SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST
Readings: Deut. 8: 2–3.14a–16a; 1 Cor. 10: 16–17; John 6: 51–58
The Holy Catholic Church celebrates the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ every day except on Good Friday but there are two principal days that the Eucharist’s specific focal points are highlighted. They are Holy Thursday evening when the institution of the Holy Eucharist is re-enacted and today Corpus Christi when we are to pay attention to the “Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.” This celebration is a very important one for us, as besides the Holy Trinity, the Doctrine of the Real and Holy Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist is one of the core tenets of our Christian faith. No wonder, the Second Vatican Council says that the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian Life” (LG 11).
About the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, there is this story of “A priest I heard of, if he sees people leave Mass early, (he) stops them and reminds them that only one person left the Last Supper early! Well, I am not going to do that, but I am tempted to do what St. Philip Neri did: He saw someone leaving Church right after Communion, and he sent servers with candles and bells to accompany the man. The guy stormed back into the Church and confronted the priest. “What kind of joke is this?” he demanded. St. Philip Neri said, “It’s no joke. The rules of the liturgy say the Blessed Sacrament should be treated with reverence. You left the Church immediately with no prayer of thanksgiving. You were carrying the Blessed Sacrament within you. So, I asked the boys to accompany you to honour Him.” — (Dear friends in Christ) After Communion you and I are tabernacles – the physical presence of Jesus continues in us for a brief time. That’s why we have the Communion hymn, a time of silence, the Communion Prayer – and even the announcements – to build up the Body of Christ in practical ways. I encourage you to use well the time after Communion to say thanks, to express your gratitude” (Fr. Phil Bloom).
From our readings, the first reading reveals how we are on a pilgrimage on earth, and we need nourishment to sustain our physical and spiritually hunger. As human persons we suffer from many kinds of hunger and it is a blessing to be hungry especially for righteousness: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matt. 5:6).
The psalmist calls us to glorify the Lord who has blessed us especially with His everlasting Real Presence. Others admire Jesus but Catholics possess Him through the Holy Eucharist. See Him enthroned for us in the tabernacle. Hmmm!
Jesus Christ satisfies the various forms of hunger in the Gospel as He offers various kinds of “bread” to people. To His followers in the desert who were starving, He provided ordinary bread. To lepers, He offered physical healing. To the Samaritan woman (John 4), He offered her kindness and acceptance. To Zacchaeus, salvation and to the thief who died at His side, He offered the bread of reconciliation with God. He nourishes us in very many ways and the height of His nourishment of us is the gift of His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity under the appearance of Bread and Wine. He does so to Christify us. The Fathers of the Church therefore would say, the Son of God became Man in order for us to become gods.
The second reading states the special effects of eating the Eucharist; it does not only feed our souls but we become one Body with Christ.
Dear friends in Christ, the Jews asked the question: Why they should eat the Body and drink the Blood of Christ? Jesus’s answer was: so that you may have life. The question of His Jewish followers was a question for meaning. The human person is a creature in search of meaning and he cannot do anything wholeheartedly if he finds no meaning in it.
Note, the Holy Eucharist is the embodiment of the entirety of Christ – BODY AND BLOOD, SOUL AND DIVINITY. The meaningfulness of life subsist in having a friendship with the author of life. When Jesus took human flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, God entered into the human form. His whole divine powers, love and mercy are contained in His Body. Hence the invitation of Jesus is to consume His whole Person (Human and Divine) which is incarnated in His Body. To eat something makes you one with that thing. Hence the proverbial saying “You are what you eat.” Whenever therefore we eat the Corpus Christi, we take into our being the fullness of life, power and Spirit of the incarnated Son of God. When we worship Him in adoration, we worship the Body of the saviour – Messiah, who is abundantly able to save us.
Dear brothers and sisters, as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, we need to be mindful of whom we receive, how we receive Him and how we ought to live as people who eat the food of God.
In making conscious efforts to prevent the spread of Coronavirus Pandemic, we have many rules regulating our reception of Holy Communion. As it is now, our human instinct of the fear of death, is causing many of us not to approach Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. As such many who were tired of Church life and spiritual activities have become very comfortable with “media Mass.” Let us pray that Jesus the Prince of peace may dispel fears in our lives and trust Him more because He is “a medicine of immortality, (and) an antidote to death” (St. Ignatius of Antioch).
Again, let us receive Christ with a clean heart. It is a sacrilege to receive Christ in mortal sin consciously and unconsciously. St. Paul reminds us: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died” (1Cor. 11:27-30).
Holy Communion by hand must be received with more mindfulness and carefulness. For some of us it has become a new fashion and a way to show-off. How about the pattern of receiving by hand? It is by stretching forward your two hands with your left palm resting on your right. More so, particles of the Holy Eucharist on your palm must be consumed reverently and not rubbed on your other palm or clothes or dispersed on the ground.
Also cultivate and practise the virtue of adoration of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. In ordinary sense, you do not give birth to a child and abandon him. In a supernatural sense, at Holy Mass we together welcome Christ and it will not be good to live Him alone. God loves the company of people and that is why He is a Trinity of Persons.
Let us pray as St. Thomas Aquinas did in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament: “O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, All Praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine.”