Sem. Resty M. Castillo
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (or Corpus Christi) follows one week after the celebration of the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. This week’s solemnity reminds us of the wonderful gift of God himself through Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Today’s gospel is very rich in meaning and we can reflect on two important focal points which the Church places before us: first, the Eucharist is a source of spiritual nourishment which Christ gives us and second, the Church is the Body of Christ.
First, the Eucharist is an important source of our spiritual nourishment. In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses reminded the people of how God fed them with manna, a food unknown to them, and to tell them that people do not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. In the gospel for today, Jesus revealed this again to the Jews by telling them that he is the bread that came down from heaven unlike the manna that served only the temporal needs and still people died. However, Jesus is giving himself as the bread that brings life eternal.
This statement of Jesus shocked many of the Jews because they did not understand what it means to eat his flesh and drink his blood. It sounded taboo to them. Even some of his disciples cannot understand and this made them to decide to walk away. And for the Jews, blood is so sacred because they believe it is the source of life. Perhaps in speaking this way, Jesus speaks this way, Jesus is not only saying that he is the source of life, but that he is the Life itself. In John’s gospel, we read many of the self-revelations of Jesus using the formula “I am.” One of these is during the raising of Lazarus when Jesus said to Martha: “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me will have eternal life.” Martha confesses her faith in him by saying, “I do believe that you are Christ”.
In today’s gospel the Lord makes a promise that he will raise on the last day also those who eat his flesh and drink his blood. At the last supper, Jesus entrusted the Eucharist to the community of his disciples to remind the world of his abiding presence. Yet is more than a remembering but a continuous offering of Jesus in the bread and wine. We come always to the Eucharist to partake in the breaking of the word and the breaking of the bread which nourish our spirit on the journey to eternity.
Secondly, the Church IS the body of Christ. In the second reading, St. Paul says to the Corinthians, “we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.” This reminds us that we, as the church, are the living body of Jesus. We are not just partaking of Jesus but we live Christ in our lives. Christ lives in us and remains in us, and this is what he promised to those who eat his flesh and drink his blood.
As Christ remains with us in the sacrament of his body and blood, we become also like him: ready to be broken and shared. St. Augustine said it this way: “Become what we eat.” God has given us the grace to integrate totally into our being the very person of Christ, a person for others and to be one community of Christ. In the breaking of the bread, the followers of Christ experience the presence of the risen Lord as a living reality, uniting into one body the faithful who gather in his name.
In this way, we are challenged to break all divisions and hatred. We remember during the last supper, upon the institution of the Eucharist, the Lord experienced betrayals of his friends. However, Jesus called both sinners and saints into one community leading into reconciliation and communion. The celebration of Corpus Christi, therefore, invites us to the same communion, with a sense of togetherness, a sharing with and caring for each member of the body of Christ, the community of believers.
This communion reflects the image of the Trinity, which we celebrated last week. We believe that the Trinity is a community of unending sharing of love for each other and for the world. God wants the Church to participate in this unending sharing of love by sending Jesus to us. As he remains with us in sacramental signs, we also called to remain in the community of the Trinity. Jesus and his Father shared their Spirit with us, so that we Christians could bring light amid darkness; be bearers of truth and justice in the midst confusion and injustice; and, most of all, hope and life in the world full of despair and death.
Today, as we experience much division because of political or even religious ideologies, let us come together as one body of Christ to initiate healing the wounds of differences. As we pray together, let us lend our hands in care for those in need, regardless of beliefs, color or race. And may the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus strengthens us, perfect our love and keep our faith burning amidst fear brought by man- made destruction against humanity. Let us make Jesus live and reign in the world through our lives.