The Holy Eucharist that Binds Us Together

Solemnity of the Body & Blood of Christ | Year B

Gospel: Mark 14:12-16, 22-26

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?”

He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him. Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”‘ Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.”

The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover.

While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.


Other Readings: Ex 24:3-8; Hebrew 9:11-15


REFLECTION | HOMILY

foodwinefestivalONE of the many festivals here in Melbourne that I wish my family and I could go is the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, which is usually held from February to March every year. But we cannot always go and participate in that festival. I take comfort in the fact that we can always celebrate the cultural diversity in foods that we have here in Melbourne even if we could not attend the festival by just living in West. We don’t have to go to Lygon Street to try some Italian dish or in Brunswick for authentic Kebabs or Shawarma or in Richmond for one Asian delights after the other. Just walk along Caroline Springs Boulevard, we can have the different culinary experience every day or every week; we got Indian, Japanese, Malaysian, Italian restaurants in addition to the popular Maccas, KFC, Nando’s and many others. [I better move on before my homily sounds more like free advertisement for these establishments.] But the first point I want to highlight here is that food is one of the few absolutes in life; the very energy for life and the essential element for growth. Food makes us what we are and enables us to become who we are meant to be.

We can say the same thing when it comes to the Holy Eucharist, which is the focus of our celebration today: the solemnity of the body and blood of Christ. As Christians, the Holy Eucharist is the essential element for our spiritual growth. By partaking the body and blood of Christ in the form of bread and wine, we become part of the body of Christ. Indeed, through the Eucharist, we become Christ “for the Eucharist contains the entire spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ Himself, our Passover and living bread, offering through His flesh, living and life-giving in the Spirit, life to men who are thus invited and led on to offer themselves, their labours, and all created things together with Him” (Eucharisticum Mysterium, 6).

pp-sing1However, there is more to ingesting food than to satisfy the basic need for survival. And if we think about it, even in this time of fast foods and eating on go—or even on the run, there still remains that instinct in every one of us to bring others to our table and invite each other to share a meal together.

pp-singBefore I was ordained deacon, I belong to group called Pangkat Pinoy which simply means ‘Filipino Group’. And I share with this group two things that I love to do—singing, because the group is one of the first Filipino Choirs in Melbourne, and eating. We love to sing together and we like to eat together—maybe more of the latter that we sometimes call ourselves Pangkat Kain or Eating Group. But whether singing together or eating together, there is always this notion of ‘otherness’ that makes the difference. pp-eatingIt raises the act of eating from just a necessary consumption of food in satisfying the need of the body to survive to a new and higher level; an experience embracing the whole of life and binding those who participate in it into a sense of oneness and deep relationship.

And again, if think about it, all the many occasions or events that we shared and we will share with our families and friends, food and drink will always be present. But ironically, what matters least of all on all these gatherings are the food and drink as elements themselves. It is the feeling of celebration, of sharing and intimacy, of togetherness and affirmation, of joy and compassion and hope that really brings us together. We gather together, we join groups and community because we need our mutual presence, allowing each other to be part of one another.

This makes the celebration of the Eucharist surpass all table gatherings and all feasts; this makes every celebration of the Mass special. Because in the Eucharist there is this deep, personal and vital interaction between the gifts that we are sharing—Christ who is the source of eternal life—and the web of relationships established and nourished because of the sharing of this one bread and one cup. That is why the Eucharist can never be and must not be treated as private thing—a private men-and-God-no-one-else kind of devotion. It should not become for us, as St Paul said to the people of Corinth, just an empty ritual of consuming food and drink for personal satisfaction but lacking that sense of otherness and of memory of the Lord (1 Cor 11:17-22). Instead, the Eucharist should always be understood as celebration by a worshiping community. From the very beginning, the Church have always thought and spoke of the Eucharist—the breaking of the bread—only in terms of oneness and community because that is what Jesus intended it to be.lastsupper

This leads us to another point. If we celebrate the Eucharist, it means we have to take seriously what Jesus intended us to be; that powerful and equivocal command for each one of us to become the source of hope, joy, compassion, mercy; the source of life-giving strength for others. In other words, not only we have to receive the Eucharist, but we must also be and become the Eucharist. This means we are challenged to be ready in bearing each other’s burdens, fostering harmony, sensitivity and encouragement and responsibility for other’s wellbeing, and much more.

A tough challenge, indeed. And living out such a challenge may sometimes hurt us, and hurt deeply and intensely. Yet, if we cannot accept this challenge is to make a mockery of the Eucharist. And yes, our contribution to this challenge of being a presence of God to other may be small and seem insignificant but that very small contribution of presence, togetherness and oneness with our brothers and sisters is essential in order for the Church to be truly the body of Christ.

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