Homily (Reflection) for the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (B) (03rd June, 2018) on the Gospel and the Solemnity
Ex 24:3-8;Ps 115:12-13.15-18 (R. V. 13);
The universal Church celebrates today the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). It is also known as the Holy Eucharist among so many other names. We celebrate our belief based on the scripture that the Holy Eucharist is the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, cf. Mk 14:22, 24; 1Cor 10:16. The dogmatic constitution on the Church of the Vatican II (Lumen Gentium) rightly calls the Holy Eucharist “the source and summit of the Christian life” (no. 11).
Note that in some parts of the world like Europe, this solemnity is accompanied by Eucharistic procession but in other parts the Eucharistic procession is shifted to the solemnity of Christ the king because of the rainy season.
Topic: Christ’s Body and Blood (cf. Mk 14:22, 24).
“The old covenant was sealed with the blood of the sacrifice which Moses sprinkled on the people. The new covenant was sealed with the blood of Christ who offered himself as a perfect sacrifice to God” (The Sunday Missal: A new edition (1995). London: HarperCollinsReligious, p. 576).
Today’s gospel reads in part:
While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘Take; this is my body’. Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many (Mk 14:22-24).
We are celebrating the solemnity of Christ's giving of His body and blood for our both spiritual and temporal nourishment. The body and blood of Christ is the foretaste of the heavenly banquet. Hence, we read from the book of Revelation those words we proclaim at every Mass “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9). In the Eucharistic celebration, we obey the Lord’s command: “… Do this in remembrance of me” (Lk 22:19; cf. 1Cor 11:24, 25). The Holy Eucharist is therefore the re-enactment of that supreme sacrifice on mount Calvary, cf. 1Cor 10:16.
In our everyday life, some are asked to abstain from some food item/s not as a result of hatred but out of love. This is because doing the contrary will worsen their state of health. In the same way, the reception of the Holy Communion can be both beneficial as well as harmful to the recipients. Hence, St Paul sternly warns:
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgement against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged (1Cor 11: 27-31).
But if eating of the body and drinking of the blood of Jesus Christ might bring damnation, is it not better not to eat and drink at all? Jesus has the answer:
‘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. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them (Jn 6:53-56).
No matter how “holy” one thinks he or she is, no one is worthy to receive the body and blood of the Lord. Accordingly, we always express this unworthiness just before the reception of Holy Communion: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed”, cf. Matt 8:8. Bearing this in mind, GOOD CONFESSION is sine qua non for all who wants to receive worthily.
Out of love for us, Jesus instituted this sacrament and also sealed it with his death on the cross, cf. Rom 5: 6-11. Just as Christ gives us His body and blood for our salvation, each of us ought to give his or her own body and blood for the good of others, cf. Jn 13:15. This must be out of love lest it will be in vain, cf. 1Cor 13:3. So as we eat the body and drink the blood of our Lord, we must ask ourselves how far we have allowed ourselves to be broken for the good of others because we are the body of Christ and individually members of the body of Christ, cf. Eph 5:23; 1Cor 12:27.
Let us conclude with this: One day, a mad woman sitting outside the church watched with keen interest every part of the Mass. Occasionally, she muttered some unintelligible words, laughed and sometimes very calm. When it was time for the reception of the Holy Communion, the mad woman was shocked to see a woman named Mgbeke stood up. With bare hands the mad woman cleaned her eyes as if to confirm that she was still seeing correctly. She was shaking her head in disapproval as Mgbeke moved to join the line of those who would receive the Holy Communion. At a point, she began to murmur in her dialect (Igbo): ‘Mgbeke echedị na ihe nụnwa bụ bisikiti? Ka o che na ọ bụ chịngọm? Ọ madịkwọ na a na-akwado akwado tupu e jee nata ya? Ewo!, ewo!, asịkwọnụ na ụkọchukwu maara onye Mgbeke bụ, ọ gaghị enye ya ihenụnwa. Hei, ọ ka na-ejekwọ, ọ na-ejesikwọ ike, ọ na-ejesikwọ ike, o rue, o sekpuru, o mepee ọnụ ya, e nye ya, o loo-o-o. Ewo! Jesu ndo, Ị hụsiela anya n’aka ụmụ mmadụ’ (For those who do not understand Igbo language: the mad woman could not understood why Mgbeke of all people should receive the Holy Communion. She wondered whether Mgbeke thought that Holy Communion was biscuit or chewing gum. As she watched, she also commented on her movement to the altar, her kneeling down, opening of her mouth, receiving the Holy Communion, and her swallowing it. According to her if the priest knew Mgbeke, he would not have given her the Holy Communion).
Bible Reading: Lk 22:14-23; Jn 6:22-71; 1Cor 6:12-20; 1Cor 10:1-22; 1Cor 11:23-32; 1Cor 12:12-31; 1Cor 13:1-13; 2Cor 6:14-7:1; Rom 7:1-6; Eph 4:1-16; Rev 19:5-9.
Thought for today: Should that same mad woman who spoke about Mgbeke speak about you, what will she say – that you are another Mgbeke, worse than Mgbeke, or...?
Let us pray: Eucharistic Jesus, help us to receive you out of the love we have for you. May we break ourselves and let our blood flow for the salvation of our brothers and sisters just as you did for us – Amen.
May the Body and Blood of Christ bring us to life everlasting – AMEN!
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