The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, June 6
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.
In the Letter to the Hebrews, we read words today which speak to us of the promise of redemption for God’s faithful children earned for us through the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ, a deliverance from our transgressions against the Love of God, an assurance that our Lord will nourish us and strengthen us in our weaknesses with His Mercy and His Divine Presence –
“…those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.”
I remember mentioning this once before in an earlier Meditation a few months ago, but I feel that it is so pertinent, since it relates directly to today’s Solemnity.
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 Pope 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 open 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 and every one of us, both you and me!
The strength of faith which these Peruvians presented to our Holy Father was genuine and beautifully expressed, for their words were spoken from the depths of their hearts. So, too, were the words of faith spoken by the Israelites in our First Reading, when they, with a single voice, cried out, “We will do everything that the LORD has told us.”
God created a covenant with His chosen people. And this pledge on God’s part to watch over, to love and protect His children was sealed not only in the words of assent which the Israelites proclaimed in their words of praise, but also in the blood of animal sacrifice which was offered on the altar as a sign of their thanksgiving and obedience to His will.
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 continues to be a growing number of Catholics 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 the Glorified and Risen Christ? Do we really believe that we are eating and drinking the Physical and Spiritual and Divine Presence of the Jesus 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 time 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, a community 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 our Gospel Reading today, is God’s way of inviting us to be united with Him in a most profound and intimate way.
The Most Holy 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 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, my child, 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, our daily pilgrimage 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, in 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 by the Holy Spirit, through the words and actions of the ordained priest, 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 some two thousand years ago.
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 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 when we depart from this life, which each one of us must experience, one day, in God’s time.
What a most wondrous Gift our Savior has left us! – a Gift of complete selfless Love, the Gift of Himself!
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
- “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)
- “When Moses came to the people and related all the words and ordinances of the LORD, they all answered with one voice, ‘We will do everything that the LORD has told us.’” (Exodus 24:3)
- “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)
- “While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.” (Mark 14:22-24)
- “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,Anonymous
I come to You with confidence,
albeit with it a contrite and humbled heart.
Come to me, Lord Jesus,
and please 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.”