Do we still remember?

by May Tam
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)

Exodus 24:3-8

Hebrews 9:11-15

Mark 14:12-16, 22-26

Often we hear or say “let bygones be bygones”; the past is the past. However, this is very likely meant for things that are not too pleasant to remember; for who would not want to retain happy and good things in our memories. In fact, we are created with the ability to remember and personal memories form part of our being. As a people, we also have social memories. These shared communal memories bind together families, tribes or nations and shape human history as what happened in the past, through memories, affect the present and influence the future.

The celebration of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi is basically the celebration of the anamnesis of Jesus' Last Supper, a past event that Christians would want to remember. The background of the institution of the Body and Blood of Christ (Eucharist) is the Passover Meal, which is another past event that the Jews would want to remember. The Pasch (Jewish feast of the Passover) itself is not just a memorial of a historical incident but a commandment of God to commemorate the story of how He liberated the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt (rf Ex 12:14, 13:8). This remembrance of the incident is to remind the Israelites of the covenant God made with them that they are His chosen people (First Reading). Like the Passover Meal, the celebration of the Holy Eucharist is not simply a memorial to recollect the past. It is a commandment of Jesus to His disciples to re-enact and thus recall what He has done before His death (rf Lk 22:19, 1 Cor 11:24)). It reminds them, and us, of the new covenant that He had made with His own body and blood (rf Mt 26:28, Mk 14:24).

No doubt, both the Paschal and Jesus' self-sacrificial meals occurred at specific times in the world history, yet what Jesus did has an everlasting effect that transcends time and space. Not only has He risen but also He is now alive in the living, collective memory of His people - the Church. He is, therefore, made present every time when Christians gather to celebrate the Eucharist. When we partake of His body and blood, we are not only reminded of the historical supper, but also receive them now as nourishment for our spiritual life and at the same time, we are assured of the hope of the “promised eternal inheritance” (Heb 9:15) until He comes again in glory (rf 1 Cor 11:26).

Each time, in the breaking of the bread and the pouring of the wine, we are being brought back to that moment when our Lord offered Himself for us. Besides receiving His Body and Blood, we also receive His blessings and love; a love of a dying person for his beloved. Dear friends, when we participate in the sacrament of the Eucharist, do we remember the Lord's Last Supper? Do we celebrate His real presence in the bread and wine? Do we believe His unimaginable love for us?

“We remember how you loved us to your death,
and still we celebrate, for you are with us here;
And we believe that we will see you when you come,
in your glory, Lord, we remember, we celebrate, we believe.”

(from song We Remember by Marty Haugen)