07 Editorial - The Perennial Presence - Fr. Anthony Charanghat

posted May 30, 2018, 11:38 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 31, 2018, 8:08 AM ]
The feast of the Body and Blood of Christ is a moment to reflect on the real perennial presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the greatest of sacraments and a beloved truth of our faith. The liturgy of the Mass this year draws our attention to three important different dimensions of the power, presence and promise of this great Sacrament of Faith.

The Letter to the Hebrews gives us a snapshot of the power of the Jerusalem Temple liturgy on the day of atonement — Yom Kippur, and the ritual in the Temple of a whole array of animal sacrifices. There were sacrifices to atone, to thank, to adore, and to make peace, to make petition. There was a whole array of sacrifices, all striving, straining, and yearning to achieve what Jesus did on Calvary — the perfect complete sacrifice.

The Mass is the true sacrifice, and all the bloody rituals in the Old Testament were the early symbols, foreshadowing what Christ would do. The Mass makes present Christ’s powerful unique Sacrifice of Calvary, the only power that can redeem humankind. We can fuse our petitions, big and small, to the great powerful Calvary sacrifice of Christ.

The Gospel of Mark that offers the narrative of the Last Supper when Jesus says, “This is my Body, this is my Blood.” Christ is present in many ways, but here in the Eucharist, the Lord Jesus is present fully, substantially and in an unobstructed way. Sometimes people say, “We can see Christ in our neighbour.” But that is often difficult. Usually, people’s personalities present a lot of interference. But in the Eucharist, the Lord is present without obstruction — really and truly present.

When we come to church, we do not have to hope that Christ will be here. He is! His presence does not depend on our mood, the degree of faith, or whether we are in the state of grace. Christ is truly here. The Eucharist is the place of Presence. And Christ will abide with us until the end of time. Who knows what changes will occur in the Church over the next several years? But all the years from now, in every Catholic Church, there will always be a tabernacle. It is the abiding presence of Christ in all our joys and sorrows, with us on our life’s journey, like the Ark that travelled with the Israelites wherever they went. The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Christ’s Presence.

The Book of the Exodus takes us to the Holy mountain of the Lord’s promise to be in His people and their promise to be faithful to His law. “We will do everything as the Lord has told us.” The Eucharist is the place of Promise. When we receive Holy Communion worthily, we are promised that we will be one with the Lord someday, face to face. It is a “pledge of the future”, as St Thomas wrote.

The Eucharist is also the assurance of our promise to be faithful, to be loyal to Christ and His Church, to be in communion with the Church. If we receive communion on the tongue, we are promising that our tongue will not lie, deceive, slander, gossip or speak in an un-Christian way. If we receive communion in our hand, we promise we will not turn our hands to violence or destruction, but will use them to build up the Kingdom of God.

When we receive Holy Communion, on the tongue or in the hand, both eloquent and ancient gestures of commitment, we are making a recommitment to Christ — a renewal of our Christian identity. So when we say ‘Amen,’ we are not only making an act of faith (I believe), but also making a promise to follow Christ faithfully. The Mass is the place of promise — God’s promise to us of future glory and our promise of fidelity to Christ and His Church.