Your membership in the Body of Christ does not stop when Mass is over and you step out of the church. Instead, we must continue to be Christ’s body for the world.Fr. Sam Nasada, OFM
When we hear the words “the Body of Christ,” perhaps we immediately think of the transubstantiated host that we receive at Mass. After all, the priest or Eucharistic Minister always reminds us of this when we come up to receive communion and they say, “The Body of Christ,” and we respond with “Amen!” However, Christ’s real presence is not limited to the Eucharistic species. The Church’s Constitution on Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium states:
To accomplish so great a work, Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, “the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross”, but especially under the Eucharistic species. By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes. He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).
This last part is often overlooked. In liturgical celebrations, Christ is present in us who are participating. In a way, we become the Body of Christ. As St. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 10:16-17:
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
So the next time you come up to receive communion, remember that you are not only saying “Amen!” to affirm that what you receive is the Body of Christ. You are also saying “Amen!” to you yourself becoming a part of the Body of Christ. St. Augustine of Hippo wrote this beautiful sermon on the Eucharist:
Be what you see. Receive what you are… If you receive the Eucharist well, you are what you eat. If you, therefore, are Christ’s body and members, it is your own mystery that is placed on the Lord’s Table! It is your own mystery that you are receiving! You are saying “Amen” to what you are… Be therefore, members of Christ that your “Amen” may be true. Your membership in the Body of Christ does not stop when Mass is over and you step out of the church. Instead, we must continue to be Christ’s body for the world.
As St. Teresa of Ávila said:
Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
Peace, Fr. Sam Nasada, OFM
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