Celebrating the Body and Blood of Christ as “Stewards of the Gospel”

This weekend, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, or Corpus Christi, to celebrate the gift of the Eucharist.

Of course, the best way to celebrate it is to live it, to put the Eucharist into action. None of us can be a mere spectator to the Eucharist, for this offering to God of bread and wine is really our offering to him of ourselves, of our lives and of the whole world. Jesus taught us this connectedness when he enjoined us to go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel (see Mark 16:15).

The Eucharist invites us to be “stewards of the gospel;” to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and to love others just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.

This is the meaning behind the language of blood sacrifice of which we will hear proclaimed in the weekend’s readings. Blood is fundamentally life. The commitment to share in a common life, the covenant between God and Israel, was endorsed in blood, lots of it.

Sacrifice was, and is necessary. But how does the celebration of the Eucharist relate concretely to our ordinary day-to-day lives? At one level, the practice of going to Mass affirms our belief that there is something extraordinary in our ordinary, daily lives. We take time to acknowledge to ourselves, our families and our communities that we are engaged in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. More deeply, however, is that the Eucharist transforms us. It provides a center of our being and a driving force that impels us to go out and “be” Christ to a broken world.

We are nourished and strengthened in a profound way in order to build up the Body of Christ and carry out Jesus’ command to be missionary disciples.

The theme for the 56th annual conference of the International Catholic Stewardship Council, to be held in Nashville, Tennessee, October 28 to 31, is Missionary Disciples: Stewards of the Gospel, in response to the United States bishops’ call to form ourselves, and others, as missionary disciples. This conference will give us a wonderful opportunity to learn more about putting the Eucharist into action and to become “doers” of God’s Word through missionary discipleship, as individual Catholics, and as local Catholic communities of faith. The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ reminds us that we are each called to serve, uniquely equipped with gifts for missionary discipleship, and sent forth to carry the good news of the gospel to all we meet wherever we go. And we are never alone in this journey of faith. Christ is with us in a real and most personal way.