Today’s feast is set aside for us to honour Christ’s presence in the Sacrament of the Eucharist and remind us how central this is to our faith.
In our first reading from Deuteronomy Moses reminded the people that through their long years of wandering through the desert that they had to rely on God’s provision of water from the rock and manna sent down from heaven. They had come to know the Lord as the giver of all that was necessary for food and life.
In today’s Gospel Jesus refers to himself as the true Bread of heaven. The manna of the Old Testament only sustained the people for a short time where this ‘bread from heaven’ will sustain us for eternal life. For anyone who eats this bread will live forever. By this food the Eucharist draws us into communion with the Risen Christ and with all who partake of this divine sustenance.
On this Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ I want to conclude the Record with a few paragraphs from Cardinal Nichols homily at our Cathedral Golden Jubilee Mass as a reflection for this Solemnity. He had shared some of his memories of the significant events, that he witnessed here as a priest of the Archdiocese and then referred to the celebration of the Eucharist as a memorial “For us, however, the word memory has a far deeper and more remarkable meaning. Here, in this Cathedral as in every Catholic Church, we not only remember, but we make real again. Our ‘remembering’ of the person of Jesus, makes him present to us in his words and actions, in a real and vivid way.
At the focal point of every church, seen so vividly as in this cathedral, lies the altar, the place at which the sacrifice of Christ in his death on the Cross is not only remembered but made again a living reality. Here we gather at the foot of that Cross. Here we receive again its fruits: the Father’s mercy, our forgiveness.
At the end of this Mass, as at every Mass, we will be sent out to fulfil the task given to us by the Lord. Today as you leave, glancing back towards this great Cathedral, please remember that it is built on the site of the Liverpool Workhouse, which stood here from 1771 to 1928. In 1900, for example, over 4,000 poor people were housed on this site, in conditions which were very harsh, even if not quite punitive. Remember, too, that Catholic priests were often refused entry and could not fulfil their ministry to the poorest of their people. These foundations can serve to remind us that our first mission is to those who today are poor and forgotten, who are on the margins, the very ones who are indeed the most beloved of Christ our King. In fulfilling this mission no obstacle, misunderstanding or hostility should ever deflect us from our purpose.’
Canon Anthony O’Brien