By Manolito S. Jaldon Jr.,
Director of Evangelization & Faith Formation, St. Brendan Parish
As part of our message series, Mass Communication, each week we will summarize the part of the Mass preached about in the Sunday homily. This week, the spotlight is on the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
I’ll never forget my renowned theology professor, Abbot Jeremy Driscoll. He once made a passionate comment when critiquing, The Song of the Body of Christ. The opening refrain to this communion song begins with, “We come to share our story, we come to break the bread.” The Abbot thrusted his fist against the board and pointed to the crucifix and with all his vigor exclaimed, “It’s not our story! It is His story!” Talk about an unforgettable statement.
In our Lenten message series, Mass Communication, we now come to the central aspect of our Sunday worship. We gather around the altar with the priest ordained in the line of Melchizedek, an eternal priesthood symbolic of Christ, who is our Head and the protagonist of the story retold every Sunday in the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
At the core of the Eucharist is a remembrance of the story of Christ shrouded with words, signs, and gestures and followed by a festive meal. The Christian understanding of our manner of remembrance has its roots in Psalm 111:4, “The Lord has made a memorial for his wonders.” When the Jews remembered, it was not a matter of remembering an event in history. Rather, remembrance in the Jewish religious mindset brought the past to the present, and pointed to the future. All of the past and future were made present through the liturgical celebration. In the same way, we are brought through the narrative of the Lord’s passion into his very hour of glory to be with the central character of the story, Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, when we gather around the altar, we cannot look at the events of salvation history and say to ourselves, “Here’s the Last Supper, now we are at the moment of Good Friday, and now we are moving to Easter.” Rather the whole story of Christ happens all at once.
In the Liturgy of the Eucharist, there are two distinct movements. First, the Church speaks on behalf of the whole of creation seeking to praise God. Here, the Church pleads with the Father to send the Son upon our simple gifts of bread and wine. In a later movement, the Father sends his Son upon these gifts and consecrates the whole assembly to himself, constantly renewing the eternal covenant.
Abbot Jeremy was right that the Liturgy of the Eucharist is not our story. It is the story of Christ. However, the struggling teenager, the lonely elder, the career-oriented person, the newly baptized infant, the hardworking pastor, and many more all find their own story woven into Christ’s, who is the central protagonist of all human history. When we eat his body and drink his blood, his story becomes ours. Our unanswered questions find oration in his voice, “Take and eat . . . this is my body. This is my blood.”
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