Mark 14:12-16. 22-26
“It is in the Eucharist that all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation” (LS 236).
The representation of the sacred is very present in the indigenous cosmovision, especially through symbols and elements of nature. An example of this can be found in the “Mayan Altar”, especially in Central America. This is usually prepared in front of the altar of the mass, with flowers and colored candles, according to the four directions of the universe, and with fruits of the earth. It is noteworthy that after the different prayers, directed according to the cardinal points, everyone goes to the center of the “Mayan Altar” and a prayer is raised to acclaim Jesus Christ, “heart of heaven and heart of the earth”, in whom the human and the divine, heaven and earth, center of Christian life and heart of the celebration are united (Cf. F. Arizmendi). Sometimes the “Mayan Altar” is also prepared for the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Thus, symbols and prayers, holistic expression of reality, are united to the Eucharistic presence of Jesus Christ. I wanted to share this experience, typical of my culture, because I consider that it clearly expresses the value of creation in the Eucharistic Mystery. We will reflect on this aspect in this space, within the framework of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ.
This Sunday’s Gospel presents us with the most precious gift that the Church can have in her journey through history: the Eucharistic Mystery (cf. Ex 9). Since that Last Supper, and throughout the centuries, in the humble sign of bread and wine, Jesus Christ our Lord continues to give the gift of himself, of his person, of his Body and Blood: “Take, this is my body… this is my blood” (Mk. 14:22-23). It is truly astonishing to consider that bread and wine, fruits of the earth and of human labor, were the elements chosen by our Lord to perpetuate his living presence among us. The encyclical Laudato Si’ expresses this exceptional truth: “The Lord, in the culmination of the mystery of the Incarnation, chose to reach our intimate depths through a fragment of matter. He comes not from above, but from within, he comes that we might find him in this world of ours.” (LS 236). And so it is, nothing more true and beautiful, to have Jesus Christ present under the appearances of bread and wine, and even more, eating him in the consecrated species. Without further explanation, Jesus Christ is really present in the Eucharist. “Do not see – Saint Cyril of Jerusalem exhorts – in the bread and wine merely natural elements, because the Lord has expressly said that they are his body and his blood: faith assures you of this, though your senses suggest otherwise” (EE 15).
Awareness of the real presence of Jesus Christ in the consecrated bread and wine only raises our thoughts and makes us ask ourselves: how can we not embrace creation in a different way? From our faith in the Eucharist we can not only appreciate the created world even more, but we can also, united with creation, give thanks to the one who created us. It can be said that this discovery in the Eucharist truly unites us with the whole cosmos in a single praise, because “Joined to the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos gives thanks to God” (LS 236). In the same way, the great Mystery of the real presence of Christ in the natural elements, in which Christ embraces and penetrates all creation, is a source of light and motivation for our concern for the environment (cf. LS 236). To conclude, I propose a simple exercise: when you participate in the Eucharist, be extremely conscious of the moment when the priest consecrates the bread and wine. You can also visit Jesus in the Eucharist in your parish, or in a church near you or on your way. In your Eucharistic visit be conscious of being united with the whole cosmos in praise of the Creator, and give thanks to Jesus Christ, who through the natural elements, has become your companion and your nourishment.
Prayer: “O Godhead hid, devoutly I adore Thee, Who truly art within the forms before me; To Thee my heart I bow with bended knee, As failing quite in contemplating Thee. Sight, touch, and taste in Thee are each deceived; The ear alone most safely is believed: I believe all the Son of God has spoken, Than truth’s own word there is no truer token. O living bread, to mortals life supplying! Make Thou my soul henceforth on Thee to live, Ever a taste of heavenly sweetness give.” (Adoro te devote. St. Thomas Aquinas).
Author: Gladys De la Cruz Castañón HCJC
Catechist Sister of Jesus Crucified.
She has a degree in Catechetics and is a candidate for a Doctorate in Catechetics at the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome.
She is a member of the Diocesan Delegation of Catechesis in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
Volunteer for the Global Catholic Climate Movement.