Today we celebrate the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. In Mark’s account of Jesus’ Last Supper the disciples talk to him about his own Passover. Jesus reminds them that eating that meal together pledges them to share the same commitment and fate. While they were at supper, Jesus shockingly altered their ritual prayers. Instead of simply thanking God for the saving actions of the past, Jesus added his own name to the traditional litany of blessing. By doing so, he bade his friends to partake in his own self-giving.
When Jesus took the cup, a blessing cup they were accustomed to sharing, he gave it to them and they all drank of it. After they had drunk, he explained that it was the cup he had promised they would drink with him (Mark 10:39). It was their share in the cross he would take up, the symbol of losing their lives for him and the Gospel in such a way that by losing their life they would be saved. When they drank from that cup they signed a blank check of solidarity with him and his cause. They pledged themselves to full communion with him and he with them. Today we are bidden to ponder Christ’s question, “Can you drink the cup? Do you want this communion with me?” We are tempted to join Jesus’ followers who too easily answer, “Yes! We want to see your glory!” Like the disciples who asked Jesus where they should prepare for him to go through his Passover sacrifice, we facilely thank God for the eucharistic presence. We behave with reverence in our temples and pray, “I am not worthy…but only say the word” before we process to the altar to receive the Eucharist. But Christ doesn’t let his disciples off so easily. After he said, “Take and drink,” he said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.” That was what they imbibed. That was what they took in so that it could become a part of their inmost self.
When Augustine taught about the Eucharist he offered these time-honored insights:
So now, if you want to understand the body of Christ, listen to the Apostle Paul speaking…”You are the body of Christ, member for member” (1Cor. 12:27).
…You are saying “Amen” to what you are: your response is a personal signature, affirming your faith.
…Be a member of Christ’s body, then, so that your “Amen” may ring true!
When we take our place in the Communion procession, Christ invites us not just to see and touch and taste. He calls us beyond our hymns of praise to where we can truly grasp what he offers and allow it to grasp us.
We cannot allow our marvel at the transformation of bread and wine to obscure how we are called to allow ourselves to be consecrated. Christ present in the Eucharist says to us, “Receive what you are and become what you receive; be flesh and blood given for the life of the world. (Taken from Mary McGlone’s Commentary in Celebration)