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22 June 2014
posted by Canon Dakin on 26-06-2014

Corpus Christi

Today is the feast of Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ. Forget transubstantiation - to explain that you have to go into the philosophy of Aristotle as it was harnessed by St Thomas Aquinas. There is a simpler way:  before the consecration we say ‘It is bread’; after the consecration we say ‘It is Christ’. All the appearances of bread remain - weight, size, taste, but the inner reality is the person of the risen Jesus.  Now that would be a fairy-tale, too good to be true if it didn’t fit into the bigger picture which we find in the gospel.

“As I myself draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will draw life from me”. God is a relationship between persons. In baptism we enter into that relationship; we enter into a relationship with God; we enter into God. Through the Eucharist that relationship is strengthened but because the relationship is between real living persons the Eucharist conveys to us the actual presence of the living Lord Jesus. For each one of us, therefore, it is not an exclusive isolated relationship - through our link with Jesus we are all interrelated.  Remember St Paul this morning: “The bread that we break is a communion with the body of Christ. The fact that there is only one loaf means that though there are many of us, we form a single body because we all have a share in this one loaf.”

 

The form, the shape of the bread that we use at Mass, is significant. Before we grew more sensitive to the symbolism of the liturgy the priest would consecrate a ciborium holding perhaps 500 individual rounded altar breads which he would take from the tabernacle to satisfy the requirement for Holy Communion at all the Sunday Masses and perhaps also during the following week.  The sacred action actually consists in the presentation by the people of bread and wine which is then returned to them transformed by the Eucharistic Prayer into the person of Our Lord. Individual small hosts send the wrong message - implying that this transaction is just between me and my God. It crucially involves all the others who themselves are united to Jesus. That is why the breaking of the bread is important - the sharing, as far as possible, of one large host - the broken piece that we receive is a reminder that we are part of a whole - that we have a place in a community - that our communion is to be a review of our place in that community - an examination of the strands of love that bind us - or should.    

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