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Solemnity of Corpus Christi


When people worship God, they make a fashion statement.  Look at the followers of Iglesia ni Kristo or Protestants who worship in formal dresses, barong or semi-formal attire. This is true for most of them, however poor they may be. Muslims also sport their best traditional costumes for their special feasts.  Now compare this with how most Catholics dress for Mass. There was a time when people looked “their Sunday best”.  When we saw a properly clothed person, we jokingly guessed that he was most probably on his way to church.  But today, Catholics appear in church in their most comfortable clothes – house clothes, street clothes, sports clothes. Not too long ago, the archdiocese issued guidelines for proper attire at Mass.

I have nothing against wearing comfortable outfit when we worship.  And I’m sure the Lord looks more into the heart when we pray. But the guidelines of Manila remind us that for many, the essence of worship is steadily getting lost.  When we cannot distinguish our attire for going to market, sports or the malls from that of worshipping and adoring God, something is truly amiss.

Today’s feast reminds us that something absolutely great is happening at Mass.  The Mass is the center of all our activities as Catholics because it is “the” encounter with the Lord himself.  We do not only come to listen to his Word, nor merely to learn about him.  We are not here to simply remember what he did. In the Eucharist, we meet him; we encounter the Lord in person!

Babies may be crying, young people scouting for new friends, old people gossiping and others, sleeping during the homily.  But it does not diminish the fact that God is here.  That is why we come.  And this is what we mean when we say that our liturgy is the celebration of the Body and Blood of Christ.  He is here forcefully in his Word –  challenging, inspiring, transforming us.

But He is most powerfully present in the most unlikely elements – in the bread and wine.  The greatest claim to a miracle happens in our church as we proclaim that the Lord transform ordinary bread and ordinary wine into His own Body and Blood. And this is anchored on His very words:  “This is my body.  This is my blood.”  Why do we do this every week? He also said:  “Do this in remembrance of me.”  That church that follows that command is the church that seriously adheres to the intentions of the Risen Lord. And this is what our church does.

That is why we need to prepare for this moment – it is an encounter!  God comes to us through something we can receive, touch and taste; something that will nourish us.  Are we serious in this encounter?  Does it show in how we dress for the occasion?  More than that, are we truly excited to meet him and to present ourselves to him?  Have we come to listen and pray, to sing and respond, to repent and receive new life in His Body and Blood?

And after the Mass, our lives should shine as proofs that something great happens at Mass, so great that it can make us better persons and change us, even gradually, so that we become to others a reflection of the love of Christ that we are now ready to live and to share.  Proper clothes are just the start of the deeper recognition that in the Eucharist, we truly encounter the Lord.