Mark 14:12-16. 22-26, Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
The Jesuit composer of liturgical music, Fr Manoling Francisco, SJ, has written a song entitled Christify. It is an invented word, no doubt; but so is “transubstantiation”! In Tagalog, I would translate Christify to “gawing si Kristo” or “tulutang maging si Kristo”. Here is what the song says:
Christify the gifts we bring to You,
bounty of the earth receive anew.
Take and bless the work of our hands. Christify these gifts at Your command.
Sun and moon and earth and wind and rain: all the world’s contained in every grain. All the toil and dreams of humankind, all we are we bring as bread and wine.
Turn the bread and wine, our hearts implore, to the living presence of the Lord. Blessed and broken, shared with all in need; all our hungers, sacred bread will feed.
With this bread and wine You Christify, now our deepest thirst You satisfy. We who by this bread You sanctify, draw the world for You to Christify.
For Corpus Christi Sunday, I would propose two points for reflection, both inspired by Fr Manoling’s song: Corpus Christi is about 1) the Christification of our gifts of bread and wine and 2) the Christification of us who receive them in faith
1. CHRISTIFY OUR GIFTS
At the presentation of gifts, the presiding priest quietly says, “Blessed are you Lord God of all creation, through your goodness we have this bread to offer…may it become for us the bread of life.”
The bread itself becomes both a sign and an instrument effecting what it signifies. Its sign-value is evident: from the many grains of wheat, milled into flour, and then kneaded into a mass of dough, the grains become one bread, food that nourishes and gives life. But St. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, goes beyond this signification. He says, “The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.”
It goes the same way with the wine. Again, at the presentation of gifts, the priest says, “Blessed are you Lord God of all creation, through your goodness we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine and work of human hands…may it become our spiritual drink!”
A multitude of grapes is collected, crushed, juiced and fermented in order to become wine. The image itself graphically conjures the meaning that goes with the outpouring blood. In the Eucharist, it goes beyond mere signification. St. Paul also says in 1 Corinthians 10:16, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?”
Through the commemorative act of repeating the Lord’s supper, by the act itself of taking, blessing and partaking of the bread and wine as his body and blood, we reenact the redeeming passion and death of the Lord. In the bread and wine, he becomes truly present, body and blood.
We call it Eucharist; it’s not magic. It’s not really about transforming the bread into God. It makes better sense when seen the other way around. It’s ironic that we are able to imagine in the Eucharist the bread that becomes God, and not the God who becomes bread. It is what we call kenosis, the total self-emptying act of the Son of God on the cross. This kenotic act began already at incarnation, when God allowed himself to be born in human likeness, when he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even death on the cross… (Phil. 2:7-8)
2. CHRISTIFY US WHO RECEIVE THEM
St Augustine says: The Eucharist is a different kind of food. We don’t transform it; it transforms us.” We become what we eat. Like the grains milled, like the grapes crushed, like the body broken, like the blood poured out. A sacrament of LOVE.
Christify us: turn us into bits and pieces of Christ, into parts of his body, the Church. Not only does Christ become present in us through the Eucharist. We become so intimately bonded to each other in Spirit, so that Christ can speak and act through us. He sanctifies us so that through us, he can continue to sanctify the world.
One last note: please do not forget to respond with a loud and clear Amen before receiving the Eucharist. When the priest lifts up the bread and says, “The Body of Christ?”, he is asking a question. He is, in effect, asking if you truly believe that it is Christ whom you are receiving in this humble piece of bread. The Amen means YES, I BELIEVE!