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The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

June 14, 2020

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

June 14, 2020

Deacon Anthony J. Cincotta

Assistant Director for Retreat Ministry

 

Book of Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16b

Psalm 147

First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians

John 6:51-58

 

I once read a story about a cannibal who was taking an overseas plane ride.  When the flight attendant gave him a menu for his meal it seemed that it took him a long time to make a decision.  Finally he called the attendant over and said, “Can I have the passenger’s list instead?”

In today’s Gospel, Jesus proclaims that He is the “Living Bread” and tells the Jews, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”  But the Jews could not understand what He was saying.  When they heard this proclamation they were totally confused since eating another human’s flesh and drinking their blood was “cannibalism.”  I could just hear them now, “Is this man mad?  Why is He saying this to us?”  The Jews did not realize that our Lord was presenting Himself to them, and to all of us, as food “par excellence, the food of eternal life.”

For the past three Sunday’s we have celebrated wonderful reminders of our Catholic tradition.  Two weeks ago, on Pentecost Sunday, the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles.  Last week we were reminded of the unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit on Trinity Sunday.  Today we celebrate the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi.   

The history of Corpus Christi dates back over 750 years.  an Augustinian nun named Juliana of Liege had a vision in which a glistening full moon appeared to her.  The moon was perfect except for some hollow dark spots which she was told represented the absence of the feast of the Eucharist.  This eventually led to the celebration of Corpus Christi which was introduced to the Church calendar in 1264 by Pope Urban IV.  We know Saint Juliana as the patron saint devoted to the Blessed Sacrament.

Why do we need a feast of the Eucharist?  A feast like this affords us the opportunity to give God our collective thanks for Christ’s abiding presence with us which is made visible in the Eucharist.  It is also an opportunity for us to seek a better understanding of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.  In his first letter to the Corinthians (11:29-30) Saint Paul wrote, All who eat and drink in an unworthy manner, without discerning the Lord’s body eat and drink judgment against themselves.  For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.”

Sisters and Brothers, in order to have a better understanding of the Eucharist we need to ask why Jesus gave us this Sacrament in the first place.  Today’s Gospel, as well at the rest of John, Chapter 6, provides answers for us.  From these readings we find that there are two main reasons Jesus gave us the Sacrament.

  • First is that our Lord promised to be with us until the end of time. In the Holy Eucharist He provides a visible sign and an effective means of Him being present to us and with us being present to Him.  He said to us, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in Him.”
  • Secondly, Jesus said the He came to us that we may have life and have it to the full. In the Eucharist He provides a visible means of communicating this life to us so that we can be fully alive both in this world and in the next.  He said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.”

So, back to the Jews that Jesus was addressing today.  They were asking Him for more bread.  Jesus promised to give them the sacramental Bread and Blood instead.  They ended up distancing themselves from the Eucharist because the sacramental language made no sense to them.  I believe that the same problem that these early would-be followers of Jesus had is still with us today.  If we approach the Eucharist with a failure to understand its true meaning we too lose the benefits of such a wonderful gift of God’s love.  Don’t you agree?

Friends, the Holy Eucharist is true food and drink but at the same time it is very different from every other food and drink.  The great difference lies in these words of Christ which Saint Augustine heard in prayer, “You will not change me into yourself as you would food of your flesh; but you will be changed into me.” 

We all know that we divide time into BC and AD; BC is before Christ and AD, Anno Domini, or the Year of our Lord, since the birth of Jesus.  This is our way of showing that Jesus is the center of the world and that the life and teachings of Jesus is the most important event in all of history.  Everything in history pales into insignificance compared to Jesus.  It is the same in our lives; Jesus should be the center of our lives.  That center is the Holy Eucharist – the source and summit of our faith.

Our country and our world has been radically affected by the Coronavirus pandemic and our lives have been altered in many ways.  In order to keep ourselves from being affected by COVID-19 we have remained in our homes, worked from home, seen our children educated from home and have been unable to attend Holy Mass.  When we live stream Mass from our parishes our priests are celebrating inside an empty church.  We have been receiving “Spiritual Communion” in place of the actual gift of Jesus’ Body onto our hands or onto our tongues.     

Praise God, our churches have opened to accommodate fifty-percent occupancy and we are now able to attend daily and weekend Mass.  Our parish chapels are available for Eucharistic Adoration as well as many other devotions.  But there is more.  We are now able to receive the precious gift of our Risen Lord. 

May I suggest that when you receive the Holy Eucharist that you do it with a more lively faith and understanding of the real presence of Jesus and the saving power of God’s transforming love.  Tell your family, especially your children and grandchildren, the Body and Blood of Christ, as in my first paragraph, is no joking matter. 

Question of the Day:  As you return to Holy Mass will you “re-cherish” the benefits of receiving the Body of Christ as a true gift of God’s love and promise of eternal life?

Prayer:  “Soul of Christ, sanctify me; Body of Christ, save me; Blood of Christ, inebriate me; Water from the side of Christ, wash me; Passion of Christ, strengthen me; O good Jesus hear me; Within your wounds, hide me; separated from you, let me never be; from the evil one, protect me; At the hour of my death, call me; and close to you bid me; That with your saints, I may be praising you forever and ever.  Amen.”  (Anima Christi Prayer)

Please continue to pray for the victims of the Coronavirus and all who have been affected by this unprecedented pandemic as well as for peace in our country and in our world. .

Prosit

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