DO WE BELIEVE IN CHRIST’S PRESENCE IN THE EUCHARIST?
(A biblical reflection on SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY SUNDAY: THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST – 6 June 2021)
Gospel Reading: Mark 14:12-16,22-26
First Reading: Exodus 24:3-8; Psalms: Psalm 116:12-13,15-18, Second Reading: Hebrews 9:11-15
The Scripture Text
And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, “Where will You have us go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?” And He sent two of His disciples, and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the householder, ‘The teacher says, Where is My guest room, where I am to eat the Passover with My disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready, there prepare for us.” And the disciples set out and went to the city, and found it as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.
And as they were eating, He took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and give it to them, and said, “Take; this is My body.” And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.”
Ang when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.(Mark 14:12-16,22-26 RSV)
In New York City in 1985, Brigitte Gerney got pinned beneath a fallen construction crane. For six torturous hours, paramedics struggled frantically to keep her alive until she could be rescued.
During that ordeal Brigitte was given not only blood transfusions, fluids and painkillers, but also the Eucharist which she specifically asked for. Brigitte was then taken to a hospital where doctors operated on her for another five hours.
The crane accident was only the most recent of a whole series of mishaps Brigitte has suffered. During the previous fifteen years, her first child had drowned accidentally at age 18 months, her husband died of cancer, her father was killed in an automobile accident, she had two operations to remove cancer and she had suffered multiple injuries in a cable car crash in Switzerland in 1982.
And yet, after all that, Brigitte Gerney did not curse Christ when she was under the crane. She asked for Him in the Eucharist. She did not blame God for her bad luck. She asked her rescuers to pray with her. No wonder Dr. Tom Fahey, Jr. said of her: “She has indomitable spirit and a strong faith in God.”
Do we have that kind of faith? Do we believe that strongly in Christ’s presence in the Eucharist? On this Feast of Corpus Christi we have an opportunity to reaffirm our faith in the Eucharist. Today we can take our stand with the people of Exodus and accept God’s covenant with us: “Lord, all you’ve said at the Last Supper about the Eucharist, we will believe. All you have commanded about it, we will do.”
During the Exodus journey God gave the Israelites manna from heaven to feed them. On the strength of that food they were able to travel forty years through the desert.
During her excruciating ordeal Brigitte Gerney requested and received the Eucharist. On the strength of that bread she was able to survive the six hours she was pinned under the crane and another five hours of surgery.
During our own personal journey through life we sometimes have to cross deserts, encounter accidents, endure disappointments or suffer tragedies. By ourselves we could never survive. Left to our own strength we would give up. That is why we need the Eucharist and the strength that comes from this bread to energize our spirits. This is why we need God’s special presence and power.
In Mark’s Gospel we read how our Lord left the upper room and walked out to the Mount of Olives. What He left was the Last Supper during which He instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist. His walking out to the Mount of Olives was also something very sacramental and symbolic. Jesus was showing that He was ready for His rendezvous with destiny and that He was resolved to lay down His life for us on the cross.
May this often be our own experience after celebrating the Eucharist. Coming in we may be afraid of what we have to face in the future. But when we leave, may we be ready and resolved to take up our cross. Coming in we may have serious doubts about how to deal with certain difficulties. But when we leave, may we be filled with determination to do what God expects of us.
Do we believe that this is possible? Brigitte Gerney did. Otherwise how can we explain her indomitable spirit in the face of all the tragedies she experienced?
As we continue the Eucharistic celebration, pray for Brigitte’s kind of faith in the Eucharist; a faith which firmly believes that Christ is always present in the Eucharist, regardless of how absent He may seem to be at times; a faith which believes that Christ’s power is always available to us, regardless of how helpless we may feel at times; a faith which enables us to walk with our Lord to our own Mount of Olives and to rise with Him in glory.
Source: Albert Cylwicki, CSB, HIS WORD RESOUNDS, Makati, Philippines: St. Paul Publications,1991, pages 142-143.
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for feeding and strengthening me with Your body and blood. Thank You for filling my hunger. Light my way as I seek to bring Your life to others. Amen.
Jakarta, 5 June 2021
A Christian Pilgrim