The Body and Blood of Christ
-Corpus Christi-
(Celebrated 2nd Sunday after Pentecost)

eucharist.jpg (55349 bytes)
The Institution of the Eucharist - by JOOS van Wassenhove -
from
Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, Urbino

 

John 6:51-58

My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Jesus said to the crowds of Jews: "I Myself am the living bread come down from heaven. If anyone eats this Bread he shall live forever; the Bread I will give is My flesh, for the life of the world." At this the Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can He give us His flesh to eat?" Thereupon Jesus said to them: "Let Me solemnly assure you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. He who feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood has life eternal, and I will raise Him up on the last day. For My flesh is real food and My blood real drink. The man who feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me, and I in him. Just as the Father Who has life sent Me and I have life because of the Father, so the man who feeds on Me will have life because of Me. This is the Bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and died nonetheless, the man who feeds on this Bread shall live forever."

 

The Body and Blood of Christ
-Corpus Christi-

eucharist10.jpg (34212 bytes)Today we celebrate the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. Today we pause for a while and reflect over those words of Christ which we repeat every Sunday we come together for Mass: "Take and eat, this is My body.... Take and drink, this is My blood." Before Jesus left the world He gave His followers the sacrament of His Body and Blood in the form of bread and wine, as a way of continually being present with them. He said, "Those who eat My flesh and drink My blood abide in Me, and I in them" (John 6:56), showing that through this sacrament we can maintain our relationship, our unity and our intimacy with Jesus. He said, "My flesh is true food and My blood is true drink" (John 6:55), showing that just as food and drink are essential for life, so are the Body and Blood of Christ in the form of bread and wine essential for spiritual life. And He said, "Those who eat My flesh and drink My blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day" (John 6:54), showing the supreme importance of this sacrament not only for life with God on earth but for life with God in eternity. Since this sacrament is so important in the Christian life, it is fitting that on a day like this that is dedicated in a special way to the Body and Blood of Christ, we should (1) give thanks for God's ever-abiding love manifested in this sacrament, (2) resolve to receive this sacrament more regularly and worthily, and (3) if there is any thing that prevents us from receiving this sacrament, to do everything possible to overcome the obstacle and return to a life of communion with the Lord. Did Our Lord not say, "Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you." (John 6:53)?

priesthands.jpg (9260 bytes)The
Eucharist, the real presence of Christ in the form of bread and wine, is one of the greatest treasures of the Catholic faith. Mary Ann Seton, the first American saint, was an Episcopalian. On a visit to Rome she could not find an Episcopalian church to attend on Sunday so she went to a Catholic church. There she was able to see the reverence and piety with which Catholics received holy communion. She remarked the deep peace and joy that shone on their faces as they came back to their seats from the altar and she saw that each and every one of them was radiating the conviction that they had indeed received Our Lord Jesus Christ. From then on her heart burned with the desire to receive Our Lord as these Catholics were doing. This led her to find her way to the Catholic Church where she found the desire of her heart.

In 1885 John Henry Newman as a professor in Oxford University was making up his mind to join the Catholic Church. His Anglican friends tried to dissuade him by reminding him that he was going to lose his 75,000 a year teaching position. "75,000 a year?" replied Newman, "What is that to one Holy Communion?"

These stories remind us of God's sacramental presence and blessing that we Catholics tend to take for granted. If any of us were careless in approaching this sacrament, today is a good day to open our eyes to the mystery and rekindle our devotion to Christ in His Body and Blood.