Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a; Ps. 147:2-13, 14-15, 19-20 1 Cor. 10:16-17, John 6:51-58
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."
Today we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ, a feast that has been commemorated by the Church since the 13th century. The scriptures chosen for this feast, invite us to remember God’s generosity and faithfulness to the Jewish people and to us. In response, we are asked to imitate that generosity in service to all who make up the Body of Christ.
In the first reading from Deuteronomy, Moses commanded the people to remember, and not forget, that all during their wandering in the desert God remained with them, provided food for their journey, put up with their grumbling, and led them safely to the Promised Land.
What Moses and the Israelites did not know, however, was that the food, the manna given to them in the desert, was a precursor of the Eucharist which unites us to Christ and to one another.
In the second reading Paul reminds the Corinthians that, “We though many are one body”. It is through our participation in the Eucharistic celebration, that we become one. We form a new kind of community, one which links us to our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world.
“Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,” Jesus tells the Jews in today’s gospel, “Whoever eats this bread will live forever.” His listeners knew the story of the Exodus and took His words literally. He was offering them the bread of new life, the opportunity to follow him through death to eternal life. But, as they often did, they missed the message.
In The Holy Thursday Revolution, the late philosopher, Beatrice Bruteau, reflected on Jesus’ gift of the Eucharist. “The Life of God, Creator, gives life to Christ, the Redeemer, Who gives life to us through the Eucharist, “she wrote. It is this Eucharistic life that unites us and motivates us to help bring about the reign of God.
In her book, Bruteau presented a vision of a world moving from economic and military domination to one of equality and sharing. She dared to offer hope for the future based on a revolution begun two thousand years ago with the spiritual power to make all things new. How wonderful it would have been if Jesus’ listeners had been able to understand that a revolution was coming.
Unlike them, we must not miss the message. The gift of Eucharist binds us not only to Christ, but to one another. It invites us to community with Him and with each other so that we might bring about the vision, the revolution that Jesus set in motion.
The gift of Eucharist places an obligation on each of us. It calls on us to respond in some way to the present day hungers experienced in our world. Just as God did not ignore the hunger of the Israelites in the desert, we cannot ignore the hungers of those who are one with us in the Body of Christ. Whether that hunger is for food, for community, for justice, or for peace, we must try to address it in whatever way we can.
We live in a world that is becoming more and more polarized, a world where people and nations are being driven further apart rather than closer together. Government policies seem to favor the ‘haves’ over the ‘ have nots’ and foster the triumph of ‘power over’ rather than ‘power with’, resulting in great suffering for many members of the Body of Christ. Last month, in his prayer at Fatima, Pope Francis challenged all of us to embrace a new vision, a vision wherein humanity might have the courage to choose a ‘culture of encounter’ over a ‘culture of conflict’. Will you embrace that vision? Will you do what you can to foster unity among the diverse members of the Body of Christ, your neighbors, refugees, the undocumented? If you do that, you will help bring about a spiritual revolution that will result in the oneness to which the Eucharist calls us.
Let us pray.
Loving God, help us to recognize the hungers experienced by the members of your Body. Give us the courage to advocate for a revolution, not one based on conflict, but one that is grounded in the teachings of Christ. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Sister Michaela Connolly, OP