DCN WILLIAM'S HOMILY
Year B 2021
Transubstantiation – it’s a bit of a mouthful. But my friends, this word is packed with meaning and awe. Although it might be a tongue twister, it’s a lot easier to understand than you think.
When we break it down to its roots, we get two words in particular. Trans; changing thoroughly, and substance; stuff or matter. Due to our changing times, both words denote different meanings today, but for our purposes, we’ll be exploring these words through their older heritages.
When we speak of transubstantiation in the Church, we mean the changing of the bread and wine into The Body and Blood of Jesus. The matter (or substance), once bread and wine, has become flesh and blood.
The Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus (also known as Corpus Christi) was a late addition to the medieval festivals of the thirteenth century. More specifically, it was a response to the doctrine of transubstantiation discussed at the Council of Trent.
Today many countries celebrate the Feast with a procession through the streets of their local area. The Brisbane Archdiocese has hosted a few in previous years. Suppose you’ve ever seen a procession before. In that case, you’ll notice that the worshippers flow like a river into the ocean that is the Eucharist which leads the way.
We dive into this mystical exchange every time we gather for Mass. ‘Do this in memory of me,’ are the words that the priest echoes during the Eucharist. These were the words sanctified by Christ himself when he instituted the Eucharist. They come alive through the Spirit when we recall the events of the Last Supper and Jesus’ crucifixion because in this meal is our redemption.
Our ancestors ate of the garden, the food that led to death and sin, yet Jesus gives of himself as food and says live. The food that separated humanity from the garden, and ultimately God, was restored in Christ, who continues to nourish, sustain and provide for us in abundance. This is why we call Jesus the Bread of Life.
Our invitation during the Eucharist becomes a lot more phenomenal when we realise that we too are invited to become the same – Bread of Life. Just as the substance that is transformed on the altar, we too are called to become what we eat. As Jesus provides and nourishes us, so too are we invited to provide and nourish others. In this process, not only do we become Bread of Life for others but also, we live out our baptismal reality and become the Body of Christ connected through the Spirit. The Spirit transubstantiates us.
So, when we say Amen to receiving Christ, we incorporate our thanks, our belief and our reality. We are gifted with the opportunity to be a part of our own redemption. We feast on the meal of Jesus’ self-giving love and are affected by it.
This Sunday, take some time to look at Christ during the elevation. See in him your potential and your gift. May our lives be transformed as we partake of this Eucharistic meal.