The Feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ, is a moment to concentrate on memory and identity in our lives as Christians and in ourjourney of faith.
Memory is important. We often hear, rightly, that it is important to be free of the past so as to live the present with attentive care. Yet to remember is to respect the past as a teacher and a friend, from whom there is much to learn. Memory can be the seed-bed of hope and the formulator of new dreams. We remember as individuals and as communities – memory is more than recollection of facts but a bringing to mind of who we are because of who we were. To remember is to be brave with the past and to seek to hold the past as a cherished friend that sheds light on the present and the future.
In celebrating the Eucharist, we remember who we are as a Christian people, guided by the light of God’s goodness on a way that is often difficult and where we have often made mistakes and taken wrong paths. Yet these become part of who we are also – a people who have been taken, broken, shared and offered. We remember the great gift of himself that Christ made on his last night
on earth. We remember those who gifted themselves to us in the journey of our lives. We remember how we become gifts to others and to the world.
Yet there is more also. In celebrating the Mass we remember who we are. We discover our own identity as children of a God who loves us and who calls us into life. One modern writer has often said that the Mass is where we catch the Christian community “being what they are.” A few years ago, at a Eucharistic congress in Italy, the (later to be martyred) Iraqi Priest Fr. Ragheed Ganni spoke of the importance of the Eucharist for the Christians of Iraq. When it was too dangerous to meet during the day, they came at night. When it was too dangerous to meet in
Churches, they moved into the basements. He said that he remembered what was told of the Irish people during the Penal days during all this. Why did they do it? It was simple. The terrorists threatened to take life, but from Christ in the Eucharist, they received life. They nurtured who they were and they overcame the fears and the sorrows of what took away life.
Each time we gather as a community to celebrate the Eucharist, we remember and we become that which we are called to be. This is
not some old theatre, nor a mere gathering for the sake of prayer, but the greatest moment of memory and identity. That is what we