Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood, June 23
May the Spiritual Nourishment of Jesus’ Most Precious Body and Blood Sustain Us and Give Us the Strength Needed in Our Daily Journey Through Life.
We read in today’s Gospel the account of the miraculous feeding of five thousand men, not counting women and children, with only five loaves of bread and two fish. And Scripture tells us, “They all ate and were satisfied.”
I remember writing about this several months ago in one of the daily meditations, but the story is so relevant to today’s Scriptures, that I would like to repeat it –
Many years ago, Pope St. John Paul II visited Lima, Peru. He was met by a crowd of some two million people. There were two representatives from this massive crowd who walked up to the microphone to speak to our late Holy Father.
As the huge crowd went quiet, to the point of hearing a pin drop, they said, “Holy Father, we are hungry, we are sick, we lack work, our children die before their time. Yet we believe, Holy Father, we believe in the God of life. And we hunger for bread.”
Before a hushed crowd, the pope responded in his best Spanish, “You tell me you hunger for bread?” “Yes, yes!” the millions yelled in reply. “You tell me you hunger for God?” said the pope, and again the crowd swelled with an emphatic “Yes! Yes!” John Paul responded, “I want this hunger for God to remain; I want your hunger for the Living Bread to be satisfied.”
“We hunger for bread” – This is what the faithful millions cried out and said to the Great John Paul when he was in Peru. Yet, in our world today, there are untold millions of people across the globe who hunger in so many different ways. Many hunger for bread; others for justice; and those with an opened heart hunger for that which nourishes and sustains us for an eternity!
On this great Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (also known as Corpus Christi Sunday) which we celebrate today, we acknowledge that we, too, are a people who hunger and thirst for God as we journey through life. Last Sunday, we celebrated the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, a Love relationship between the three Divine Persons of God. Today, we celebrate the Love relationship which God has for each one of us, both you and me.
The strength of faith which these Peruvians presented to our late Holy Father was genuine and beautifully expressed, for their words were spoken from the depths of their hearts, an expression which also evoked feelings of thanksgiving for all the blessings which God had given to them.
And our Christian Eucharist is an expression of “giving thanks”. As a liturgical community, gathering around the Holy Altar at Mass, the Table of Sacrifice, you and I give thanks using the same simple elements used so long ago by Melchizedek, for as we read from the Book of Genesis –
“In those days, Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine, and being a priest of God Most High, he blessed Abram…” And, in the same prayer, he gave blessing to God.
Clearly, the Church sees this ancient rite as a “type”, that is a prefigurement, of the Eucharistic meal that Jesus gave us as a memorial of Himself, in which He offered Himself to His Father in Heaven for our redemption as an eternal blessing for us!
Melchizedek’s blessing ended on a note of victory, Abram’s victory over his enemies. Today’s Solemnity honors an even greater victory, Jesus’ victory over the enemy of sin and death – for it is Jesus Himself who feeds multitudes – you, me and all the faithful – by giving Himself to us in the form of simple bread and wine!
Each time, we, as a chosen people, gather around the Altar of Sacrifice at Holy Mass, we proclaim the New Covenant established by Christ some two thousand year ago, a Covenant which was sealed, not in the blood of animals, but in His own Blood as a perpetual peace offering to the Eternal Father, reconciling us with our Creator for all time.
This perfect Sacrifice which we repeat as a memorial each time Mass is offered to our Heavenly Father, reminds us of the unfathomable Love which God has for His children – a Love freely given, freely offered on the Cross at Calvary for you and me.
This Most Holy Sacrifice, this Most Precious Body and Blood, freely offered to the Eternal Father by Christ Himself, is one of God’s greatest gifts to His children. For those of us who truly believe, can we even imagine what life would be like without this Most Precious Gift?
And yet, sadly, there are those throughout the world who question or do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. As we approach the Table of Sacrifice at each Mass, are we able to proclaim the same statement of faith for ourselves, as those who spoke to our Holy Father in Peru?
When you and I approach the Altar of Consecration, and when we eat what looks and tastes like bread, and when we sip from the Chalice what looks and tastes like wine at Communion, as Catholic Christians, do we truly believe that we are eating and drinking the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ? Do we really believe that we are eating and drinking the Physical, Spiritual and Divine Presence of the Risen and Glorified Christ Himself?
The Magisterium of our Holy Church has always taught the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist under the species or appearances of bread and wine since the days of the Apostles.
