From Pope Francis’ Angelus address for Corpus Christi:
First, the Apostle states that: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (v. 16). These words express the mystical, or let us say, spiritual effect of the Eucharist: it relates to the union with Christ, who in the bread and the wine offers Himself for the salvation of all. Jesus is present in the sacrament of the Eucharist to be our nourishment, to be assimilated and to become in us that renewing force that gives once again the energy and the desire to set out again after every pause or after every fall. But this requires our assent, our willingness to let ourselves be transformed – our way of thinking and acting. Otherwise the Eucharistic celebrations in which we participate are reduced to empty and formal rites. And many times, someone goes to Mass because they have to go, as if it is a social event, respectful but social. But the mystery is something else. It is Jesus who is present, who comes to nourish us.
The second effect is the communal one and is expressed by Saint Paul in these words: “Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body” (v. 17). It is the mutual communion of those who participate in the Eucharist, to the point of becoming one body together, in the same way that one loaf is broken and distributed. We are a community, nourished by the body and blood of Christ. Communion with the body of Christ is an effective sign of unity, of communion, of sharing. One cannot participate in the Eucharist without committing oneself to mutual fraternity – that it be sincere. But the Lord knows well that our human strength alone is not enough for this. On the contrary, He knows that there will always be the temptation of rivalry, envy, prejudice, division … among His disciples. We are all aware of all these things. For this reason too He left us the Sacrament of His real, tangible and permanent Presence, so that, remaining united to Him, we may always receive the gift of fraternal love. “Remain in my love” (Jn 15:9), Jesus said. And it is possible thanks to the Eucharist. Remain in friendship, in love.
This dual fruit of the Eucharist: first, union with Christ and second, communion between those who are nourished by Him, generates and continually renews the Christian community. It is the Church that makes the Eucharist, but it is more fundamental that the Eucharist makes the Church, and allows her to be her mission, even before she accomplishes it. This is the mystery of communion, of the Eucharist: to receive Jesus so He might transform us from within and to receive Jesus so that in Him we might be united, not divided.
I was thinking this day of a popular Catholic hymn often sung in many parishes on this feast. A lot of places, I know, will be going without music and singing and choirs this weekend — if people are even able to go to Mass at all. Below is joyous reminder of Christ’s eternal gift to us all, “I Am the Bread of Life,” from the Notre Dame Folk Choir.
During this troubled moment in the world, this is also a time to remember: we are the Body of Christ.
We are called to carry out Christ’s work in the world. How are we doing that? How are we revealing Jesus to others? Do we reflect healing, hope, mercy, love? As the Holy Father put it:
“This is the mystery of communion, of the Eucharist: to receive Jesus so He might transform us from within and to receive Jesus so that in Him we might be united, not divided.”