WORD OF CONSOLATION on the feast of CORPUS CHRISTI
On the occasion of the feast of Corpus Christi, the feast of the Mass, we as your bishops of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference, feel deeply our inability to share the Eucharist with you. We miss you. We know that you, beloved Catholics, miss also the celebration of this beautiful feast as you remain largely isolated.
What memories arise in us as we remember the happy time of days gone by when we went in procession on this day, when we decorated our churches and altars, attended benediction, knelt in adoration and often made our first holy communion. This year, out of charity for the health of our neighbors, we remain alone and distant from the holy sacrament.
At Mass you always heard the words of the Lord; “Do this in memory of Me”. These words can also be translated as: “When you do this you bring me back”. In His death and Resurrection Jesus lives out the unique event of history which does not pass away. All other historical events happen once and are then swallowed up in the past. The event of the Cross and Resurrection abides and is always immediately present. (CCC 1085).
Yes, at Mass we are brought to the saving Lord Himself. The words of today’s gospel bring home what is happening; “My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day”. He is immediately present to us. We are not alone.
We miss the experience of community on such a feast for as St Paul says in the second reading; “The fact that there is one loaf means that though there are many of us, we form a single body because we all have a share in this one loaf”. The fact of being alone accentuates our feeling of loneliness.
But Jesus can find us anywhere. He gave bread to the crowds who listened to Him preaching. He fed the leper who knelt before Him with the bread of healing. He offered the bread of human kindness to the lonely woman at the well. To sinners He offered the bread of forgiveness. To the widow of Nain he offered the bread of companionship. To the thief on the cross He gave the bread of reconciliation and eternal life.
But let this distance from the Eucharist alert us to the deep meaning and challenge of approaching the altar. Though the Eucharist is a moment of adoration it is especially a commitment to action. The dream of the Lord in surrendering Himself is that we love one another by reaching out to those who suffer, the poor, the homeless, the lonely the sick, the rejected and the victims of covid-19.
Many in South Africa are isolated in this pandemic and feel hopeless and insecure. By reception of the Eucharist we must embrace those who are struggling, who live on the edge, who feel unwanted. If we learn from the Lord in the Eucharist to care and share, then others will live and the Lord’s dream for our world will become a reality.
If we become that which we receive then when we later come to Mass together He will fill us with a new and wonderful joy.
Archbishop William Slattery ofm.
For more information kindly contact: Archbishop W. Slattery OFM – +27 83 468 5473, E-mail: email@example.com