"Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death."
We are often told, "You are what you eat." I doubt that those who say this realise the theological implications when speaking to a Catholic. "You are what you eat." It was St Basil who wrote, "Through the Holy Spirit we acquire a likeness to God; indeed, we attain what is beyond our most sublime aspirations - we become God." In the Creed we proclaim, "Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine et homo factus est." Through the Holy Spirit God becomes man and through the Holy Spirit we become God. St Paul really says the same thing when he writes to the Corinthians: "The blessing-cup that we bless is a communion with the blood of Christ, and the bread that we break is a communion with the body of Christ. The fact that there is only 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."
Through our communion with the Body and Blood of Christ we become one with him and, together, in him we become one. "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I in him," are the words of Jesus in John's Gospel. Through the power of the Holy Spirit God became incarnate and through the power of the Holy Spirit bread and wine become the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. "For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats me draws life from me. Whoever eats this bread will live for ever."
Today we thank God for his infinite love and mercy and we give thanks for the particular way in which he chose to save us and share his life with us. God's way is that of total self-giving, the way of the Incarnation, the way of the Cross. Jesus invites us to enter into communion with his death and resurrection by dying to ourselves and to all that separates us from God and our neighbour. We are not merely passive recipients of the sacraments but are called by God to cooperate actively, fully in Christ's redemptive sacrifice. This is our Christian vocation. We too give our lives for the salvation of the world. "This is my body. This is my blood." Total configuration to Christ, this is the meaning of the Mass, of Holy Communion and of Eucharistic Adoration. It is a two-way process: we are what we eat. May our adoration and praise today lead us to a total commitment to live our lives in Christ, so that Christ can live his life in us. His words, "Do this in memory of me," take us beyond the Eucharistic celebration to a life lived as Eucharist, a life of sacrifice and self-giving, a life of praise and thanksgiving, a life centred on Christ, a life in Christ, until God's glory, love and mercy are fully manifested in each one of us and God is all in all.
In his wonderful book "The Shape of the Liturgy", Dom Gregory Dix wrote, "Was ever another command so obeyed? For century after century, spreading slowly to every continent and country and among every race on earth, this action has been done, in every conceivable human circumstance, for every conceivable human need from infancy and before it to extreme old age and after it, from the pinnacles of earthly greatness to the refuge of fugitives in the caves and dens of the earth. Men have found no better thing than this to do for kings at their crowning and for criminals going to the scaffold; for armies in triumph or for a bride and groom in a little country church; for the proclamation of a dogma or for a good crop of wheat; for the wisdom of the parliament of a mighty nation or for a sick old woman afraid to die; for a schoolboy sitting an examination or for Columbus setting out to discover America; for the famine of whole provinces or for the soul of a dead loved one; - one could fill many pages with the reasons why men have done this, and not tell a hundredth part of them. And best of all, week by week and month by month, on a hundred thousand successive Sundays, faithfully, unfailingly, across all the parishes of Christendom, priests have done just this to make holy the people of God."
Today we give thanks to God for the Sacrament that makes us holy. In particular, we thank him for the immense privilege of allowing us to celebrate the holy sacrifice of the Mass for our salvation and for all those whose hearts we touch in prayer. Amen.