7 June 2015
Homily of the Apostolic Nuncio
His Grace Archbishop Petar Rajič
The Holy Eucharist. In every celebration of Holy Mass we hear the same words of the Lord Jesus spoken during his Last Supper: “Take this all of you, and eat of it, for this is my Body, which will be given up for you”. This is followed by: “Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal covenant”, pronounced by the priest presiding at the celebration. Every time the liturgy of the Mass is celebrated the sacrifice of the Lord is renewed, for he said, “Do this in memory of me”. To eat the Body of Christ and drink his precious Blood, means to receive his very life and to make it our own. By doing so we are thereby accepting the will of God in our lives, which means to love the way Jesus loved, pardon the way he pardoned, serve the way he served, so that by participating in the Lord’s banquet of love we may experience the salvation He has won for us and the peace of the kingdom. (Collect).
We often come to Communion to receive the Body of Christ, yet we can ask ourselves has it become a routine? How well prepared are we to accept the Lord into our life? While walking up in procession towards the altar oftentimes we are distracted by our worries and other thoughts, without being concentrated on the Lord Jesus. Though we go to receive Holy Communion we may be doing so just to seek something from God instead of seeking the Lord himself. It is always important to keep in mind that receiving Communion can never become a routine since it is God who is coming to us in the little host of consecrated bread we receive in the Eucharist.
The Eucharist is a Sharing. Participating in the Eucharist means sharing in the banquet of the Lord. Jesus shared his life with us, up to the point of dying for us and then rising from the dead so we could have new life in him. Sharing is so important in the family. Parents share many things with their children so that they can have a home, food to eat, an education, clothes to wear, and other necessities for their lives. We are called at times to share some of our things with others. This is part of family life and we should do this willingly in order to share the gift of life that we have received from God. Jesus shares with us his very life, which we receive in Holy Communion. Each time we come to Mass, we remember what Jesus did for us, his great sacrifice on Good Friday and his resurrection from the dead three days later on Easter Sunday. Jesus shed his blood on the cross for our salvation. Medical science teaches that blood is very important in the human body and that it is a constantly circulating fluid providing the body with nutrition, oxygen, and removing waste. The average human being has about 5 litres of blood. The Blood of Christ shed on Calvary has cleansed us of our sins and had the effect of being a cleanser or detergent for all the crimes of humanity. The Sacramental Body and Blood of Christ has been given to us to provide us with spiritual nourishment, it gives us the “oxygen” we need to breath the Holy Spirit and remain in touch with God, and it sanctifies us in the Lord thereby protecting us against all the waste and harmful things that can attack our souls.
The Eucharist means Caring. Jesus cared for us so much that he came into the world to offer up his life for us so that we could be saved. He is our true big brother, who loves us and cares for us, that he took the punishment we deserve upon himself. By receiving the Body of Christ in Holy Communion we are all called to care for one another as well. We should always do our best to avoid being selfish and thinking only about ourselves. Instead we should be concerned about our parents, children, brothers, sisters, friends, and indeed those who suffer in various ways in our world, such as refugees, the hungry, the poor, those who are discriminated, those denied their basic human rights, and how we can be good to them.
The Eucharist awakens a sense of Belonging. Jesus established a small circle of friends he called apostles. These were his closest companions during his life on earth and upon finishing his mission he gave them authority to continue his mission of preaching, teaching and sanctifying. These first apostles were the founding members of a community that was to be called the Church. The Church is the family of believers gathered together in common worship of God. We use the same word, church, to describe the buildings we build as places of worship. By receiving Holy Communion we are more closely united to the Lord Jesus and to the community of the Church. We belong to Christ and Christ belongs to us. We are all called to remain faithful friends of Jesus all our lives and also active members of the parish we belong to. Your parish is where you go to church, and where you pray to God along with all the other people attending Mass there. We can be happy knowing that we belong to Jesus, that we are members of his holy Church which has been on earth for over 2000 years now and that we too are called to be Jesus’ friends and followers and living temples of the Lord.
The Body of Christ. When receiving Holy Communion, we hear the words ‘The Body of Christ’. We believe through faith that Christ is truly present in the bread and wine consecrated upon the altar. By receiving the Lord in Holy Communion he enters into us and we become a part of him. This is why we should always receive Holy Communion with true respect, deep devotion and humble gratitude, for Jesus offered up his body and his very life as a sacrifice on the cross for our eternal salvation. This is also a good occasion to remind ourselves of the need to be without the stain of grave sin on our souls when we come to the Eucharist. If we feel we have not been charitable in our lives and have instead of loving committed grave sins of any kind, that is, against any of the Ten Commandments or any of the seven capital sins, then we should make a confession before receiving Holy Communion. The condition of our soul is fundamental in order to reap the full benefits of the Holy Sacrament.
Amen. Our response to the words ‘The Body of Christ’ is a simple four letter word ‘Amen’. This word is spoken every time we make the sign of the cross or say any prayer, for we end it by saying ‘Amen’. This simple word means: so be it, yes, I believe, I accept as true. Jesus often used the word ‘Amen’ in order to emphasize the trustworthiness of his teaching and his authority founded on God’s truth (Cf. CCC 1063). Jesus is the ‘Amen’ of our life and we can entrust ourselves completely to him who is the ‘Amen’ of infinite love and perfect faithfulness (Cf. CCC 1064). By saying ‘Amen’ when we receive Holy Communion, we are in fact expressing our faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that he is our Lord and our God, that he is truly present in the Holy Eucharist, that we believe in everything he says as God’s truth and wish to live our lives according to his teachings in order to follow his example of sacrificial love, by sharing and caring for each other and becoming good and active members of his Church to which we belong.