This week's feast (celebrated today on the universal calendar and transferred to Sunday in the United States), gives us the opportunity to offer thanks and praise to God for sending his Son as our Redeemer; to give thanks and praise to Jesus Christ for loving us "to the end" (John 13:1) and offering himself in obedience and humility; and to give thanks and praise to the Spirit for constantly renewing the face of the earth, enlivening us to live our faith.
St Paul says: "the cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the Blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the Body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread" (I Cor. 10: 16-17). In these words the personal and social character of the Sacrament of the Eucharist likewise appears. Christ personally unites himself with each one of us, but Christ himself is also united with the man and the woman who are next to me. And the bread is for me but it is also for the other. Thus Christ unites all of us with himself and all of us with one another. In communion we receive Christ. But Christ is likewise united with my neighbour: Christ and my neighbour are inseparable in the Eucharist. And thus we are all one bread and one body. A Eucharist without solidarity with others is a Eucharist abused. And here we come to the root and, at the same time, the kernel of the doctrine on the Church as the Body of Christ, of the Risen Christ...
Christ gives us his Body in the Eucharist, he gives himself in his Body and thus makes us his Body, he unites us with his Risen Body. If man eats ordinary bread, in the digestive process this bread becomes part of his body, transformed into a substance of human life. But in holy Communion the inverse process is brought about. Christ, the Lord, assimilates us into himself, introducing us into his glorious Body, and thus we all become his Body.
In light of Pope Benedict's message, I believe this feast also calls us to examine our consciences regarding our participation in the Eucharistic feast. Do we live as someone who is grafted to the vine of Christ? Are we willing to love "to the end," even if it means suffering unjustly? Are we willing to forgive as our Lord did, even as he suffered on the cross? Do we seek reconciliation, and unity?
In the words of Eucharistic Prayer III (co-opted for this blog's title):
Grant that we who are nourished by his body and blood,
may be filled with his Holy Spirit,
and become one body, one spirit in Christ.