Transubstantiation is a theological jargon used to describe the change of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. It first appeared sometime in the 12th century. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor, in an ambitious attempt to explain the change that takes place, demonstrated elaborately the Doctrine of Transubstantiation, in his masterpiece Summa Theologiae. He brilliantly illustrated and expounded, if I’m not mistaken in Question 75, that the real presence of the body and blood of Christ under the appearances of bread and wine is not similar to a physical location. Well, it was a kind of language and reasoning dating back to the time of the renowned Philosopher Aristotle who apparently distinguished such terms as substance, accidents and appearances. To say the least, to understand it in a purely materialistic fashion in a method employed by empirical science may be misleading to a 21st century audience. It is real and sacramental but not physical. It’s definitely not within the realm of chemistry and physics in the strictest sense of the word since the elements of bread and wine remain unchanged. This is hardly plausible to modern believers and highly demands the expertise of a Scholar to mediate by interpreting a distant past and yet storied culture of the Greeks and the Middle Ages. We hope that as we wrestle with the teaching of the real presence, we may be defined by the experience of this profound miracle.
Few months ago, Sister Rose, in a gentle and lovely manner, made a motherly remark on my hairdo saying, Fr. Jojo, I don’t know what’s going on with you but you seem to be a teenager searching for identity in letting your hair grow and cover your face. It was short and neat when you first got here and you looked so cute. Thanks Sister, I had no clue. Early this week, I decided to say goodbye to it, not in hopes of making the front cover or the center fold of GQ. As soon as Fr. Madhu saw me with a new look, he surprisingly reacted, oh Jojo, you look awful. Sorry to say but it doesn’t look good on you. When I walked in the hallowed halls of the parish office, someone gushed out, holy cow! A walk-in parishioner whose name I can’t remember spoke with a pleasant smile, nice haircut, you look younger, better and hey, what a make over! That wasn’t transubstantiation. Over all, whether it is to my advantage or not, it feels great and cool on a three digit summer heat.
As I bring this homily into conclusion, let me once again ask, what does it mean to receive Christ in Holy Communion? Whenever we leave our seats and join the line, we mean business. It represents our absolute commitment to Christ, to the Church, to the members of the parish community in which we’re locally connected and to the Universal Church, at large. We pledge to suspend our opinion, refrain from focusing too much on self and live vigorously the ideals of love and care, respect, reverence and honor as much as God does want. Amen.