One feature of the Notre Dame fire reporting was the sensitive details of the Priest and his helpers entering the burning building to remove the Blessed Sacrament from the Tabernacle. That action was comforting to many, appreciated, and seemingly not the subject of ridicule. In the recent past, the same Cathedral had its high altar profaned by the revolutionaries who enthroned the goddess of reason on that same altar that so often held the Sacrament in that place for the life of the world.
That same world, since the time of the Last Supper, has asked many questions about the Body and Blood of Christ. Even the Scripture records some of the doubts. It is comforting in these days to see respect offered to that action in Paris. In one sense, it highlights the position of Paul as stated in today’s Scripture, “This is what I received from the Lord, and in turn passed on to you”.
We reserve the Eucharist so that it can be passed on to those who cannot participate in the consecrating action.
Paul, the great Paul, was like each of us. We inherit a tradition that has been passed on. Only twelve were present on that fateful night; all since have been on the receiving end and charged with the responsibility to pass it on.
This gift is an extraordinary gift. Taking a point from today’s Gospel, it is a gift of abundance, offered freely to saints and sinners, to the very poor and rich, all are one and the same before the Host. It can be, and is, offered in lonely places, on battle fields, in outback humble churches, in large magnificent Cathedrals. It is offered for the living and the dead, for health and wellbeing, for safety and deliverance.
It is mysterious.
It is also simple… “Take and eat. Take and drink!”
Like all his teaching, we have to ponder and pray, we have to respond to the invitation clothed with the appropriate wedding-feast garment.
Honed in the Jewish Passover ritual, today we participate in the New Covenant built on their tradition “to give thanks, to praise, to glorify, to honour, to exalt, to extoll and to bless”, he who wrought our salvation. This we do in service, in memory of him who came as one who serves.
“It is in giving that we receive”. Nourished by his body and blood we move to our homes, workplaces and leisure spots to share our beliefs and to strive for justice and peace.