Experiencing God’s Grace: The Mystery of the Holy Mass By Fr Shaun Lim

In the Gospel of John chapter 6, we hear how Jesus would feed the five thousand with five barley loavesand two fish. This miracle is also found in the synoptic gospels. But a detail unique to John’s Gospel (not found inthe other gospels) is that the offering of bread and fish was said to be contributed by a young boy. In other words,a child was involved in the Eucharist!

Later in the same chapter (vv22-59), Jesus would preach what would come to be known as the ‘Bread of Life’discourse in a synagogue in Capernaum. This is what Jesus said:

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (vv50-51)

This is indeed a very significant declaration for it shows us how essential the Eucharist is to our lives, to whichthe Catholic Church professes, “The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life.” (CCC1324) For itis through Christ present in the Eucharist that we are healed, restored, and pardoned.

Put another way, the Eucharist provides us with real food in the form of bread and wine, so that we mayexperience God’s grace in a very tangible way. But at the same time, and here lies the mystery of the Holy Mass, the Church teaches that: “…by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, the signs of breadand wine become, in a way surpassing understanding, the Body and Blood of Christ”. (CCC1333)

At the institution of the Sacrament of Eucharist, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave itto them, and said, ‘Take it; this is my body.’ Then He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and theyall drank from it. He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. (Mk 14:22-24)


This is why the ordained priest (the alter Christus) must take the bread, bless it, break it, and give it to all who arepresent at the Holy Mass, whether it is celebrated in church or in our schools, so that we may be in communionwith one Lord. And we must remember that the Holy Mass is an integral expression of the five marks of aCatholic school, which are:

1) Inspired by a Supernatural Vision; 2) Founded on a Christian Anthropology; 3) Animated byCommunion and Community; 4) Imbued with a Catholic Worldview; 5) Sustained by the Witness ofTeaching

For this article, I shall focus only on the 5th since it reminds us that as Catholic educators, we play a vital role inupholding the school’s Catholic identity. As Catholics, we are first called to discipleship, and our mission is topreach the Gospel, and to make Christ known to the world. Thus, as Catholic educators, teaching is not just aprofession, it is a call to mission. This also means that we must be acutely aware of the unique characteristics and functions of Catholic education: it is to provide a holistic education that forms the entire person (body,mind, and soul). That was also the intention of the early Catholic missionaries when they set up schools inSingapore; it was to provide good education, to plant the seed of faith, and to impart the Christian values to theyoung ones.

As Catholic educators, our Teacher is Christ himself; our guide to scheme of work is the Holy Spirit; the textbook is the Gospel, and our key performance indicator is to bring out the best in our students by loving them. So that, just like the young boy in John’s Gospel, our young people can play an active role in their own faith formation.Whatever they contribute, in the form of five barley loaves and two fish, will be multiplied infinitely bythe grace of God.

As we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi in the month of June, let us pray, and ask for God’s grace to enableus to be the best teachers to our students, not for our personal glory, but for the glory of God. Let uscontinue to draw strength from the source and summit of our Christian life, i.e. the Holy Eucharist. Thanks beto God. Amen.