We celebrate Corpus Christi because the Eucharist defines us
By: By Msgr. Albert H. Hallin
Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)/June 7
Exodus 24:3-8; Psalm 116:12-13,15-16,17-18; Hebrews 9:11-15; Mark 14:12-16,22-26
The reason that the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is celebrated with appropriate solemnity is to make us “Catholics” remember and reflect on the fact that we live, both as individuals and as church, a life sustained by the Eucharist. We are being nourished in our faith lives by eating and drinking the Eucharist as Jesus, our Lord and Savior, commands us to do. Actually, it is the sign of our identity and the common bond of our faith community. It is the reason for our living community.
We may, indeed, have a set of core theological doctrines that we profess and cherish. We have the Jesus story that we must witness to by voice and lifestyle! Sharing that divine love story is among the prime tasks Jesus entrusted to us to do on the Easter morning of His appearance to His apostles.
But announcing and proclaiming are not enough to give us Catholics a reason for engaging our talents and fulfilling our mission. We must live our purpose and mission and for that we must have a sustaining “life force”: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will have no life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I in him.”
Thus a gathering of believers to hear the Word and share His body and blood is how the church emerged in real time and place. For us Catholics, this assembly and faith witness identify us.
In our real-time life experience, receiving our First Holy Communion is a salient moment in our life memories. In our sinfulness, we unfortunately sever our life-sustaining bond and need to repair to our forgiving Lord for restoration. We need that support in sickness, danger, and life-threatening moments as we age. As we, in our church’s history, can become benumbed in our devotion to our life-sustaining Lord, God sends saints and events to stir up our faith in and love for Jesus, our food, with special celebrations and stirring acts of devotion.
Corpus Christi’s solemnity gives us that moment of recommitment, not unlike perpetual adoration does today. Such celebrations remind us Catholics who we are, and must always be — the people of the Eucharist.
Does that define you? It should.
MSGR. ALBERT Hallin has been a priest of the Diocese of Peoria for more than 50 years. Granted senior status and named pastor emeritus of St. Boniface, Seymour, in 2012, he resides in Champaign.