Mass celebrated at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne
Sunday 3 June 2018, The Feast of Corpus Christi
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Once again, in the joyous context of thanksgiving we come to celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.
Christ is present with us in the Eucharist in the fullness of his Divinity; he who shared our humanity, left his perfect Sacrifice and abiding presence with us when he instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper.
Today is a joyful commemoration of the great gift of the Lord who is constantly present with us to nourish our lives and to lead us to be given for others as he was on the cross and in the Eucharist for the life of the world.
Today we celebrate Corpus Christi. The Eucharist is the memorial of how Jesus suffered and died, but it is also a living communication of the salvation he won for us through our worship of the Sacrament of his Body and Blood.
Many of you will, I am sure, be familiar with Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper, which is on the wall of the dining room in the Santa Maria delle Grazie church in Milan, Italy. It was finished just six years after the discovery of America and it has generated a huge commercial enterprise. You could buy from Target a jigsaw puzzle of the mural for $12.99 or a poster for $24.99 or a framed 22 inch print for $159.99. If you happen to be in Milan you can see the restored mural as part of a walking tour for $71 per person.
For us here today we need only hear the Gospel again and close our eyes to see what really happened at the Last Supper. Jesus took bread and wine, changed them into his Body and Blood, separated because of his death and gave them to his disciples to show that he would be with them for all eternity. Then he uttered the electrifying words: “Do this in memory of me.”
When we in his Church gather around an ordained priest who utters the words of Christ and acts in his person Christ becomes really present and we are called to remember him and to take hold of the saving power he offers for our lives. As we prepare ourselves this morning for Holy Communion we remember that it is the Lord whom we receive, that it is our God whom we seek to serve, and that it is his promise of eternal life for all who are given with him and for him that inspires us to live according to his pattern.
It is easy enough to see the bread and wine separate. They show us that by Jesus’ death he leaves aside self and enters into being the Lord of all. The one whom we offer and receive in Communion is then present in our churches for adoration and is carried to the sick.
On this Feast of Corpus Christi let us concentrate on the reverence with which we receive him, the oneness of mind and heart with which we bring our lives to him, express our sorrow and make our petitions and the deeper contemplation in which we spend time in adoration of the Lord, so that he can influence our thoughts and attitudes, reassure us with the constant presence of his love and carry our homes, our families, our cities and their people onward with hope through life’s journey.
Jesus is the living bread and has promised us that whoever receives him will live forever. Jesus reminds us that we must eat his flesh and drink his blood if we are to have his life, if authentic happiness and oneness with Jesus in his plan for the world is to be part of the life which we enjoy.
This is what he offers us. He invites us to live by him, with him, for him and for others.
+ Denis J Hart
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE