The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
1st Reading - Genesis 14: 18-20
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 110: 1, 2, 3, 4
2nd Reading – 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26
Sequence Lauda Sion
Gospel – Luke 9: 11b-17
In 1208, an Augustinian nun from Belgium named Juliana had a vision of a lunar disk surrounded by rays of dazzling white light. One side of the disk appeared dark, and in her vision, she heard God tell her the darkness represented the fact that there wasn’t a feast on the calendar to honor the Blessed Sacrament. She told her bishop of this vision, and the feast originated in 1246. When her friend became Pope Urban IV in 1264, he extended the feast of Corpus Christi to the universal church. In his proclamation, he explained the balanced theology of Eucharist as both sacrifice and meal.
Is it really any wonder that Jesus would choose eating and drinking to remember Him? A meal is something we can all relate to; it’s a ritual we all understand at varying levels. In Genesis, we hear of bread and wine used to celebrate God’s victory over His enemies. In Isaiah, "the glorious day of the Lord" was envisioned as a great banquet with rich foods and overflowing goblets. We make present again the institution of the Eucharist when we celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper held on Holy Thursday during the Triduum. But, because of the close relation of Holy Thursday to the solemnity of Good Friday, and because the teaching and our understanding of the Eucharist is so important, The Body and Blood of Christ has its own feast day separate from the events of Holy Week.
It would seem natural to use this feast day to discuss the Eucharist and the real presence of the Body and Blood of Christ. I once heard a homily by Msgr. Ivo Rocha from Tracy. Msgr. Rocha discussed how many symbols we use in our lives. Particularly for us as Catholics, symbols play a huge role in our understanding and comprehension of our faith. The Mass was in Portuguese, and I'm sure I didn't catch all of what he was saying, but from what I understood, he cautioned us to be aware that symbols are just that; symbolic of what they represent. If you hold a dove in your hand, you hold a SYMBOL of the Holy Spirit, not the Holy Spirit itself. The Holy Spirit cannot be held or contained, it’s all around us. And, because it was in Portuguese, my mind began to wander, and I thought about other symbols we have in our church; statues, crowns, incense and so forth.
There is one exception to this guideline; the Holy Eucharist. The precious blood and precious body of Christ, consecrated on the altar at Mass, truly IS what it says it is. It is not symbolic. It is. Even as significant as this understanding is, it is something that many of us will struggle with all of our lives. I think the message of this gospel is a call to action. Jesus loved us so much that He offered His whole self; Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Jesus is concerned with the totality of each of us as well; emotionally, spiritually and physically.
This gospel read on this Sunday is particularly essential. The story of the loaves and fishes is in all four gospels. In fact, it is the only one of Jesus’ miracles recorded in all four gospels. His miracle that day with the loaves and fishes could have been as simple as instilling a feeling of satisfaction among those who were present. He’s God after all. Anything is possible. But, Jesus put the responsibility of feeding the hungry people on the disciples. He said, “You do it.”
Think of the four “Eucharistic” verbs used here and at the Last Supper: Take, bless, break and give. Our simple Christian Instruction Manual; Take, bless, break and give. Jesus did it with fish and bread at this meal; with bread and wine at the Last Supper, and He even did it with His life. He took the risk of coming in human form. Jesus blessed and thanked God for all He was and all He had. No one would argue that He was broken with the suffering He endured during His passion. And He gave us the ultimate gift, His life for our freedom from sin.
Take, bless, break and give. And what does he call us to do… take, bless, break and give. What do we have to offer? What is our bread?
We may have the bread of patience…
We may have the bread of tolerance…
We may have the bread of monetary gifts…
We may have the bread of knowledge……
We may have the bread of love…
Take, bless, break and give. Each one of us must use these basic instructions to use the gifts and talents for God’s glory.
The first step is to acknowledge our gift. TAKE
The second is to recognize that it comes from God and thank him for it. BLESS
The third is to fine tune it, perfect it to the best of our abilities. BREAK
And finally, the fourth, to GIVE it away.
When we do this, we truly become Eucharist for each other. And the beauty of all of this, if we ask, Jesus will even do it FOR us. WHATEVER we have to offer, if we bring it to Jesus, He will bless it, break it and share it with others through us. After all, we must always remember, we are what we eat.
In basic human terms, what does bread symbolize to you? What does wine symbolize to you?
How can bread and wine symbolize who Jesus is and what He has done for us?
What pictures, phrases, and experiences come to mind with the image of Jesus handing you bread?
Share your reactions and responses to the gospel passage with someone.
How does the feeding of the 5,000 relate to the Body and Blood of Jesus?