Gospel & Reflection 2nd June 2024

The Feast of Corpus Christi – The Body and Blood of Christ.

Mark 14:12‐16,22‐26

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was sacrificed, his disciples said to Jesus, ‘Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the city and you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him, and say to the owner of the house which he enters, “The Master says: Where is my dining room in which I can eat the Passover with my disciples?” He will show you a large upper room furnished with couches, all prepared. Make the preparations for us there.’ The disciples set out and went to the city and found everything as he had told them, and prepared the Passover.

And as they were eating he took some bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to them. ‘Take it,’ he said ‘this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had returned thanks he gave it to them, and all drank from it, and he said to them, ‘This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many. I tell you solemnly, I shall not drink any more wine until the day I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.’

After psalms had been sung they left for the Mount of Olives.


Friends, last weekend we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Trinity. I mentioned the great St. Thomas Aquinas and how there were few his equal regarding his intellect, understanding and relationship with the Triune God. But one such equal would be St. Augustine. Augustine was a fifth century Algerian Saint and a remarkable man. Just one of his many famous sayings was when he said of God: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

Well, if there was ever a person, ever a Saint who knew well the restlessness of life and the search for an ultimate meaning, it was Augustine. He was the innovator of what we might now call a ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ lifestyle! He sought wine, women, and song, and enjoyed all three in abundance. For years, he believed that the fulfilment of worldly desires would bring him true happiness and contentment. However, that lifestyle only left him only empty and lonely, until he found meaning, purpose and contentment where he least expected to find it.

He wrote: “Late have I loved you, beauty so ancient and so new…. Lo, you were within, but I outside…you were with me, but I not with you.”

And what just had he found that he described with those beautiful words? He had found Christ and found Him in the Eucharist. He wrote again: “You called, shouted, broke my deafness; I gasped; I tasted you and now I hunger and thirst.” I tasted and now I hunger! Augustine’s life was turned round by finding Christ and receiving Him in the Eucharist and by spending time with Christ in Eucharistic Adoration. And what a difference it made. His aimless life was directed on a course which still inspires and encourages people to this day.

But friends, what is the Eucharist to us? In whose presence do we believe we are in when we look towards the Tabernacle and know that the Eucharistic is within it? They might sound like simple questions but sometimes peoples answers can be shocking. It is astonishing to think about but many Catholics do not believe in the real presence! Many think that it is just not credible that the Eucharist is Christ. For some people communion is a token, a gesture, a reminder of Christ!

The great American novelist and devout Catholic, Flannery O’Connor, was having dinner with friends in a New York restaurant one evening. Aware of her crippling shyness but knowing her deep faith and trying to draw her into conversation, one of those at table turned the discussion towards religion and described the Eucharist as a “lovely, little symbol”. The young and timid O’Connor replied immediately: “Well, if it’s only a symbol, then I say, to hell with it.” And she was right!

For O’Connor, just like Augustine and I am sure like us all here, the Eucharist is much more than a symbol or a token or a gesture. We believe it to be what Christ said it is – His Body and Blood. We take Christ at His word. No token could have changed St. Augustine’s life so completely; no gesture could have made a naturally shy woman explode with passion as Flannery O’Connor did; no “little symbol” could have made such a difference in the life of many Saints, martyrs and believers down through the centuries – satisfying their and our faith, lives, and hopes.

Friends, at the Altar, in communion, through the Tabernacle, Jesus is here, Jesus is present. It is this truth that makes sense of everything else we believe about Him. It is this that allows us all to approach God with confidence with any request. Believing in the Real Presence opens our lives to the power of Christ moving and working in our lives. Disbelieving, closes us off from Christ who wishes only to be intimate with us.

To paraphrase a great writer, to believe, or not to believe, that is the question. On this Feast of Corpus Christi, we are asked to give an answer.

Fr. Richard