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Sunday Homily, 2 June 2024 - Fr Paul Rowse, OP

We know the Lord’s Eucharistic words by heart.  We’ve heard them countless times.  If one was accidentally left out or, to his shame and disgrace, if the priest deliberately changed them up, you could just about shout it from the pews yourselves.

The Lord said to his Twelve and through them to us all: “This is my body which will be given up for you.”  If the Lord didn’t mean that the Eucharistic bread is his Body, he chose a rather strange way of speaking about it.  This bread is truly his very own Body.

It’s not just the change from ordinary bread to sacred Body which happens here: we too are to be changed.  We know that we are also to be changed because the Lord’s words are addressed to us.  He’s not simply describing the bread of the altar.  But to effect the change from ordinary bread to sacred Body, the Lord addresses us from the altar.  “This is … for you.”  It is a gift which he bestows on us, so that we also change through the Eucharist.  We are changed from sinners to saints, from wicked loners to beloved allies of his kingdom.

We know, therefore, that the Lord’s love for us is to be heard in his Eucharistic words.  He went to the cross out of an abundance of love for us, even in our sins.  But it’s hard to see love on the face of the Son of God through the veil of blood and the immensity of painful trauma he suffered.  So, before all that, the very night before his Passion, the Lord gives us a way of reading the terrible events of Good Friday.  He wants us to know that the Body which is on the cross is ours, to atone for all sin and to open the way to paradise for us.  The Body on the cross isn’t a plaything of tyrants or the triumph of conspirators; it is our Body given to us, given up for us.  It is as if he said: “I am for you.  This is for you.  It is the new and eternal covenant between us.  I am yours and you are mine.”

By giving himself to us before his Passion, the Lord has intertwined our fates.  We have the same death, the same mortality, we and he.  But if we have the same death, and we have his body, then we have the same life too.  “Though you die as a consequence of sin, I shall have died before you to your sins; I live in the freedom of the resurrection and life, and you will live because of me.”

Thus, the Lord takes some of the Passover bread and wine and gives it to us, once changed into his Body and Blood.  It is the food of God’s family, the common meal of which all who live under his roof partake.

And so we approach this great sacrament with gratitude, with thankfulness.  We haven’t earned or deserved this Eucharist.  It has been given: it is “for you.”  It wasn’t given to just anyone and everyone.  It wasn’t the Five Thousand who received the Lord’s Body and Blood; they just got bread and fish.  It wasn’t the Seventy who were sent out in pairs to prepare the way.  But it was the Twelve, who would see the Lord before and after his resurrection.

Let all those therefore with faith in the Lord’s Passion, death, and resurrection receive his Body and Blood.  For it is to those with faith in him that the gift is bestowed, that they may be changed by his grace someday into the living embodiment of his glory.

Fr Paul Rowse, OP

Parish Priest

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