Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
It is said that St. Mother Teresa started each day in prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament. She is also recorded as saying, “You are called to do more than say, ‘I love you Jesus.’ You are called to be your brother’s and sister’s keepers.” Her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament combined with her service of others embodies the spirit and purpose of today’s Solemnity, The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, or more commonly referred to, Corpus Christi Sunday.
For us Catholics, today’s Solemnity is significant in that it draws our focus towards two manifestations of the Body of Christ: the Holy Eucharist and the Church. Much like the previous Sunday’s solemnity, The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, we, the faithful, are called to celebrate one of the great mysteries of the Church. We are called to reflect upon and profess our sacred belief that the Body of Christ is present and real in both the Eucharist and in his Church.
Throughout history, God has called all of humanity to himself. It is his desire to make men holy and save them, but not just as individuals, but as a people, a people of God. A people who are bound and connected to one another. He created this bond through the establishment of a covenant. A covenant he made with a people whom he called.
In today’s first reading we heard how God established this covenant with his people through Moses (the law) and through blood, the blood of animals. This covenant was a pre-figure, a preparation for, the New Covenant, the eternal and perfect covenant instituted by Christ though his sacrifice upon the cross. This New Covenant, ratified in the blood of Christ, allows all of humanity, both Jew and Gentile, to become one race, not in the flesh, but rather, in Spirit.
As the people of God we perpetuate this mystery, this New Covenant, through the celebration of the Eucharist. As recorded in today’s Gospel, Jesus gave the supreme expression of his sacrifice for the salvation of men at the Lord’s Supper when he proclaimed, “This is my body which is given for you.” “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” He transformed this Last Supper with his disciples into the memorial of his voluntary sacrifice, which, in turn, has been perpetuated throughout the Age of the Church by his Apostles and their successors.
We acknowledge the physical and mystical presence of Christ in the Eucharist when we stand before the Host and profess, “Amen.” By our “Amen” we attest that the offering of bread and wine do indeed become, through the power of the Holy Spirit and by the words of Christ, the real and physical Body and Blood of Christ. We also attest, as the Catechism states, that those who have been nourished by the Body of Christ then also become the Body of Christ.
The mystical Body of Christ, the Church, are those who have been born of the Spirit and have been baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Through our profession of faith, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we then become the Church, the body of Christ. Our role as the Body of Christ is to then engage in his work; the mission to make disciples of all nations.
It is my fear that as our society has become more polarized and divided, that we, the Church, have allowed ourselves to mimic, or copy this attitude of division. We, as the Body of Christ, I fear, have succumbed to the lure of division and isolation and have, instead, turned our attention to the things which divide us, rather than the reality which unites us. This reality which unites us all, is that each and every one of us are in need of salvation. The salvation offered through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary.
On this day, this day of celebration, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, I challenge you to not only profess your faith with your “amen”, but that you also profess your faith in this mystery by your actions.
When you receive the Eucharist you are in fact allowing yourself to be transformed by that which you consume. You are not only professing your faith in the great mystery but you are also committing yourself to be an active participant in the missionary work of the Church. When you reach out to those who are suffering, to those who are hungry, sick, and imprisoned in doubt, fear, and shame you are in fact reaching out with the very hands of Jesus.
I ask you to reflect upon the example left to us by St. Mother Teresa. Her daily devotion to prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament manifested in her a daily commitment to be the Body of Christ to those whom she served. She embodied the reality that those who are nourished by the Body of Christ also become the Body of Christ. Become the Body of Christ for someone else today. Let them see in you this mystery…the mystery of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.