Homily (Reflection) for the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (A) (18th June, 2017) on the Gospel and the Solemnity
Deut 8:2-3.14-16;Ps 147:12-15.19-20 (R.V.12)
We celebrate with the universal Church the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). In some parts of the world like Europe, this solemnity is accompanied by Eucharistic procession but because it falls during the rainy season in this part of the world, the Eucharistic procession is shifted to be part of the solemnity of Christ the King.
Topic: Unless you eat and drink, cf. Jn 6:53.
When the people of God (Israelites) were moving from Egypt (the land slavery, cf. Gen 47:20-26; Ex 1:8-11) to the Promised Land (the land of freedom, cf. 2Cor 3:17; Gal 5:13), God sustained them by giving them food and drink, cf. Ex 15:22-17:7; Jn 6:31. Again while Elijah was fleeing from Jezebel, God sent His angel to feed him twice. With the strength of that food he travelled forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God, cf. 1Kg 19:5-8. The movement of the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land is a prefiguration of our journey from this world to the true Promised Land (heaven). And for our sustenance on this journey, Jesus has given us true food and drink (Jn 6:32; 15:1), his body and blood, cf. Matt 26:26-28. Hence, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) calls the Holy Eucharist (the Body and Blood of Christ) “… the sacrament of passing … from this world to the Father” (n.1524).
The Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament of sacraments because all the other sacraments are ordered to it as their end (CCC 1211). It reads further: “The Eucharist 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, our Pasch” (CCC 1324). Hence, sharing in the Holy Eucharist is partaking in the Lord’s Supper, 1Cor 11:20. And the scripture calls those who are called to partake in this meal blessed and we remind ourselves this in every Eucharistic celebration, (cf. Rev 19:9).
There is a story in Fr Tomi Thomas’ work, Spice up your homilies. In a religion class, the teacher asked the children: “Tell me, at Mass, whose body do we eat?” One boy raised his hand and when given the opportunity, he said: “Father Reilly’s body” according to him whenever he goes to Mass, Father Reilly will raise the Host and say “This is my body”. It is Christ’s body and blood that we receive. Priests only obey the injunction given by Christ at the institution of this great sacrament when he said: “… This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me … In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1Cor 11:24-25).
The offering of His body and blood freely is one thing and another for those to whom it was given to accept. Jesus came that we may have life, and have it abundantly, yet we refuse to come to him that we may have life, cf. Jn 5:40. 10:10. We read from the gospel: “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” (Jn 6:51). Many today do not believe in the Holy Eucharist. Some who believe do not receive. And others who believe receive unworthily. Even those who first heard about the body and blood of Christ found it too hard to accept. But despite the seeming difficulty, Jesus did not change the message, cf. Jn 6:60-69.
No matter the argument and reasons we have either individually or collectively for or against the Holy Eucharist, it seems Jesus has given the conclusion:
…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. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink (Jn 6:53-55).
So it is left for us to either save ourselves by eating the life-giving food or abstain from it and die. And if anyone dies he or she will be responsible for his or her death, cf. Ezek 33:8-9.
Bible Reading: 1Kg 19:1-8; Mk 14:22-24; Jn 6:22-50; 1Cor 11:23-32.
Thought for today: Do you believe and accept this Jesus’ life-giving gift?
Let us pray: May our Lord in the Holy Eucharist help us not just to receive him but to always receive him worthily – Amen.
May the body and blood of Christ bring us to life everlasting – Amen!
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