16 Jun Solemnity of the Body & Blood of Christ
Dear friends in Christ,
The word ‘Eucharist’ was used the first time in an early Christian document called the Didache, written sometime between the years 50 and 100. Around the year 155, St. Justin Martyr explained the basic lines of the order of the Eucharistic celebration saying, “On the day we call the day of the sun, all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place. The memoirs of the Apostles and the writings of the prophets are read… He who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things. Then we all rise and offer prayers for ourselves and for all others… we exchange the kiss. Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides… He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father… through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit… all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: ‘Amen.” Deacons give to those present the ‘eucharisted’ bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent.”
Remembering Jesus’ gift of his cross and resurrection is the goal of the Church’s Eucharistic celebration. In the desert Moses who spoke to the Israelites, telling them to remember all the great things God had done for them, especially the ‘manna,’ likewise, the Church calls us to remember the good things God has done for us in the celebration of the Eucharist: “When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again.”
St. Thomas Aquinas asked this question: Why did Jesus give us his Body? Why didn’t he give us his miraculous powers instead? Jesus wants to share his own life bringing all into the unity with God. The author of Didache explains, “As this broken bread, once dispersed over the hills, was brought together and became one loaf, so may your Church be brought together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom.”
As we celebrate the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, let’s remember people in many parts of the world today who are hungry for food. But human hunger is much more than just for physical food, it is for justice, peace, freedom, love, and above all, for God. But the Eucharist alone can satisfy the hunger of our soul for God and eternal life.