God Abides With Us, Through The Holy Eucharist
Readings: 1st: Deu 8: 2-3.14-16; Ps 147; 2nd: 2Cor 20: 16-17; Gos: Jn 6: 51-58
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Diocesis of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Today, we celebrate the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ or “Corpus Christi”. It originated in France in the mid thirteenth century, and was extended to the whole Church by Pope Urban IV in 1264. This feast focuses on two manifestations. First, on the Holy Eucharist as the body of Christ. Second, on the Church as the body of Christ.
In the study of Human Nutrition, the following statements are very true: “You are what you eat” and, “good food nourishes the body.” While the physical food we eat nourishes the body, the spiritual food nourishes our soul, prepares and preserves it for eternity. The Eucharist as the body and blood of Christ, not only makes the soul fit to dwell in a healthy body, but also makes it fit to appear before God.
In the first reading, Moses reminded his brethren of how God took good care of them by nourishing and sustaining them in the desert: “He humbled you…He fed you with manna…Do not forget the Lord your God, who in this waterless place brought you water and fed you with manna ….” Through this, God demonstrated his love and ability to sustain His chosen people physically and spiritually. In our time, God has given us the Eucharist for our spiritual nourishment. Hence, the Holy Eucharist is the “Sacrament of universal salvation.”
In the second reading Paul reminds us of the unity of the church through sharing in the one Body and Blood of Christ. During the Eucharistic celebration, people, communities, races, and nations are united as they share in the Body and Blood of Christ. Hence, at every Mass our attention is called to the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
In today’s gospel, Christ succinctly proclaimed: “I am the living bread. The bread that I shall give is my flesh…if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood; you will not have life in you.” It was on account of this truth that some of his disciples deserted him thinking: “This saying is hard…!” (Jn. 6:61). Also, the Romans (ca. 64-313 AD) accused Christians of cannibalism. As Christ said, His body is true food and his blood true wine. Though it is a typology of the Manna that the Israelites eats in the desert (and still died), it is different because as Christ says: “Whoever eats the body and drinks the blood of the Son of Man will never die.”
Hence, the Eucharist sustains our spiritual life, while our human food, and the Manna that the Israelites eat, sustain our physical and mortal life. It gives us the grace to feel forgiven and to be ready to forgive others. We go to Mass, not because we are worthy. Rather, because we are always in need of God’s love and mercy. These come through the Eucharist.
The Eucharist affects the life of our Christian communities. It is from the it that we receive our identity and mission as a church. Providentially, God made it available to us in order to nourish us on our spiritual journey. Hence, when administered to the sick, it is called “viaticum (food for the journey). Through it, God continues to abide with us.
Finally, the secondary focus of this solemnity is on the Body of Christ as it is present in the Church. The Church is called the Body of Christ because of the intimate communion which Jesus shares with his disciples. Christ expressed this unity by using the metaphor of a body, in which Himself is the head. This image helps to keep in focus both the unity and the diversity of the Church. So, during any Eucharistic celebration, Christ makes himself available to us, draws us closer to himself, and unites us with one another.
Peace be with you all!