Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ Breakfast with the Word
God so much loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). In this love, the Word of God becomes flesh and dwells among us (John 1:14).
At the last supper, He made His flesh real food; He took bread and said “this is my body” (Luke 22:19), do this in remembrance of me (1 Cor 11:24). He gave man this flesh as nourishment for his eternal salvation. From God to the form of a baby, from the baby Jesus to the form of bread; all for the love He has for man.
To sustain this love, He promised His Church “I will be with you until the end of time (Matthew 28:20).
Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Corpus Christi; the feast of the body and blood of Christ; a celebration of God’s love for his people, His continual presence and nourishment. By instituting the Holy Eucharist Jesus gave the Church the greatest treasure.
Old Testament Prefiguration of the Bread of Life.
To fully understand the celebration of today, we have to go down the root to discover the significance of bread in the life of the Jews. The culture from which Jesus grew up.
1.When Adam sinned by eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, God told him, “By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread” (Gen. 3:19). That is the first time that the word “bread” is mentioned in the bible. This is to show the necessity of bread.
We remember in Matthew 6:11, while Jesus was teaching them how to pray, he said “Give us this day our daily bread”. In the life of any Jew, bread is extremely needed.
2.Melchizedek, the King of Salem, welcomed Abraham our father with “bread and wine” when Abraham returned from his victory over the four allied kings (Gen. 14: 18).
Remember that Abraham also offered “a morsel of bread” to the three angels who visited him in the guise of strangers, and he hurried Sarah to knead and make cakes out of fine flour (Gen. 18:5-6).
Lot baked unleavened cakes for the two of the angels who came to destroy Sodom and save him (Gen. 19:3).
Bread here is a sign of hospitality and love. We remember how In 1 Samuel 9:7 David said he would show Mephibosheth kindness in remembrance of his father Jonathan and promised that he would eat bread at his table continually.
This shows that when one gives you bread, it is a sign of love, kindness and hospitality.
3. When God guided the Israelites through the wilderness, He fed them with manna. That showed He was continual with them and providing for their needs.
Even when the raining down manna from heaven ended, God instructed Moses to preserve an omer of manna in a jar [Exodus 16:33].
God also had commanded the priests to always keep twelve loaves of bread on the golden table. This display served to remind people of God’s presence. So, Bread here is a sign of His continual presence.
4. In 1 Kings 19, Elijah was fed with a baked cake. After eating it, Elijah got strength and walked 40 days and 40 nights to Mount Horeb.
In 1 Samuel 21:6, when David was hungry and stressed, the priest gave him consecrated bread. He ate and satisfied His quest. A sign that bread is a source of strength and satisfaction of hunger.
As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, we have to note the true importance of this food. This will help us to understand the mystery behind it when Christ gives us bread as His body.
The importance of bread, in Jewish life, can also be seen from the fact that when a jew wishes to eat bread, it is necessary to wash his hands in a certain way, recite a blessing “concerning the washing of the hands,” and then recite the blessing “Who brings forth bread from the earth.”
After eating, it is also necessary to recite the long Grace (Birkas haMozon). Signifying how sacred and important bread is. The Jews need bread for sustenance, indicating how much a man must rely on it for his life.
So, when Jesus raises the bread and says take this, this is my body, it simply means He is giving us His body as the most important food we need for our earthly existence. He is giving an important food as a source of our strength, food that will quench our hunger, and food that will be a sign of his continual presence, a sign of love and kindness, to sustain us to eternal life.
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ and The Real Presence of Jesus Christ.
The celebration of today is simply a profound mystery, that Jesus Christ is truly present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity under the appearances of bread and wine in the Holy Eucharist.
This belief is simply based upon the words of Jesus Himself when He instituted the Eucharist.
In today’s gospel. Jesus took the bread and said, “This is my body” (also check Mt 26:26), and He took the cup filled with wine and said, “This is my blood” (also check Mt 26:28).
When Jesus said, “This is my body,” He was not holding a flesh, He was holding a bread but He declares that the bread is His Body, and the wine is His blood.
This is beyond scientific investigation. We take Jesus at His word because He is truth (John 14:6). He came into the world to testify to the truth (John 18:37), and the words that He speaks are spirit and life (John 6:63). Jesus cannot lie or deceive us.
2. In John 6:51-58, He says “I am the living bread which has come down from heaven’ Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world. “I am” indicates who you are. So, by using the word “I am” Jesus makes a personal claim that the bread He raises is He, whole and entire.
3. That we do not see the bread change into flesh, does not mean it is not true. This is beyond the human level of reasoning. This is really what the Jews also failed to understand.
John 6:51-58 reports that they were even very sad to understand this and they started arguing among themselves, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’.
This is also how many Christians fail to understand this mystery. Even some Catholics like the Jews ask “how can the sacred species be the body and blood of Jesus Christ and some do not even believe in it.
This is one of the importance of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ that we celebrate today. Through this, we learn that the sacred species are not ordinary as we see them.
Many people receive the Eucharist because others are receiving, hence forgetting the true worth of having the body of the divine in us.
In John 6:55, He says “For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink”. That means the food is real. The food is not ordinary. Psalm 78:25 while referring to the manna calls it the food of the angels.
