Corpus Christi intends to underline our unity (communion) with Christ - the Body, and we - his members. Every Eucharistic celebration is a source of communion that finds its summit in the Holy Communion. While the Body and Blood of Christ nourish us spiritually, there is a tendency to forget and neglect the social justice dimension of the Eucharist. The Solemnity of Corpus Christi is an appropriate occasion to recall that aspect. On the Occasion of the Year of the Eucharist (October 2004 to October 2005), Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Mane Nobiscum Domine said: “Can we not make this Year of the Eucharist an occasion for diocesan and parish communities to commit themselves in a particular way to responding to one of the many forms of poverty present in our world?” He cautioned that “The criterion by which the authenticity of our Eucharistic celebrations is judged, will be our mutual love and in particular our concern for those in need”. The Apostle Paul says that it is “unworthy” of a Christian community to partake of the Lord’s Supper amid division and indifference towards the poor (1 Cor 11:17-22, 27-34). Our Catechism (1397) tells us: “To receive in truth the Body and Blood of Christ given up for us, we must recognize Christ in the poorest, his brethren”. The Eucharistic meal is shared equally by the faithful. There is no division. Yet we often leave from this “meal” only to condone division or discrimination against our brothers and sisters according to the social categories in which we place them. Continued injustice, discrimination and other forms of structural injustices reflect either a lack of understanding of the social dimensions of the Eucharist or a lack of willingness to act on the social imperatives of the Eucharist. Our celebration of the Eucharist cannot be divorced from the injustices around us. “The Eucharist commits us to the poor” (Catechism, 1397). The US Catholic Bishops said in 2003, the Eucharist challenges us “to seek a place at the table of life for all God’s children”.
The Scriptures offer us a deeper understanding of the close relation between the Eucharist and this universal mission of the Church. Christ, "the living bread that came down from heaven" (Jn 6: 51; cf. Gospel Acclamation), is the only one who can satisfy the hunger of human beings of every time and in every corner of the earth. The miracle of the multiplication of loaves is a symbol of God’s overabundance for al, but also a symbol of Christ’s compassion and love renewed every day at Holy Mass. As we receive the Eucharist we become living instruments of the presence of God’s compassion, love, mercy and peace. The Gospel passage from Mark on the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper not only underlines God’s covenant sealed with the Blood of His Son, but also the unity brought about by the sharing in the Eucharistic meal. The Eucharist is therefore a great sign of unity and communion with Christ and with one another. What message do we take home this Sunday? 1) The Eucharist is a real memorial of the sacrifice Christ offered for the liberation of everything that oppresses human beings, but above all liberation from sin. 2) Our Sunday celebration of the Eucharist cannot be divorced from the injustices around us because at its very heart, the Eucharist is a proclamation of social justice. 3) The Eucharist is the most powerful language Jesus has spoken to us, but the power of that language can easily be lost if we neglect its application on the social level; if it impact ends only on the personal level.
©2018 John S. Mbinda