he is present in the sacramental supper of this table
where we are nourished by the sacrifice he offered
on the altar of the Cross.
Christ, present, truly, in the bread and cup of the Eucharist…
But what do we mean when we say that?
Back in the 4th century, people asked the same question
and St. Augustine gave them this answer:
What you see is the bread and the chalice;
that is what your own eyes report to you.
But what your faith obliges you to accept is that
the bread is the Body of Christ
and the chalice the Blood of Christ...
How is the bread his Body?
And that which is in the chalice - how is it his Blood?
Those elements, brothers and sisters, are called sacraments,
because in them one thing is seen,
but another is understood.
What is seen is the corporeal species
but what is understood is the spiritual fruit...
You yourselves are the Body of Christ and his members.
If you are the Body of Christ and his members,
it is your own mystery that is presented
at the table of the Lord,
you receive your mystery.
To that which you are -- you answer: "Amen..."
For you hear: "The Body of Christ!" and you answer: "Amen!"
You hear: "The Blood of Christ!" and you answer: "Amen!"
Be a member of Christ's Body, then,
so that your "Amen" may be the truth.
In St. Augustine’s effort to help us understand the comfort that is ours
in believing that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist,
there comes also a challenge,
to believe not only that the bread and wine become
the body and blood of Christ,
but to believe also that, indeed, we are to become
what we eat and drink:
we are to become the true presence of Christ
breaking ourselves like bread to nourish our neighbor;
pouring ourselves out like wine in outreach to those in need.