We are reminded in the first book of the Bible, Genesis - that our first parents were in intimate union with God. To illustrate his presence, the Bible speaks of God “walking” in the Garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve. Before they sinned, they enjoyed intimate and personal union with God on the same level as the angels of heaven. Like the angels, they “feed” off the presence of God before them. They were in Holy Communion with God.
But when our first parents sinned, their union with God was disrupted. Without intimate union with God, death became inevitable. The lush and beautiful garden which blossomed with life that they had enjoyed, was now replaced by a desert landscape, sand instead of soil - a scorching wind instead of a cool breeze, famine instead of a harvest. Without communion with God we see the ultimate death of all creation. Instead of living, we simply survive- tested by the elements.
But God did not leave us abandoned. As he had in the past walked with Adam and Eve in the garden, God would find a way to walk with us again, to invite us into Communion with him. At an appointed time, God “planted” himself in this creation. How? When he became “enfleshed”, born as the baby of Bethlehem and grew up among us as Jesus Christ.
The multitudes who listened to his voice reached out to touch him, to draw from his body his divine power. The miracles of Jesus demonstrated that God’s creation was now on the mend, being repaired by him. But after his crucifixion on the cross and his burial, his disciples thought, even nature believed, the presence of God in their midst was extinguished, blown out like a candle. Even the sun turned black and the earth quaked. Without perfect union with God, nature herself panics.
But the resurrection of Christ from death to life changes everything. It reverses the pattern of nature’s decay. Christ’s risen and glorious Body, which can no longer die, becomes the divine substance into which all creation itself will, by God’s power, ultimately be changed into. This divine substance of eternal life is the resurrected and heavenly Body and Blood of Christ. Through this sacrament, Christ is able to take hold of our bodies and draw us into his, infusing our earthly body and blood with his resurrected body and blood - a transfusion of divine life. How does Christ do this?
At the Last Supper Christ took bread and wine - elements of the old creation. By identifying them with his body and blood, in that moment of the Last Supper he, in a way, brought these elements of natural nourishment into his eternal sacrifice of the cross. By doing so, as the natural body of Christ in his resurrection is changed into his supernatural body, (no longer confined to the laws of the old order of creation,) through the Sacrament of the Mass, the bread and wine also complete this journey from death to life. They are likewise changed, in a way evolve. They are transubstantiated, as all creation itself will one day be changed, into the substance of the resurrected Christ.
Jesus Christ draws us into his divine body and blood right before our eyes! But what type of eyes do be have – what type of senses do we use? Our eyes are the eyes of this world, still attached to the effects of sin. As such we cannot look directly into the very presence of the risen, heavenly and glorified Jesus.
From this side of heaven we can only see shapes, objects and colors. We are prevented from seeing what the bread will be changed into. But when they are changed, we adore and worship, not bread and wine, but Jesus Christ, substantially with us. We long to see him, as we hope we will one day, face to face, when we are purified from our attachment to this world.
It is therefore important that we try to disciple our natural senses, to train them in preparation for the vision of God.
The bread and wine placed on the altar, by the power of the Holy Spirit and the words of Christ spoken of them at this Last Supper, will be changed into the substance of Christ Risen and Glorious. The Sacred Host and the Chalice will be raised up for us to allow us to worship the invisible but heavenly Christ who can not be confined to the small dimensions of this world. The bell will ring, to alert us to, not what is before us, but who is before us. Through this miracle, not of the transformation, but of the change of substance of the bread and wine into the substance of his heavenly Body, Christ the Lamb of God stands before us, surrounded by all the angels and saints of heaven. So, even to partake of even the smallest fragment of what we, on this side of heaven, would identify as a crumb, would be to partake of the wholeness of Christ himself, his body, his blood, his soul and divinity.
Towards the close of Mass today, a Sacred Host will be encased and secured behind glass and placed upon the altar. This will allow us to focus our eyes of faith upon the heavenly Body of Christ who can not be confined to the dimensions or laws of this world. We place ourselves at the threshold of heaven to offer prayer and adoration to Christ along with all the angels and saints. We are joined by the Blessed Virgin who gave to her divine Son the body and blood which would be given to us all for the salvation of the world.
(Today [at the 8:30 am Mass] we will carry the Blessed Sacrament through the church and outside through the piazza to an altar set up with the backdrop of trees and flowers. In a way, this will remind us that God once again walks in the garden with us. In our procession we will allow Christ the Good Shepherd to lead us as a Shepherd leads his flock. By venturing outside, the heavenly Jesus Christ will walk through our world; we invite him also to walk through our streets and neighborhoods as real as he did two thousand years ago. He promised to be with us always, until the end of time. God still visits his people.)
Through the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, the Holy Mass, God not only begins the restoration of the elements of creation, but heaven is once again united to earth and the substance of God’s presence. This substance is the heavenly body and blood of Christ, worthy of adoration and worship - the anecdote to death and the medicine of immortality.