By Lara Pickford-Gordon, firstname.lastname@example.org
From the beginning, the Eucharist was a challenge for the early disciples of Christ and still is for the modern-day disciple. Presiding at his first Corpus Christi Mass at the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah, Archbishop Jason Gordon highlighted the scepticism which even Catholics have toward the mystery of the Eucharist.
He said when Jesus told His disciples (John 6:53) unless they ate of His flesh and drank His blood they could not have life in Him, some of His disciples walked away because of His ‘intolerable language’. Archbishop Gordon said, “Who wants to eat of the flesh of a man or drink the blood of a man?….This is cannibalism they were saying to themselves.”
He mentioned young people describing Mass as ‘boring’, and many disinterested adults walk away from the Church because they cannot see what is present in the host or understand what is present in the chalice.
He traced the significance of the flesh and blood of the lamb in the Passover feast celebration when the “Jews remembered the ways in which God had acted in their lives and God’s action had delivered them from Egypt and brought them through the Red Sea, through the desert to the promised land”.
Archbishop Gordon said in the Bible, God fed his people with the flesh of the lamb before asking them to make the passage from slavery into freedom, and the blood of the lamb was used to sprinkle the door of the house so the angel of death would pass. He continued, “In the time of Jesus, the blood of the lamb was collected by the priests and used as a sin offering for the redemption of the people.”
Two elements of the Passover celebration are the flesh and blood of the lamb; in the Eucharist Jesus Christ is the spotless lamb slain. His blood is given for the salvation of sins, and His body so those who believe “may pass from sin into freedom and into being the children of God”.
Archbishop Gordon said in hearing the Passover text when Jesus said, ‘This is my body and ‘This is my blood’, the faithful should also hear the Eucharistic text.
The celebration of the Eucharist is an encounter with God on earth and unless the experience is seen through “eyes of faith” people will only see a “gold cup and a piece of wafer”.
Archbishop Gordon went on, “With the eyes of faith what we see beyond the wafer is the very substance of our God, the very substance of God here amongst us—food for our journey.” The new and eternal Covenant is instituted.
He described the “heavenly reality” unfolding with the celebration of the Eucharist as “heavenly hosts in worship and awe in our presence, and heaven and earth meet”.
The deepest problem facing the Church today is the ‘dumbing down’ of the mystery of the Eucharist. Archbishop Gordon added, “You and I are chosen to be custodian of this mystery and even if we only have three Catholics left in the world those three Catholics would be custodian of the most profound mystery the earth could ever contain. We must understand what we celebrate because what we have before us is Jesus Christ, soul and divinity, body and blood.”
As the Church gathered for Corpus Christi, he beseeched the faithful to reflect in their hearts and go to God secretly asking for conviction of the mystery of the Eucharist and “spiritual eyes” to see the truth.
Msgr Julien Kaboré, Chargé d’Affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature, Fr Christopher Lumsden, vicar for the Northern Vicariate concelebrated the Mass with other clergy. Deacons Lennox Toussaint and Derek Walcott assisted Deacon Michael.
The readings were presented by students, St Joseph’s Convent, first reading Exodus 24:3–8; St Mary’s College, Hebrews 9:11–15. The Psalm 115:12–13, 15–18 was sung by a student of Holy Name Convent.
The pupils of St Patrick’s Newtown Girls’ RC and Newtown Boys’ RC led the hymns under the guidance of Alicia Jaggasar and Noelle Archer with musical accompaniment by Enrico Camejo (guitar), Denicia Riley (guitar), Jeanine Royz (keyboard), Peter Telfer (drums/percussion), Sergio Camejo (drum set), and Dawud Orr (flute). Michelle Charles, head girl of Holy Name Convent and Luke Gooding, head prefect of Fatima College were the mistress and master of ceremonies respectively.
There was a large turnout for the Mass and procession which followed through the streets of Port of Spain. Archbishop Gordon held the monstrance under the canopied tray of a truck. Benediction took place at the Savannah, on Charlotte Street near the Renegades Pan Yard and at the Cathedral where the final blessing and remarks were given.