Today is the feast of Corpus Christi or the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. It is a Eucharistic Feast. A perfect thanksgiving we offer to God who has brought us from nothingness into existence. He has brought us from one stage in our lives to the next. This feast celebrates the body and blood, soul and Divinity of our Lord, Jesus Christ in the appearances of Bread and wine. It is the highest worship we can offer to God. In it we take the greatest act of Love and gift God has given to us and offer back to Him, just as the Psalmist has said in Psalm 116: “what can I offer to God for all His gifts to me? I will take up the chalice of salvation and offer to the Lord.” It reminds us of both a historical and sacramental reality. The one, who was crucified on that fateful Good Friday, is also the one that is received in the sacrament of the body and blood of Jesus Christ called the Eucharist. The Eucharist re-enacts the sacrifice of the cross on Calvary in an un-bloody way.
In the Eucharist, Jesus, the true bread from heaven, comes into those who eat of him and drink of him to offer them eternal life. The Jews of the time stubbornly rejected this offer. Instead of accepting this great gift of God, they began to plot the downfall of Jesus. In today’s gospel, Jesus sets out to prove to the Jews that he is the true bread or the true manna from above.
Jesus insists that the bread in the desert is not the true bread. It was only a foretaste of the true bread to come. The manna was like a shadow, or a loose copy of the real bread. But the real bread from heaven was yet to come. This is what constitutes the Jewish Ignorance – they have failed to make a link between Jesus and the food in the desert. However, as Jesus reminded them, because the manna in the desert could only solve physical hunger, it could not give eternal life, which is the main function of the bread from heaven. In view of this typological reality in which Jesus the true bread has appeared, we can see that Jesus is now the giver of eternal life. In other words, Jesus also points out to the Jews that the repeated sacrifices of the Old Testament that were offered but could not give life are no longer necessary. In this way, Jesus moves the argument from ‘this world’ to ‘the other world.’ Consequently, he lifts it up to a transcendental level. As a result, the Old Testament priests no longer hold the key to heaven but Jesus himself.
The contemporaries of Jesus should have made the connection between the central sign of the loaves, one of them being the first one, at the marriage feast of Cana in Galilee, where the one who changed water into wine, could change bread into his body and wine into his blood. They should have believed more so, as he fed thousands of people with few loaves and two fish. The one, who performed these great signs, will on the cross, sacrificed as the lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, will issue out blood and water as his side is pierced with the lance. This reminds us of the power of the blood of the lamb, sacrificed by the people of God in the Old Testament. The blood on the lintel of their houses made the destroying angel to turn away from them, to destroy the first-born of their enemies. It brought about their freedom from servitude. The eating of the lamb of sacrifice equipped them for the journey to cross the Red Sea to a place of safety.
Looking at the power of the Eucharist, we see that it is food for our journey. It is our viaticum. With it, Jesus journeys with us to the banks of eternity. When we eat of him and drink of him, he seals and shields us against Satan, sin and death. We become stronger and go on under God’s powerful protection against all challenges along the way if salvation.
Our attitude should be that of recognition and appreciation of what God has done for us in our salvation history and throughout our lives. The Old Testament people of God were asked to remember what God had done for them. We too, should remember all that God has done for us: How He brought us into being. When we were nothing, how He made into who we are. He brought us from step to step through our lives’ journey until now. These are the acts of love we celebrate and thank God for in the Eucharist. Above all, we celebrate with great joy the Last supper of Our Lord Jesus Christ in which He asked us to do this in His memory. We celebrate the great love which Our Lord Jesus Christ showed when on Mount Calvary He offered Himself as Priest and Victim to the eternal Father for Our Salvation and His Blood was shed to wash us from our sins and to free us from bondage. Today, let us make every effort to reciprocate this great Love of God for us by being Eucharistic people.
O sacred banquet, in which Christ becomes our food, the memory of His passion is celebrated, the soul is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us. Help us to reverence the sacred mysteries of Your Body and Blood that we may constantly feel in our lives the effects of your redemption.