June (22) 23, 2019
The Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ
Sat 4:30pm; Sun 8 & 10am
Genesis 14:18-20; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Luke 9:11b-17
On this great Solemnity of Corpus Christi (The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ) we rejoice in the “true presence” of Jesus in the sacramental bread & wine and we rejoice in His presence in us as individuals and in the His Body which is the Church.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, “The Eucharist (consecrated bread & wine) is the source & summit of the Christian life.” It is the greatest blessing and the Sacrament of all sacraments because it is not only from God, it is God! It is Jesus truly present!
So if Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, the question is: are we present to Him? Meaning, when we come to mass do we fully realize the Gift of all gifts that is being offered to us? Do we focus on Christ who is in the host & the cup with all reverence and awe? Are our minds and hearts prepared to receive Him?
In the first reading from Genesis (the very 1st Book of the Bible) we see the foreshadow of the Eucharist. The priest of the Most High, Melchizedek, king of Salem blesses Abram (later Abraham) with bread & wine. The name Melchizedek means “king of justice” and Salem means “peace”. So this Melchizedek, “King of Justice” & “King of Peace” is a foreshadow of Jesus Christ who is the true “King of Justice” & the true “King of Peace”. Jesus, the High priest, blesses us with consecrated bread & wine at every mass.
In the second reading St. Paul gives us the earliest reference to the Last Supper on Holy Thursday night where the Eucharist was first instituted.
And in the Gospel the feeding of the 5,000 foreshadows the Eucharist and the mass where Jesus continues to feed the multitudes.
Did you notice that in all 3 of these readings there is a “giving”? Abram gives a tenth of all his blessings in thanksgiving…The disciples distribute the loaves & fish…And Jesus gives His own Body & Blood. *That’s because the Eucharist is “giving”! The Eucharist, the consecrated bread & wine at every mass, is the Body and Blood of Christ given for the sake of the other on the Cross of Calvary made present to us. The Eucharist at every mass is Jesus giving of Himself completely for the sake of the other again & again & again.
And as we receive Him in the host & the cup we come in “communion” with Him in His holiness. We are united with Him and we are called to live as He lives, as a gift of our lives for the sake of the other…There was a young Catholic couple who got married on a Saturday. And like good Catholics they attended mass the next morning. They were kneeling as usual during the Liturgy of the Eucharist and the priest in persona Christi prayed the words of Jesus as He raised the host, “This is my body which will be given up for you.” The young bride noticed her new husband crying. She asked him quietly, “What’s wrong?” (She wondered if he regretted marrying her!) He told her, “I have heard those words all of my life at mass (This is my body which will be given up for you). And I just realized what they mean…And those are the same words I said to you yesterday in our wedding vows.” This is what we are called to in Christian marriage but also what we are called to as Christians in general: to become one with Christ in the Eucharist and offer our lives as gifts for the sake of the other just like He did.
You see, when the priest raises the host, he breaks it symbolizing the broken body of Christ on the Cross for the sake of the other. By receiving Him and becoming one with Him we too are to be broken (in sacrificial love) for the other person. Just like the bread and wine are taken, blessed and shared, we too are taken (chosen by God), blessed in Baptism & Confirmation and shared for the sake of the world. That’s what is happening when we come forward and we receive Him in the host & the cup. Chosen, blessed and shared just like the sacramental bread & wine.
Yes Jesus gives of Himself completely in perfect love. St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “Jesus on the Cross showed us how much He loved us back then. Jesus in the Eucharist shows us how much He loves us today.” How can we possibly show our gratitude for this tremendous love? The word Eucharist in the Greek means “thanksgiving”. We show our gratitude by living a life of gratitude and by sharing of our blessings as Abram did in the first reading. But we might say I don’t have much…I don’t have much talent or much time or much treasure. Jesus is not asking us for the impossible. He is asking us to share a portion of what we do have in thanksgiving and then let Him do the impossible with it! Just like in the Gospel how He took those 5 loaves and 2 fish and multiplied them, He takes what we offer Him and multiplies it. And when we do share our blessings in gratitude we get blessed back even more! The miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 is Jesus’ powerful reminder that when we share our gifts in His name and in communion with Him there is always enough! People out there are hungry and thirsty. Jesus’ solution is the same today as it was 2,000 years ago. What He told the disciples back then He tells us today, “Give them some food yourselves.” You see a lot of times we look to the other person to provide, to share, to serve. But in communion with Christ, we are all called to continue the miracle of the feeding of the multitudes 1 person at a time with what He provides.
In closing, I quote St. Augustine on what he said of the Eucharist, “Become what you see & receive what you are.” “Become what you see” (Jesus truly present in sacrificial giving of self). “Receive what you are” (the Body of Christ). In the Eucharist is the real presence of Christ, it is the source and summit of our faith. It binds us together with Him and with each other. It fills us with His holiness. It transforms us into His likeness and makes us a living tabernacle. Again and again we are called to the Table with Jesus who desperately wants to nourish and strengthen us with food for the journey. It is the greatest blessing because it is not only from God, it is God! How blessed are we as Catholics. May we never, ever take it for granted!