Today Corpus Christi, we adore the most precious treasure Christ has given His Church, the Gift of the Blessed Sacrament of His Body and Blood, the gift of Himself. It is a mystery, before which we can but kneel in silent astonishment - - “lost in wonder, awe and praise.” On our altar, is the same Jesus Whom St. Thomas acclaimed “My Lord and my God,” and of Whom St. John, the beloved disciple, seeing Him on the beach and hearing The voice he loved, said excitedly: “It is the Lord!” In every Mass, Jesus speaks His Word to us in the Scriptures and then, as the bread and wine is changed into His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, He gives us the gift of Himself, the Bread of Life, a gift of love that is stronger than death.
It’s good to remind ourselves of what the Church has always taught about this gift. In the words of
Pope St Paul VI written in 1968 just after the second Vatican council:
“We believe that the Mass, celebrated by the priest representing the person of Christ ... and offered by him in the name of Christ and the members of (His Church) is the sacrifice of Calvary rendered sacramentally present on our altars. We believe that as the bread and wine consecrated by the Lord at the Last Supper were changed into His body and His blood which were to be offered for us on the cross, likewise the bread and wine consecrated by the priest are changed into the body and blood of Christ ( now) gloriously in heaven ...” (We must), in order to be in accord with Catholic faith, maintain that ... the bread and wine have ceased to exist after the Consecration, so that it is the adorable body and blood of the Lord Jesus that from then on are really before us under the (appearance) of bread and wine, as the Lord willed it, in order to give Himself to us as food and to associate us with the unity of His Mystical Body. And it is our ... duty to honour and adore in the blessed Host which our eyes see, the Incarnate Word whom they cannot see, and who, without leaving heaven, is made present before us.”
Remember: when we kneel before the Lord in the Eucharist, we adore not only a Sacred Thing but a Sacred Person, Jesus Himself. More, Jesus is not just present: He is active. He is longing for us with a lover’s passion, He is giving himself for us, He wants to fill us with His Holy Spirit. He wants our hearts to burn within us. He wants to set us on fire with love, enthusiasm and passion.
The more we accept the Lord’s presence the more we realise that the Mass is not mainly about us; it’s about God. It’s not about what we do, but about what God does. It’s not about warm feelings; it’s the work of the Blessed Trinity. When we come to Mass, the Holy Spirit unites us with Jesus in His self-offering to the Father, and just as He lays down His life on the altar out of love for us, so He sends us out to do the same for others. In the 1970’s when I was suffering religious lessons in a Catholic school we were given vague, partial ideas about the Mass, it’s a community get together, it’s a symbolic meal, it’s a Christian Passover meal. In reality The Mass is the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary in which He is the Victim. Jesus invites us to join ourselves to His sacrifice by offering up to the Father our lives, our thoughts, our words and deeds, our sufferings, joys, hopes and fears. This is why the Mass is the source and centre of our Christian life.