Fr. Greer: The Eucharist transforms us
“You are what you eat” – physically and spiritually – Fr. Gabriel Greer told those taking part in the closing of a Corpus Christi Novena Sunday, June 19, at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Wichita.
“We must take the world into our bodies and transform it into ourselves, – into flesh and blood,” he said, adding later that “Christ left us this memorial, this food from heaven so that by what we eat we might be transformed into Christ – deified.”
Father Greer, director of the Office of Worship and chair of the Year of the Eucharist, explained in his homily that God gave Adam and Eve everything they needed and asked only that they not eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
A great chasm was formed
The food with which they sinned, the fruit of that tree, wasn’t necessary for our first parents to survive,” he said. “So when they ate it, a great chasm was created between man and God.”
Instead of making them like God, Fr. Greer said, disobeying God made man turn in on himself. “Adam and Eve no longer offered themselves in love to God, man became selfish, only loving themselves.”
Mankind, homo sapiens, is more than just what he eats, he is first of all “homo adorans,” he said, quoting theologian Alexander Schmemann, who wrote about humans as priests at the center of the cosmos.
We are called to make an offering
“This very basic definition constitutes what we are first by our nature. We are priests, priests who are called to make of an offering to God of everything we have received. We are liturgical beings,” he said.
Our definition of liturgy must be broadened if we are to understand that we are homo adorans, Fr. Greer said. “We should understand liturgy as the eternal love exchange between the Persons of the Trinity, being poured out onto us so that we might participate in the love of the Trinity. Liturgy is the love of God poured out onto us so that we might be drawn back to him.”
Corpus Christi a memorial
The day’s liturgical ritual, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi – the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ – is a memorial that helps the faithful to be transformed into Christ.
“By receiving the Eucharist, the self-emptying gift of the Son, we are brought back into the eternal love of the Trinity,” Fr. Greer said. “The Eucharist becomes the means by which we are brought to life.”
‘Unless you eat my flesh…’
He reminded those attending that at the Last Supper Jesus said: “‘Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you do not have life within you.’ Life only becomes meaningful, life only becomes fruitful when we worthily consume the Eucharist. For through it we become what we eat. Each Sunday we are nourished so that we might step back into the world and live life the way it was meant to be from the beginning.”
Fr. Greer then talked about the day’s readings, about how Jesus multiplied the five loaves and two fish, how Melchizedek goes to Abraham, offers bread and wine as an act of worship to God, and how Abraham gives God one-tenth of what he has as an act of worship.
“The feast of Corpus Christi seems to be very fitting at this time of year. Especially for us as we harvest wheat. This wheat, these tiny grains, some of which will be offered to become the Body Blood Soul, and Divinity of Christ. Christ left us this very basic element, for through the Eucharistic mystery we become what we eat, we are transformed into Christ each time we receive the Eucharist worthily.”
Be like Abraham
Our response should be the same as Abraham, he said, “to give back to God what we have been given as an act of worship.”
Fr. Greer said life is a procession from Sunday to Sunday, a day we step out of time during Mass into the heavenly liturgy “so that we might be strengthened and renewed to process back into the world to live the liturgy of the world, the world being lived in the way it was meant to be lived in the Garden.”
In our life’s procession from Sunday to Sunday, he said, “recognizes that God pours his life into us so that as we live in the world we might participate in the divine life of the Trinity.”
Fr. Greer, assisted by Fr. Matt Siegman, Fr. Jacob Carlin, and several parishioners then processed out of the church carrying a monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament. Accompanied by the choir, those attending sang Eucharistic songs as the Eucharist was carried around the north side of the parish property to a temporary altar on the school’s baseball field. After a blessing, the Eucharist was carried on a sidewalk next to Douglas Avenue back into the church for a final blessing.