On Friday we began a new month, June, often associated with the end of the school year, the beginning of summer vacations for some and the movement into summer. In the church we celebrate the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ today, remembering what Jesus gave the disciples and apostles at the Last Supper. Giving them the gift of himself and three commands: “Take and eat, take and drink, and do this in memory of me.” Since the revision of the liturgy following the Second Vatican Council in the 1960’s we returned to the possibility of sharing communion under both forms, host and cup.
It is part of the Passover celebration, or seder meal, out of which the Eucharist emerged, to eat and drink. For many people what is a good meal without wine, the fruit of the earth, made by human hands. Some meals without wine are incomplete, like a good pasta dinner without red wine, or a special chicken dish with an aromatic chardonnay. Some meals call out for celebration, the fermented beverage that brings joy and hope can enhance the conversation around the meal. Notwithstanding abuse of alcoholic beverages and those who must be careful, Jesus was clear and direct, “Take and eat, take and drink.” Of course, within the liturgy, within Mass we only take a sip of the consecrated wine, but how come we are willing to obey his first command, take and eat, and disregard the second to drink his blood? Maybe people don’t intend to defy his command to take and drink, but somehow we don’t take seriously the importance of this command at the Last Supper. However, the church does expect us to use common sense and not partake of the cup if we are sick, or have a sore throat, but it has been proven that drinking from the cup does not pass on viral germs any more than other contact with people. We pass on more germs through shaking hands than taking from the common cup.
If one is experiencing ill health, every communicant should at least acknowledge the cup by allowing the Eucharistic Minister to present the cup and say “The Blood of Christ” and then simply say Amen; then return to your place. For those who don’t regularly receive from the cup, please reflect on how you may show honor and respect to the cup, the Blood of Christ and not simply walk by after receiving the host, the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ.
Jesus offered us His very life, nourishment for the journey, how can we accept that gift every time we come to the table of the Lord and not partake of the cup? He said, “Take and eat, take and drink, do this in memory of me.”
Blessings, Father Larry Hendel, Pastor