By Kaelanne Jordan
‘Eighty-nine days!’ That’s exactly how long faithful were deprived of the Eucharist due to the closing of churches March 14, from the COVID-19 lockdown.
But as the church officially reopened its doors, today, Thursday, June 11, Archbishop Jason Gordon described the occasion as “quite amazing” for faithful to finally receive the Eucharist on the Feast of Corpus Christi—the Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
The Mass was celebrated virtually via television (Trinity TV and TTT), Facebook live (@catholictt and @trinitytv) and Radio (Heritage Radio 101.7FM and Talk City 91.1FM).
The Archbishop explained that Corpus Christi—a national holiday given to faithful in the 1800s when the English took over from the Spanish rule was enshrined in the laws “that this day…be given in perpetuity for the celebration of this Feast.”
“It was the one thing that was requested and it has stood until now because the Body and Blood of Christ is such an important feast and it symbolises and helps us to understand so much,” he said.
The Second Vatican Council has said that the Eucharist is the Source and the Summit: the fountain from which we drink and the summit, the top of the mountain to which we go.
“It is what we draw from, it is what we go towards. And understanding this image of source and summit is understanding that the Eucharist is given to us as gift above every other gift that God has given to us because it is a gift of God Himself to us His people.”
The Archbishop observed that some persons were confused about the logistics of the day’s Mass. After participating in Mass via TV/online, all faithful were invited to proceed at about 10.15 a.m. to their nearest worshipping community’s carpark or designated area at the church compound to receive Holy Communion. Persons were asked to wear white.
He commented that similarly in the First Reading, the Israelites who were with Moses—the shepherd in the desert were “grumbling” because they did not understand.
He made the analogy of faithful’s not receiving spiritual communion for 89 days to the Israelites who spent 40 years in the desert.
“You have any idea how long 40 years is? So we can’t quarrel about 89 days,” the Archbishop said.
Drawing reference to the First Reading: Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14B-16A, the Archbishop reiterated the reason they spent 49 days in the desert: because God wanted to humble the people, to test them and to know their innermost hearts.
“And I want to believe that we spent our 89 days so that God could humble us, test us and know our innermost heart. And that’s the first piece that we understand from this incredible feast that we are celebrating. Because it says God humbled you to make you feel hungry and to feed you with manna which neither you nor your fathers knew….”
Quoting Exodus 16, the Archbishop outlined four things Moses said of the manna from Heaven: it was unexplainable/miraculous, the manna was not just bread—it was manna and flesh, the manna was holy and the manna lasted from the moment they entered into the desert and until they left the desert.
The Archbishop maintained that faithful ought to believe that Jesus is God and if He is God then we have to believe the Word He taught. If we believe the Word He taught, we have to believe that the Eucharist is what He told us it would be in the words of the Last Supper: ‘Take this all of you and eat because this is my body’.
“In the bread, in the flesh of Jesus Christ, we become Christ. We are His body and being His body, we are tied to each other in a way that we cannot be separated. That’s why racism is so terrible; that’s why prejudice is so terrible; that’s why disregarding the need of the poor is so terrible.…” he said.
Ultimately, to understand this mystery of the Eucharist is to understand there’s a call on our life to live and treat others in a particular way and to become “a certain kind” of community, society and civilisation.