Even the early Fathers of the Church, such as Saint Irenaeus in his writings against the early heresies in the Church, Saint Ignatius of Antioch in his letters to the Christian Churches in Smyrna, Ephesus and Philadelphia, communities within Asia, and in the First Apology of Saint Justin the Martyr – which was a letter in defense of the Christian faith, and so many more, all wrote about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist!
To use Saint Justin’s own words, written sometime between 150 to 160 A.D., he writes, “This food we call Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth [Baptism], and who lives as Christ handed down to us…from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the Flesh and Blood of the Incarnate Jesus.”
And our Lord Himself once said, “…the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life…”
This Gift of His Eucharistic Presence which we receive in Holy Communion, and which we hear about in Paul’s First Letter to the Church of Corinth, is God’s way of inviting us to be united with Him in a most profound and intimate way.
The Eucharist is truly a mystery of our faith. And for those of us whose faith is alive within our hearts, we look at this mystery of the Eucharist and accept it as God’s special way of remaining with us and saying to us each time we receive Him worthily, “I love you and I bless you.”
It is God’s special Gift to you and me – a Gift which nourishes and sustains us on our daily journey through this vale of tears in which we must all travel – a Gift which strengthens us for those times when we must bear the crosses we are called to carry in this life.
The Eucharist, as the Catechism teaches us, “is the source and summit of the Christian life. The other Sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the Blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ Himself.”
Today, on this great Solemnity, we are presented with one of the greatest Truths and mysteries of our faith, Jesus’ Eucharistic Presence among us – His Real Presence in a piece of unleavened bread and some wine which have been transformed into His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity for us to consume!
It is at the moment of Consecration in the Holy Mass which the bread and wine, which were brought to the altar in procession as an offering from us to the Eternal Father, and retaining its appearance and taste, actually become the Flesh and Blood of the same Jesus Christ, who suffered, died on the Cross, and rose from the dead!
When we receive the Risen Christ in Communion, it is not a symbol of His Presence or a sign of His Life to which we say “Amen”. It is Christ who gives us Himself – Physically, Spiritually and Divinely – so that we might be transformed into His Image and Likeness, so that He may be united with us and we with Him in total Love.
For it is the words of today’s psalmist which should truly echo the faith which fills our entire being, “How shall I make a return to the LORD for all the good he has done for me? The cup of salvation I will take up, and I will call upon the name of the LORD.”
May this spiritual nourishment of His Most Precious Body and Blood– a Gift of complete selfless Love, the Gift of Himself – sustain us and give us the strength needed to become Christ-like in our daily journey through this life!
And may His Flesh and Blood become for us the spiritual nourishment and food for that final journey which each one of us must experience, one day, in God’s time.
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine. He was a priest of God Most High. He blessed Abram…” (Genesis 14:18-19a)
- “The LORD says to my lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, while I make your enemies your footstool’ …The LORD has sworn and will not waver: ‘You are a priest forever in the manner of Melchizedek.’” (Psalm 110:1, 4)
- “For this reason he is mediator of a new covenant: since a death has taken place for deliverance from transgressions under the first covenant, those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.” (Hebrews 9:15)
- “He has no need, as did the high priests, to offer sacrifice day after day, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did that once for all when he offered himself.” (Hebrews 7:27)
- “…the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world…Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” (John 6:51c, 53-54)
- “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” (John 6:55-56)
- “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:23b-26)
- “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?” (1 Corinthians 10:16)
- “How can I repay the LORD for all the great good done for me? I will raise the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.” (Psalm 116:12-13)
Prayer for the Day
“Jesus, my Lord and my Savior,
I confess that I am a sinner.
But in Your Goodness,
You invite me to approach Your Holy Table
and to partake of Your Heavenly Banquet.
“Trusting in Your Mercy,
I come to You with confidence,
albeit with it a contrite and humbled heart.
Come to me, Lord Jesus,
and keep me in Your Love.
“‘Lord, I am not worthy
that You should enter under my roof.
Say but the word,
and my soul shall be healed.’
“Help me to recognize You
in the Consecrated bread and wine.
Feed me with Your Most Precious Body and Blood;
nourish and strengthen me in my life of faith.
“Help me with Your grace to live a virtuous life,
fulfilling all that You have asked of me.
For it is only in You, Jesus, where I find my true faith;
it is only in You where I find my eternal salvation.”Anonymous