Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Priesthood and Corpus Christi

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

To the disciples who suggested to our Lord that he should dismiss the crowd so that they could buy their provisions, the Lord said, “You yourselves give them to eat.” At that time, the disciples thought that the Lord was requiring them to feed the crowd from their own pockets. And so they protested that they have only so few provisions that they would not be able to fulfill their task. It would be at the last supper on Holy Thursday evening that they would begin to understand the task that they were ordained for. At the last supper, the Lord Jesus took bread and wine and consecrated these as his body and blood. And then, on that same night, the Lord will ordain these apostles as priests of the new covenant. The ordination took place when the Lord mandated these men to “do this in memory of me.” Both the Eucharist and Holy Orders were established on the same day (Holy Thursday) because they cannot be separated from each other. Without a priest, the Eucharist cannot take place because only an ordained ministry can consecrate the Body and Blood of the Lord. On the other hand, the Eucharist is the reason for the priest’s identity. The priest is a priest because he is the one who offers the sacrifice of the Mass.

Thus, when the Lord told his disciples: “You yourselves give them to eat,” he was referring to the Eucharist. His disciples, ordained priests on the night when the Lord was betrayed, are to imitate the Lord who on that same night took bread and wine, blessed them and said, “Take this all of you and eat of it, this is my body…drink from it, this is the chalice of my blood.” The food that the priests are to give  is not their own but the flesh of Christ. The drink that the priests are to give is not their own but the blood of Christ. The priests of the New Testament offer food and drink that is better than anyone can offer. All food and drink can satisfy bodily hunger and thirst and cannot do more than just sustain bodily life. None of them can keep a person from dying. (Last week, I had the wonderful privilege of offering a funeral Mass for a woman who died at the age of 101 years. I was so amazed at her age that I asked her children: What did she do to live this long? They answered: Oh Father, she lived on a simple diet of vegetables and fish. However, even with a very balanced and nutritious diet, death kept up with her at 101 years. She had to die sometime. None of them can keep her from dying.) The Eucharist, Christ’s flesh and blood, alone brings to us the assurance of the resurrection from the dead and life everlasting. While all else perish, this alone is the food that lasts unto everlasting life. And so, let us take advantage of the opportunities to worthily receive Holy Communion. If only we realize who is it that we receive in the Eucharist, we will not hesitate to say, “Lord, give us this food.” The one we receive is He who said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” He is the one who said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” He is the one who said, “I am the living Bread come down from heaven. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood will have eternal life. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine.

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