ENGLISH VERSION - Bulletin Nº 37 June 06, 2021
what does corpus christi mean?
by Rev. Renato Souza Prates
This last weekend was the Corpus Christi holiday in Brazil. A lot of people took the time to rest from work activities, which is very good! However, we do not always ask ourselves about the meaning of such a holiday. After all, what does Corpus Christi mean?
The expression Corpus Christi is Latin and literally means "Body of Christ". Within Roman Catholic theology, after the elements of wafer and wine are consecrated, they become the body of Christ. This transformation is called “transubstantiation”. This celebration began in 1264, in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, by Pope Urban IV, becoming then, one of the most important events of this calendar, for celebrating the Eucharist, a word also of Latin origin that means “thanksgiving”.
In Brazil, the tradition of celebrating the date arrived with the Portuguese, represented by the activity of producing carpets from products such as sawdust, coffee grounds and sand. They are ornate carpets with biblical designs, which allude to the body, bread and chalice, wine. On the date, always a Thursday, faithful gather for a procession that follows the monstrance - a piece that stores the Body of Christ in the host - which is carried by the priest on the carpets.
Although it is a national holiday, Protestants do not celebrate Corpus Christi, basically for defending two theologies of the Lord's Supper: the consubstantiation or spiritual presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Consubstantiation, as Martin Luther argued, means the real presence of Christ during the ministry of the elements, not in the elements themselves, being transformed in his body, but in his real presence among his people, which is the church, during the ministry of Holy Communion. The problem of consubstantiation is that if Jesus Christ, in person, manifests himself during every Holy Supper ministered in the world, then we no longer need to wait for his coming to search for his church, because he comes at every moment of communion or action of thanks, through the sacrament.
The real presence of Christ through his Spirit was defended by John Calvin and reformed theology, starting in Geneva. Here is a point of disagreement between Calvinist and Lutheran doctrine, up to the present day. For Calvin, the presence of Christ is represented by the person of the Holy Spirit during the ministry of the sacrament, which makes more sense, according to biblical texts like John 14, where Jesus promises the Comforter, after his ascension into heaven, to be at the right hand of God the Father, from where he waits for the right time to seek his people - His second coming!
Basically, for the two reasons above, evangelicals or Protestants in general do not celebrate the Corpus Christi holiday, in Brazil or in the world, since the fundamental belief of the holiday is transubstantiation. For us, the elements of Holy Communion do not become the body of Christ, since he was alive when he declared: "This is my body ..." and "this is the blood of the new covenant ...", carrying the elements mystical and symbolic, not literal. The symbolic interpretation of the elements becomes even more evident, when Christ declares: "Do this in remembrance of me ...". In other words, if Christ was in fact physically present at every Holy Supper we celebrate, we would not need to remember him or his sacrifice.
We just need to recall the people or acts that were left in the past. In the case of Christ, his message makes us look at his sacrifice and remember his implacable death in our place, but we must also look ahead, awaiting his return, as his Word itself declared: “Because, whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you announce the death of the Lord, until He comes! ” (1 Cor 11.26)
On Sundays, we bring high quality messages from other sources. The prophet Jeremiah withstood significant abuse—and yet, through the grace of God, he never allowed his suffering to breed bitterness. Today, R.C. Sproul examines the life of this man whose heart was overflowing with godly compassion.
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