Trinity XI 2015
long time ago, before bread rationing began in 1946, my Mother asked me to buy a
cottage loaf on my way home from the library.
makes up bread? It could not be more simple: flour, water, yeast and heat.
wonder the people in the synagogue were bewildered: “How can this man give us
his flesh to eat?” This has bewildered many people down the ages.
St. Thomas Aquinas used Aristotle’s hypothesis of substance and
accidents: many are not happy with this but, seeing that the Eucharistic
elements are indwelt with the Glory, perhaps Transfiguration might be a better
word. At no time does it cease to be bread
as the heretical Bishop Barnes of Birmingham and many others have shouted from
the roof tops and even pulpits but just because it is simple, common for all and
in daily use and without eating and drinking we shall surely die, so Jesus makes
it easy for us and Dom Gregory Dix, in a wonderful purple passage in “
Ever since Jesus first uttered these words people have been confused, that the bread might be somebody’s flesh and the wine the same person’s blood but in the other Gospels it comes in their accounts of the last supper and in every Eucharistic celebration. We have only to reflect briefly on the use of the word “body “in the scriptures to appreciate that it means a whole lot more than a bag of flesh and bones while most Eucharistic hymns dwell lovingly on it: “Body of Christ, be Thou my saving guest” - there is compression for you! Or again from St. Thomas Aquinas:“O blest memorial of our dying Lord/who living bread to men doth here afford/O may our souls for ever feed on thee/and thou O Christ for ever precious be.”
John is the most Eucharistic of the gospels and yet there is no record of what
are erroneously called “the words of institution”; instead we are commanded,
several times, to “eat of my flesh and drink of my blood”.
In all human intercourse having a meal together is our way of making
relationships, celebrating birthdays, meeting up again after a separation,
becoming one with another once again or just acknowledging the reality of that
“oneness” and so it is with us and with Jesus.
transfigured bread is indeed worthy of worship; indeed worshipping Him in this
form makes us aware of the transparent simplicity of this gift.
We cannot, normally, go to Mass and receive the Lord under the forms of
bread and wine more than once in a day, nor does the liturgy provide us with
much space for adoration other than with our voices and bodies as the liturgy
gently progresses but the presence of the sacrament enables this to happen.
Jesus must be focus of the Christian’s prayer and barely hidden He is here to
help and encourage our prayers, our heartbreaks, our bewilderments as well as
our thanksgivings and joys. Above all is the generosity of God in the
Incarnation, becoming a man, experiencing humanity with its ups and downs; the
small boy fascinated and delighted by the magic of helping his mother make
bread, above all watching it rise and, a commonplace in the villages, the
carefully tended vines that were to deliver the centrepiece of his first miracle
- the most alcoholic wedding ever, all those water pots filled to the brim with
vintage Merlot! When God acts he acts big,
so just as bread and wine were in those days, the basics, the transfigured bread
and wine are on offer for all, the good, the bad and the indifferent for in this
life we shall never be worthy but we are
invited. This well-known poem exquisitely
sums up all that I have been trying to say.
Love by George Herbert
Love bade me
welcome. Yet my soul drew back
of dust and sin.
Love, observing me grow slack
my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me,
If I lacked anything.
A guest, I
answered, worthy to be here:
Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind
ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand
and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?
Truth Lord but I
have marred them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not,
says Love, who bore the blame?
My dear then I will serve.
You must sit down,
says Love, and taste my meat:
So did sit and eat.
Aidan Mayoss CR