4. In Acts 2:42, 46, It was reported that the apostles in a spirit of communion continued the tradition, Jesus handed over them. In 1 Corinthians 11:24-25, Paul affirmed that He met this tradition and Jesus requested that this should be done in remembrance of Him.”
5. The blood of Jesus sanctifies us and cleanses our souls. The second reading makes reference to the importance of sacrifices of blood in Jewish traditions.
At that time, the blood of goats and bulls are sprinkled on those who may incur defilement through sin and contact. Through this sprinkling, they restore their holiness.
This, in essence, prefigures the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross whose blood cleanses us from sins which is much more effective than the blood of goats.
Therefore, when we celebrate the Holy Mass, we also commemorate the sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus on the cross. This shows the reason the Holy mass is extremely powerful. Because, at the altar, the highest sacrifice is done.
The Eucharistic Miracles.
God has also used some certain experiences in history to let us know that Jesus is truly, wholly and entirely present in the Holy Eucharist. There are many such miracles but we will limit ourselves to two.
The Miracle of Amsterdam, Holland — 1345.
In 1345, a man who was a devout Catholic became very ill. He told his family he would like to receive Holy Viaticum.
The family notified the pastor of this. The priest, after administering the sacrament left. The man vomited and the family threw the contents in the fire in the sick room.
Early the next morning, one of the women went to rake the fire and she noticed in the middle of the grate, the Blessed Sacrament in the form of a host. A light surrounded it. The woman became upset and immediately put her hand in the fire to rescue the host.
This she did without any ill effects to herself. She did not burn her hand. The woman was surprised to find the host was cold! She immediately called in a neighbour and asked her to take the Sacred Host to her home.
The neighbour took a clean cloth, placed the host on it and locked it in a box. She then took it home. When the husband of the woman who found the host heard what had taken place, he requested to see it.
He tried to lift it off the white cloth it rested on, but the Sacred Particle resisted as if to say it did not want to be touched by this man’s hands.
A priest was then summoned who took the host and placed it in a pyx. When he went to wash the cloth which held the Blessed Sacrament and returned it to the original box, he noticed the pyx was upset and the host was gone!
ii) Miracle of the Mule.
One day, a heretic told Anthony that he would believe that Christ was truly present in the Eucharist only if his mule bowed down to it.
They established that the test should take place in three days. The heretic starved his mule for the next three days. When the appointed time had arrived, Anthony stood off to one side with the consecrated host in his hands, while the heretic stood to the other holding some fodder for the mule to eat.
The mule, ignoring its extreme hunger, went before the Eucharist and knelt to adore the Blessed Sacrament.
1.To show us how much He loves us, Jesus left for us, food to nourish our souls. Through this food, we eat eternal life. Through this food, Jesus gives us life and constantly transforms our souls.
When we receive the Holy Communion with a pure heart, we constantly begin to transform. In John 6:51-58, He tells the Jews “In all truth, I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you”.
Let us not forget that everything we eat in one way or another affects us. And the food works according to its nutritious value. So, let us always appreciate the gift of the Eucharist.
The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ simply points to the fact that at the altar, what we eat is divine and this heavenly food transforms us.
Hence, the body of Jesus continually transforms us, because the source is divine. So the church through the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ teaches us that by receiving the body and blood of Jesus we are filled with the power, life of the divine and source of transformation.
2.We are like earthly wayfarers. We are like people on a journey. Just as the people of old ate bread and were sustained, the body of Jesus sustains our journey beyond the earthly realm. The Eucharist fills our hearts with the graces that we need to succeed on earth and conquer every temptation.
Jesus says “anyone who does eat my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person on the last day. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:51-57).
3. As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, we celebrate the source of sanctifying graces, spiritual life, spiritual strength and power. By the Eucharist, we share in the life-giving graces of this food. Through it, Jesus comes to us and makes a home.
4. In the first reading, we see how Moses ratifies their covenant with God by sprinkling the blood at the altar and then at the people.
He then says “this is the blood of the Covenant that the Lord has made with you, containing all these rules.’ Through this covenant, they become one with the Lord.
Therefore, as we eat the body and drink the blood of the Lord, we become one with Him. What it means is that through the Eucharist, we become one with the Lord. He says ‘Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him” (John 6:56).
Also In 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, Paul says” the cup, which we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ; and the loaf of bread which we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Therefore, through the Eucharist we share in the unity of one head, we become one with Christ.
4.If Jesus is a healer, the Eucharist can heal every infirmity because the Eucharist is Jesus. If Jesus can work great miracles while He was on earth, then His continual presence in the Blessed sacrament can still work great wonders.
The limit and the difference between then and now is our faith.
Today, many Christians only go to mass, but go for the sake of going. While some use the mass as an avenue to find new friends and read newspapers.
5.Today the sacredness of the species has been desecrated by us. Many people have lost the sense of the sacredness of the Eucharist species.
Many Christians receive Jesus without inward preparation. In 1 Cor 11;27-30. Paul says whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have died”.
Therefore, let us purify our hearts from sins before we receive the body of the Lord. Be at the mass on time and make sure you are there before the priest says “brethren let us acknowledge our sins and prepare ourselves to celebrate this sacred mystery”, to prepare for the Eucharistic celebration of the day.
May God help us to continually come close to Him. God bless you.
Happy Feast Day.