Mass celebrated at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne

Sunday 18th June 2017, Feast of Corpus Christi

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The feast of Corpus Christi has always reminded me how real and close is Jesus when present to us. In the sacrifice of the Mass what he did on the cross in death is made present again and the bread and wine consecrated become his Body and Blood, the food and medicine for our souls.

I have often said here that whether in the celebration of Mass where we prepare by listening to God’s Word and then the bread and wine are changed so that Jesus becomes really present, we are drawn into unity with our God in a marvellous and wonderful way, which will never end.

As we celebrate the Mass we ought do so with full heart and voice joining in and silently pondering as the priest prays the Eucharistic Prayer. Our God is present just as really as the person next to us.

In writing about the Eucharist in 2007, Pope Benedict says: “With deep human insight Saint Augustine clearly showed how we are moved spontaneously whenever we encounter something attractive and desirable. Asking himself what it is that can move us most deeply, the saintly bishop went on to say: ‘What does our soul desire more passionately than truth?’ Each of us has an innate desire for ultimate and definitive truth. The Lord Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life, speaks to our thirsting, pilgrim hearts yearning for the source of life, our hearts longing for truth. Jesus is the truth in person drawing the world to himself ……

In the Eucharist Jesus shows us the truth about love which is the essence of God. That is why the Church, which finds in the Eucharist the very centre of her life, is concerned to proclaim to all that God is love. Because Christ has become for us the food of truth the Church turns to every man and woman inviting them freely to accept God’s gift.” (Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, 2)

In this mysterious way Jesus Christ chose to be with us in the Church until the end of time. We can say that the Eucharist is a mystery of faith because it is a personal encounter with Jesus, an encounter and a presence which is real and continues as long as the species remain, so that we can ponder Jesus through adoration in the Blessed Sacrament. Celebration, adoration, thanksgiving are all an essential part of our contact with Christ because the Eucharist is a mystery to be lived.

Today we remind ourselves of the reality of God’s presence. We bow our heads in adoration because it is through the Eucharist that we are saved and brought to the peace of God’s kingdom. Saint Thomas Aquinas in the Sequence says:

“Christ willed what he himself had done
should be renewed while time should run,
in memory of his parting hour:
Thus, tutored in his school divine,
we consecrate the bread and wine;
and low – a host of saving power.”
(Saint Thomas Aquinas, Sequence of Corpus Christi)

So Our Lord is present among us. We are united with his perfect offering to the Father made present in this Mass. Today particularly we ponder the greatness of the gift and the readiness of the Lord to hear us as we turn to him. It is our God among us in this holy place whom we greet with wonder and in whom we find forgiveness, healing and comfort in our sorrows and struggles.

We strive to have in our hearts always the words of the Gospel: “For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him, as I who am sent by the living Father myself draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will draw life from me.” (John 6:55-57)

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.

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