Corpus Christi a time when we celebrate one of the most radical aspects of our faith – that somehow, when we celebrate Mass, Christ becomes mysteriously present to us in the form of bread and wine. That’s what our celebration of Corpus Christi is – a celebration of our devotion to the Body and Blood of Christ.
Jesus tells us in John’s Gospel not to look for food that perishes, ‘but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you’. Jesus is talking about himself – he tells us that he is the living bread which has come down from heaven. So our celebration of Corpus Christi is also a celebration of Jesus giving himself to us. Through the Mass, Jesus shows us his desire to become one with us. It’s a way of expressing the connection between our celebration of the Mass of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, and his continued presence in the Sacrament of the Altar.
The Eucharist is also our supreme act of adoration of Christ. We glimpse his presence beneath and within the veil of bread and wine. Through our experience of the Eucharist we enter into an even deeper share in the mystery of Easter and are led to respond gratefully to the gift of him, who through his humanity, pours divine life into us. Through abiding with Christ in his sacramental presence we enjoy intimate friendship with him and are invited to pour out our hearts before him and to pray for the peace and salvation of the world. The Blessed Sacrament, bearing for us the presence of Christ, is a focus for our prayer. Corpus Christi is a celebration of all these things.
Faith in the Lord’s real presence also has a natural consequence in how we witness to him. So Corpus Christi gives us an opportunity to make an act of public witness to our faith and to venerate the Blessed Sacrament. The feast has traditionally had a procession of the Blessed Sacrament (outdoors, if the weather permits!). In processing the Blessed Sacrament we’re reminded that he’s our constant travelling companion and that we should proclaim our Saviour everywhere. And in spending time adoring the presence of Christ in the Sacrament we’re given an opportunity to prolong and intensify all that takes place during the Eucharistic celebration.
There is so much to celebrate in the feast Corpus Christi and so much to give thanks for as we’re given this opportunity to reflect on the wonder and the mystery of the Mass. And in addition to our Mass in the morning, the Diocese has a Corpus Christi celebration in the afternoon at St Mary’s Eastbourne – I hope a number of us can travel over to Eastbourne when Bishop Martin will lead us in a service of Benediction.
‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven.’ John 6.51 2015