMITATION: The Eucharist calls to imitate what we celebrate. If we eat One who willingly gave His body as food, it means that we have also to let others ‘eat’ us. We have to vouchsafe those around us, a share of our intelligence, mental, physical, financial, spiritual and psychological resources. It calls to charity and sacrifice
In deed, the vocation of the
Christian is found in that of His master who is the ‘bread of life’ for just as the bread was taken, lifted up, blessed and then broken, so are we taken from among our folks, lifted up in different areas above them, blessed with His graces and abilities, and broken to be shared by others.
5. COMMUNION: Eating from the same table is usually the highest expression of oneness and unity from the cultural perspective. The Eucharistic is a great sign of unity among faithful who share the one body of Christ and so are formed to become the one body of Christ, since what we eat is what we become. Hence, the name ‘communion’. The Communion rite begins with ‘our Father’ to show our common Father and consequent brother hood, and stretches through the kiss of peace, also to underscore the oneness of mind and heart that should characterize those who eat of the same body and blood of Christ. To be receiving ‘Holy Communion’ and yet not be in communion with the Church and or one another is a contradiction in terms. This is the great message of today’s 2nd R.
Be proud of who and what you are and make best use of it while you can! I am Catholic! I am alife! I am the Gospel!! I am the Light!!!
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