Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) focuses on the magnificent gift of the Eucharist. In the Gospel for this Feast, Jesus states, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.”
In the First Reading Moses speaks about the manna given to the Israelites and cautions them not to forget what God has done for them. Moses says, “Do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland with poisonous snakes and scorpions.”
Just as God gave manna to the Israelites in the First Reading, God gives to us “the Bread of Life” on our journey. We too can forget and become self-absorbed. Like the snakes and scorpions that Moses refers to, satan tries to afflict us on our faith journey. He wants us to forget about God and His real presence in the Eucharist. He does this by trying to sow the seeds of doubt.
Do we really believe that the bread and wine has become the Body and Blood of Christ? Maybe they simply ‘represent’ His Body and Blood. The words of Jesus are unambiguous, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
From the very words of Christ the Church has developed her understanding of the Eucharist. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique…In the most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained” (CCC 1374). This quote concludes by stating that of all the ways that Jesus can be present to us, His Eucharistic presence is the most perfect. In the Second Reading, St. Paul speaks about the unity we share in the Eucharist. He states, “The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the Body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.”
In a later verse, that is not part of this Sunday’s Gospel, we are told that many left the Lord when He proclaimed that He was the Bread of Life. They found this teaching too difficult to accept. If the Eucharist is a sign of unity then not believing is a form of dissent that breaks that unity. This is what happened 500 years ago at the Reformation. A number of the reformers rejected this teaching and the Church, the Body of Christ, was divided. To be Catholic means to believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This teaching is non-negotiable; however, we know that people of faith can still struggle to believe. There is no question that because satan is always tempting us not to believe, we need to be strengthened.
We need to be constantly reminded that we are receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. The Feast of Corpus Christi provides us with this opportunity as we reflect upon the magnificent gift of the Holy Eucharist.