The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Fr. Vinner)
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today the Holy Mother Church celebrates the wonderful gift of God to her and the entire world – the Body and Blood of his only son Jesus Christ which is “Really Present” under the form of bread and wine in the Holy Eucharist. The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is also known as the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, which means “Body of Christ.” This feast originated in France in the mid thirteenth century and was extended to the whole Church by Pope Urban IV in 1264. This feast calls us to focus on two manifestations of the Body of Christ: The Holy Eucharist as its primary purpose, and the Church.
In the study of Human Nutrition and other food related courses the following statements stand very true: “You are what you eat” and, “good food and nutrition nourishes the body.” In as much as these are true, however, physical food is limited to nourishing the physical body, even though it is usually said that a healthy soul or mind dwells in a healthy body. While the physical food we eat nourishes the body, the spiritual food – the Body and Blood of Christ nourishes our soul, prepares and preserves it for eternity.
The Eucharist does not only make the mind or soul fit to dwell in a healthy body, but also makes it worthy or fit to appear before its Lord and God. The Eucharist (Body and Blood of Christ) is the food that God has providentially made available to us in order to nourish us on our spiritual journey. This is why in the case of the sick or those critically sick, when it is administered it is referred to as “via ticum, that is, food for the journey.” The Eucharist is one way through which God’s abiding presence continues to be with us. What this means therefore is that whenever we eat this food worthily we welcome God’s presence and he remains with, and nourishes us. In light of this, our worship of Jesus in His Body and Blood calls us to offer to God our Father a pledge of undivided faith, love and an offering of ourselves to the service of others.
Today’s first reading describes how Moses, by sprinkling the blood of a sacrificed animal on the altar and on the people, accepted the Covenant Yahweh proposed and made with His People. In the second reading, St. Paul affirms that Jesus sealed the New Covenant with his own Blood, thereby putting an end to animal sacrifices. Today’s Gospel details how Jesus converted this ancient ritual into a Sacrament and sacrifice. Instead of the lamb’s blood, Jesus offered his own Divine/human Body and Blood, and instead of sprinkling us with blood, Jesus put it into our hands as food and drink: “Take … eat … this IS my Body which will be given up for you” (He did not say “This represents my body”), and “Take … drink …This is … my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal Covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many….” (nor did He say, “This represents my blood…”).
A Sacrament and a sacrifice: Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist both as a sacramental banquet and a sacrificial offering. As a Sacrament, a) the Eucharist is a visible sign that gives us God’s grace and God’s life and, b) as a Meal, The Eucharist nourishes our souls. As a sacrifice a) the Eucharistic celebration is a re-presentation or re-enactment of Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary, completed in His Resurrection. b) We offer Jesus’ sacrifice to God the Father for the remission of our sins, using signs and symbols.
According to Pope Francis, “The Eucharist is not just a weekly way of celebrating our faith, but should radically affect our relationship with others, especially with those most in need.” There are three ways of discovering how the Eucharist can make a real difference in our lives and in our relationships with those around us. The first is the way we look and behave towards people from all walks of life. Just as Christ loved to be with others and gave himself to all on the Cross, so we are called to give ourselves generously to our brothers and sisters, sharing in their joys and sorrows. Secondly, the Eucharist gives us the grace to feel forgiven and to be ready to forgive others. We go to Mass, not because we are worthy or want to appear better than others, but because we know that we always need God’s love and mercy that comes to us through the Body and Blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. Thirdly, the Eucharist affects the life of our Christian communities. It is from the Eucharist that we as a Church receive our identity and mission. It is not something we do simply to commemorate what Jesus did for us. Rather it is something that Christ does for us, filling us with grace and nourishing us with His own life. Therefore we must live and worship the Eucharistic Christ, in a spirit of faith and prayer, a spirit of forgiveness, joy and concern for all our brothers and sisters with whom “we form one single body.”
Let us appreciate the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, by receiving him with true repentance for our sins, due preparation and reverence. Let us be Christ-bearers and conveyers: By receiving Holy Communion, we become Christ-bearers as Mary was, with the duty of conveying Christ to others at home and in the workplace, through love, mercy, forgiveness and humble and sacrificial service. Let us offer our lives on the altar along with Jesus’ sacrifice, asking pardon for our sins, expressing gratitude for the blessings we have received and presenting our needs and petitions on the altar.
May God Bless us.
FR. S.Vinner HGN