Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Genesis 14:18-20 – 1Corinthians 11:23-26 – Luke 9:11-17.

I invite you to meditate with me today upon the profound mystery of Corpus Christi – the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. This annual Solemnity gives us the opportunity to ponder the sacramental presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Our faith is that, when we receive Holy Communion, we are partaking of the real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ under the species of bread and wine. The Holy Eucharist is the Lord’s gift by which He will remain actively with us (Mt 28:20) within the Church until the end of time.

Today’s Solemnity is closely allied to Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Last Supper. The primary difference between the two Solemnities is that, following the Institution of the Holy Eucharist, we sorrow that our dire need for redemption led to His betrayal, torture and self-offering of Himself on the Cross in atonement for our sins. At Corpus Christi, we rejoice at Our Lord’s generosity in giving of His very Self to us as nourishment in order to satisfy our spiritual hunger in material terms as we tread our path through life.

When Jesus commanded us at the Institution of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday to do this in memory of Him, He intended us not only to remember His suffering and sacrifice of Himself for us, but also to participate as often as you do this to make Him ever-present with us (anamnesis). He didn’t say “this bread is my body” but “This IS My Body”. Nor did He declare that “this wine is my blood” but “This IS My Blood”. That is the Catholic Faith! The Catechism states that “… by the consecration of the bread and wine, there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the Body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His Blood”.

This feast of Corpus Christi is also about the Church community as “the Body of Christ” (Rom12:4). Each one of us has responded positively to Jesus’ invitation to participate in the Most Holy Sacrament. It follows that each one of us is a member of the worldwide community that partakes of the Body and Blood of Christ. In so doing, we become one with Christ (Eph 5:30) and incorporated into “the Body of Christ”. As one body, the Church, we become one with Christ who we receive – the Christ who offered himself for us.

The Offertory can be seen as a vehicle for what each one of us brings to the altar to be shared. Let the fruit of your labour and the work of your hands serve to satisfy not only you yourself but also people who, like you, have material and spiritual needs. As the priest is offering the wheaten bread and the grape wine, the people’s prayer is that the Lord may accept the sacrifice … for our good and the good of all His holy Church. If our hearts are not open and ready to share with the needy in daily life, we are far from emulating the Christ whom we receive in the Eucharist, the One who commanded His disciples to give them something to eat yourselves (Lk 9:13). As Christians, we cannot participate worthily in the Holy Eucharist if we are not following Christ’s example of reaching out with compassion to the suffering, the lonely, the poor and the needy.

The pinnacle of the Eucharistic life is achieved when we literally receive within ourselves the Body and Blood of The Son of God who emptied Himself completely and sacrificially for our salvation. Having received Him, we go back into the world, bearing Our Blessed Lord within us, to carry out the specific mission with which He has entrusted us. It is incumbent upon us to continue His mission of spreading the Good News (Mk16:15) that God is real and that God is Love, and of putting that news into practice by caring and sharing for His sake.

To fulfil this mission to the best of our ability, it is necessary for us to participate worthily and regularly in the Holy Eucharist. We need to immerse ourselves in the presence of the Lord Jesus in the Eucharist. How come? Because through participating repeatedly in the sacrament down the years, we become increasingly conformed to Christ. To have eternal life in us, we are to eat His flesh and drink His Blood (Jn 6:54). The priest at the altar presents to God gifts of bread and wine, as did Melchizedek. In the sacrament of the altar, those same elements are transubstantiated into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ who gives us the pledge of eternal life and the satisfaction of our souls’ hunger for God. May I commend to you Pope St Pius’ X’s exhortation to partake regularly and in a state of grace of the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, proclaiming His sacrificial death until He comes again (2R v.26). Amen. God bless you.