Eucharistic conversations with a God who loves us

On this solemnity of Corpus Christi, I invite us to think of the words and gestures of the Mass as a conversation between friends — friends who love one another so deeply that they would lay down their lives for one another (see the words of Christ in John 15:13).

Indeed, this conversation does take place during the Mass when God speaks to us, and we speak to God. In fact, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, this conversation continues even after the Mass, in the interior of our hearts, for Christ has come to dwell with us, as in a tabernacle (cf. No 2722).

This conversation began long ago, when Christ told us (as he tells us again in the Gospel reading this Sunday, and during every Eucharistic celebration):

“Take it; this is my body. … This is my blood … .which will be shed for many” (Mk 14:22-24).

With these words, however, Christ also signals more than a conversation, more than an exchange of words. He offers the exchange of life for life. Thus, it is with these same words that Christ offers us the “sacrament of charity, the Holy Eucharist” each and every Mass. This sacrament “is the gift that Jesus Christ makes of himself, thus revealing to us God’s infinite love for every man and woman” (Sacramentum Caritatis, No. 1).

June 2 – The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi

Ex 24:3-8

Ps 116:12-13, 15-16, 17-18

Heb 9:11-15

Mk 14:12-16, 22-26

Put differently, these words and “[t]his wondrous sacrament make[s] manifest that ‘greater’ love which led him to ‘lay down his life for his friends’ (Jn 15:13)” (Sacramentum Caritatis, No. 1).

During the Eucharistic celebration, various responses are offered. For example, the priest’s declaration of “The mystery of faith!” “With these words … the priest proclaims the mystery being celebrated and expresses his wonder before the substantial change of bread and wine into the body and blood of the Lord Jesus, a reality which surpasses all human understanding” (Sacramentum Caritatis, No. 6).

Put differently, these words acknowledge the mystery of God drawing near to us. So near that we don’t need words, but only to receive God into our very selves.

Yet, we, too, have words to speak. We pray, for example, the Our Father, a prayer which is nothing less than a summary of the Gospel, of our praise, and our desire for forgiveness (cf. Catechism, No. 2761).

But more importantly, we speak (or sing!) the “great Amen.” This simple word is our “yes” to God. And thus, it is not just a response to God’s own words, but to the gift of Godself to us. It is the laying down of our lives with and for his.

From hearts of the saints

And so perhaps it is interesting to close with the words of some of our saints: words that they spoke to God in the Eucharist, from the interior of their hearts:

The much beloved Maximilian Kolbe once extolled the wondrous Eucharistic Communion, saying to Christ: “You come to me and unite Yourself intimately to me under the form of nourishment. Your blood now runs in mine. … Who would have ever imagined such [a miracle]!”

And, Thomas Aquinas, so well-known for his love of learning and understanding, spoke to the Eucharist upon his deathbed in these words: “I receive you, price of my soul’s redemption, I receive you, Viaticum for my pilgrimage: for whose love I have studied, kept watch and labored and preached and taught” (from Albert & Thomas, p. 265).

Indeed, Thomas Aquinas, also gave us some of the words used when celebrating this solemnity of Corpus Christi (i.e. the Lauda Sion sequence), which we could say (or sing!) to Christ ourselves:

“Very bread, good shepherd, tend us, / Jesu, of your love befriend us, / You refresh us, you defend us, / Your eternal goodness send us …”

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