CHRISTIFY Prayer & Reflection Guides
Christ transforms the whole world through his Body & Blood
II. OPENING PRAYER
(Adapted from The Liturgy of the Hours)
Lord Jesus Christ, You gave us the Eucharist to celebrate and make present in our world today Your suffering, dying, and rising. May every celebration of Your sacrifice help us to experience the salvation You have won for us. By partaking of the bread and wine transformed into Your Body and Blood, may our lives become like Yours – lived in fullness in self-giving love. Send us Your Spirit and transform our hearts, our minds, our wills – our whole selves. Use us that we may draw all people and all creation into Your kingdom where you live with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
III. LYRICS & SCRIPTURAL PASSAGE
(Scripture Passage – Jn 6:48-57)
[And Jesus answered them . . .] "I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me."
Music and Lyrics by Manoling V. Francisco, S.J.
Christify the gifts we bring to You,
bounty of the earth receive anew.
Take and bless the work of our hands.
Christify these gifts at Your command.
Sun and moon and earth and wind and rain:
all the world's contained in every grain.
All the toil and dreams of humankind,
all we are we bring as bread and wine.
Turn the bread and wine, our hearts implore,
to the living presence of the Lord.
Blessed and broken, shared with all in need;
all the hungers, sacred bread will feed.
With this bread and wine You Christify,
now our deepest thirst You satisfy.
We who by this bread You sanctify
draw the world for You to Christify.
Have you ever noticed that when a husband and wife love each other very much and live together lovingly for many years, they begin to look more and more like their spouse? Researchers have even found some explanation for this phenomenon: couples who spend a lot of time with one another eventually begin to share common mannerisms, expressions, and habits. According to the researchers, these mannerisms, expressions, and habits tend to work the same facial muscles of the couple, crease the same parts of their faces, and therefore create somewhat similar facial features. Whatever the explanation, we realize one thing from this phenomenon: the more we love someone, the more we become more and more like our beloved.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me." In this passage, Christ tells the Jews something rather radical. In an earlier verse, He compares Himself to manna, the bread from heaven that God gave his people on their journey through the desert (Ex 16:4-15). The Jews considered manna a great gift from God because it nourished them and brought them life as they crossed the arid desert to reach the Promised Land.
By revealing to the Jews that He was living bread, Jesus tells them that He too is God's most precious gift, sent to the world to bring eternal life to all who eat his flesh and drink his blood. He tells us that he has come "for the life of the world", that we might share in his own life and, if we believe in and love him, that we might become more and more like our Beloved! By becoming our living bread, Christ has revealed to us that our true worth does not lie in our self-centeredness, sinfulness, or pride but in our capacity to love and bring life to others like Christ. Our call, indeed, is to be taken, blessed, broken, and shared to others to feed the deepest hungers of the world.
The transformation that Christ's grace brings us is unique: it is Christ's Spirit that empowers this change and it is Christ's likeness into which we are conformed. The word "Christify" signifies the unique meaning of Christ's transforming power in the world. When sung during the Presentation of the Gifts, the song "Christify" expresses our joyful anticipation that the bread and wine we bring to the altar will become the life-giving Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. At the same time, the song expresses our hope to be transformed into Christ's likeness when we receive him during Communion and our hope to become as loving and courageous and compassionate as Christ. Lastly, it too expresses our desire that the transformation Christ brings us may bear fruit in the transformation of our society from one immersed in suffering, poverty, and division into one steeped in the fullness of life – a community marked instead by compassion, thirst for justice, and unity.
Pope Benedict XVI expressed the same truth about the Eucharist in Sacramentum Caritatis (11): "The substantial conversion of bread and wine into his body and blood introduces within creation the principle of a radical change, a sort of 'nuclear fission,' to use an image familiar with us today, which penetrates to the heart of all being, a change meant to set off a process which transforms reality, a process leading ultimately to the transfiguration of the entire world, to the point where God will be all in all . . ."
May Christ's transforming love, which we celebrate at every Mass, continue to shape and conform us into the likeness of Christ, our Beloved.
V. GUIDE QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
Has Christ been a transforming difference in my life? In what way has my faith in Christ made me more just, more loving, and more life-giving to those around me?
What areas in my life do I need to offer to Christ's healing and transforming grace?
What are the problems and conditions in our society or country that need to be transformed by Christ's transforming love? In what way can I be an instrument of Christ's love and justice in these areas of life as a community?
VI. CLOSING PRAYER
Lord Jesus Christ, Christify me today. Nourish me with Your Body and Blood. Fill me with Your own life that I may become more loving, more compassionate, more life-giving to those around me.
Lord Jesus Christ, living bread, Christify every corner of our country that we may live in the perfect gifts of the salvation you bring: the fullness of life, peace, and true freedom.
Lord Jesus Christ, we bring to you all that we are. Change us. Use us. Christify us.