June 18, 2017
Sun 8 & 10am
Deut 8:2-3, 14b-16a; 1 Cor 10:16-17; John 6:51-58
Today is one of the most important feasts in the Church, The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). The Church teaches that the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life” because it is the true presence of Christ Himself in the transformed bread and wine.
We see a foreshadow of the Eucharist in our 1st reading from Deuteronomy from the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures). The people of Israel, after many years of wandering in the desert are about to cross over into the Promised Land. Moses gives them his final instructions and he reminds them of how God had provided for them by sending down manna from heaven to feed them and nourish them for the journey. God provided for His people a daily bread that would sustain them in the difficulties of life.
And God continues to provide for His people today by sending the Living Bread from heaven for us at every mass: to sustain us, to feed us, to strengthen us. At every mass the priest who stands at the altar in Persona Christi, in the person of Christ, prays over the bread and wine and the Holy Spirit comes down and transforms that bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. *But the question is “Do we truly believe that?” Do we believe with our whole heart without a doubt that that little wafer and that wine changes into Christ? St. Paul in the 2nd reading asks the Church at Corinth and he asks us today, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” What is our answer? The sad thing is that it is estimated that up to 75% of Catholics today do not believe it. 75%! That is a tragedy!
The crowds in the Gospel did not believe Jesus when He said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” The scripture said they quarreled among themselves saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” In other words they were saying this guy is CRAZY! But did Jesus back down and say, “I’m just kidding, I didn’t really mean it.” No He did not! On the contrary, He repeated Himself 5 times to make His point and each time He said “eat my flesh and drink my blood” He intensified it. The first time He said eat, in the original language, it was (1) consume, then it was (2) dine, then it was (3) feast, then it was (4) eat, and finally it was (5) gnaw and chew. Each of the 5 times He used stronger language to get His point across that the Eucharist truly is His Body and His Blood.
If we truly believe that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ then that changes everything! Instead of dreading to come to mass, you look forward to it, you can’t wait. Instead of thinking of mass as an obligation you think of it as a privilege. It becomes your top priority. You even try to go to mass during the week whenever you can because you know and you are convinced that you will be receiving Christ Himself in the Eucharist. You will want to attend mass as much as possible because you know you will encounter in a personal way the one true God. If you truly believe it is Christ Jesus in the Eucharist you will spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament in adoration whenever you can. *(Friday nights, date night, recently 30 minutes before the Blessed Sacrament for special intentions, Georgiana’s idea, transforming as a couple & individuals).
The Eucharistic table is a meal that nourishes us and sustains us spiritually just like earthly food nourishes us and sustains us physically. We have to eat earthly food to fuel our bodies right? I drive my wife crazy sometimes when we plan a trip or even plan to go places even for the day. I’ll say, “Ok, but when are we going to eat?” She’ll say, “Do you have to plan everything around food?” I’ll be like “uh yeah!” Earthly food nourishes our physical bodies but heavenly food, the Eucharistic bread and wine nourishes us spiritually for the journey of life. It is food for our souls. It gives us strength to stay on that narrow path and strength to serve as we are called. And it makes us one with Christ. When we receive Holy Communion we are one-with or in-union with Christ. When we receive Him in the Eucharist with faith we become one with Jesus, with His very person. And with Him within us we can do great things! *Phillip Rivers said at a men’s talk once, “I go to mass every Sunday before the game and I feel that because I received the Eucharist, I feel like I have an advantage, I have something extra.” With Jesus within us through the Eucharist we have the power we need. We have something extra, we have an advantage over those in the world who do not believe He is the Eucharistic bread and wine. With Him in us we can do all things!
And the Eucharistic meal brings us in communion with our brothers and sisters in Christ, the entire Body of Christ, which is the Church. St. Paul said in the 2nd reading, “Because the loaf of bread is one, we though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.” When we receive the Eucharist in faith we become one with our fellow Catholics in this community and all over the world. When we have a meal together with family or friends that meal binds us together right? Even more than does the meal around the Eucharistic table bind us spiritually together with our fellow believers. Just as the bread and wine are transformed into Christ, we His disciples are transformed into His Body. We become a transformed people ready and willing to live out the mission given to us by the Head of the Body, Jesus Christ. And because we are one body we care for the entire body that we are a part of.
Jesus continues to give of Himself over and over in the Eucharist at every mass all over the world for the sake of the other. When we receive Him we should become like Him. We are what we eat as they say. By receiving Him we should also give of ourselves for the sake of the other over and over by the sharing of our time, our talent and our treasure in Stewardship as a way of life. Not just once but continually like Jesus gives Himself to us over and over.
In closing, the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christin life” because it is the true presence of Christ Himself. It is His Body and Blood He gave on Calvary made present to us at every mass. It is the Living Bread that comes down from heaven to feed us and strengthen us for the journey to eternal life. If we truly believe this let us stay hungry and thirsty for Him, receive Him in faith and in reverence, let us be transformed into the tabernacle of Christ and let us take Him out to a starving and thirsty world. With Him we can do all things we are called to do!