2013
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The Body and Blood of Christ, given to transform us

“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” 1 Cor 11:26.

For the faithful present in the Holy Sepulcher today (Thursday, May 30) these words, from the second reading of the Mass, took on particular intensity. They resonate here even more than they could at the site of the institution of the Eucharist because here they take on the entire mystery of the Passion of Christ Jesus.

The Franciscans, celebrating the solemnity of Corpus Christi in front of the mpty tomb, understand this full well. There, where on Easter they proclaim the victory of Christ over death; there, where knees bend in front of the empty tomb; there, where the real Absence of Christ announces new life; there in that very place they celebrate the joy of the real and enduring Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

To all the pilgrims who are unsettled by the Basilica, all those who, fascinated by the desert and seduced by the Galilee and its countryside, are disappointed not to see with their own eyes here in Jerusalem the garden of the resurrection, the celebration of the Eucharist (all Eucharistic celebrations) in the Holy Sepulcher offer the opportunity to experience radical change.

Monsignor Shomali, who presided over the celebration, recalled in his homily the parallelism of Benedict XVI in comparing the Eucharistic gift to nuclear fission. (Text of the homily of Benedict the XVI, Cologne 2005)

The Sacrament of the Eucharist that we celebrate today transforms the death and violence of the Passion of Christ into an act of love, a source of energy. It is a force that is given to us in order to love others. It should transform our lives and make us into communities filled with energy. Celebrating and receiving the Eucharist should manifest itself in our lives and deeply transform us.

The prolongation of the Eucharist, continued Monsignor Shomali, is Eucharistic adoration. Pope Francis will preside over Eucharistic adoration next Sunday, June 2, and he is asking all the Christians of the world to unite themselves with him. In Jerusalem, parishes and communities will host times of adoration in union with the pope from 6:00 to 7:00 PM local time (5:00-6:00 PM Rome time) placing Syria at the heart of their intercession, as Monsignor Shomali expressly requested.

Today’s celebration ended in the Holy Sepulcher with the procession of the Blessed Sacrament around the empty tomb followed by Benediction.

It began the night before at First Vespers with Monsignor Shomali presiding, followed by the daily procession. While the representative of the patriarch returned to the patriarchate, unusually escorted only by the kawas and the President (superior) Guardian of the Holy Sepulcher, the Franciscans remained in the Basilica to sing the office of Compline in front of the Aedicule, with the Custodial Vicar, Fra Artemio Vitores, presiding. This is the only time of the year, since the liturgical reform at the Holy Sepulcher, that Compline is celebrated in this way before the empty tomb.

The Friars returned there at half past midnight for the Office of Readings of the feast, this time with the Custos of the Holy Land presiding.

The feast of Corpus Christi is celebrated with great solemnity, permitting the faithful to take time to celebrate the mystery of the Eucharist in the light of the resurrection, while on Holy Thursday the celebration of the same mystery is dominated by the accents of the passion.

Today, therefore, was another opportunity for Monsignor Shomali to present his best wishes to the priests who this year will celebrate a Jubilee of ordination. The Custody of the Holy Land joins in these congratulations, as well as wishing everyone a wonderful feast day.

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