Readings: Gn 14:18-20; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Lk 9:11b-17
Eucharistic communion, social justice and inclusiveness are the key words that help to focus on the central message of this Sunday. The Solemnity of Body and Blood of Christ underlines our unity with Christ - the Body, and we - his members. Christ is the source of our communion with one another and with the Father. But while the Body and Blood of Christ unites and nourishes us spiritually, we can easily forget or neglect the social justice dimension of the Eucharist. Yes, there are social imperatives of the Eucharist. On the Occasion of the Year of the Eucharist (2004 to 2005), Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Stay with us Lord proposed that diocesan and parish communities commit themselves in a particular way to responding to one of the many forms of poverty present in our world. He said 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 teaches 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) underlines this point in reminding us that “To receive in truth the Body and Blood of Christ given up for us, we must recognize Christ in the poorest, his brethren”. When the Eucharistic meal is shared equally by the faithful there is no division. The solemnity draws our attention to the continued injustice, discrimination and other forms of structural injustices that 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 therefore cannot be divorced from its social implications. The US Catholic Bishops in 2003 said that, the Eucharist challenges us “to seek a place at the table of life for all God’s children” (cf. A Place at the Table).
The Gospel reading from Luke on the miracle of the multiplication of loaves underlines this social-justice dimension pointing to Christ’s compassion and love that is renewed every day at Eucharistic celebration. By eating this heavenly food, we become one Ohana in Christ, sharing in his life, his strength, his purpose and mission. So 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 by its very nature, the Eucharist is a proclamation of communion and inclusiveness. 3) There is an essential relation between our sharing of the Eucharist each Sunday and the food items we bring for distribution to the poor through our parish social ministry. Our Eucharistic faith is essentially linked to feeding the hungry.
©2019 John S. Mbinda