The Most Gracious Gift
The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ: Corpus Christi Sunday
[Ex 24:3-8. Ps 116:12-13, 15-16, 17-18. Heb 9:11-15. Mk 14:12-16, 22-26.]
The people told Moses, “We will do everything that the Lord has told us.” And so Moses makes an altar and splashes the blood of the sacrifice over the altar. Moses reads the covenant again to the people, and when they agree,
Moses then sprinkles them with the blood of the sacrifice!
It wasn’t with the blood of animals that Christ sealed the New Covenant – it was with his own blood! A death took place, a sacrifice took place to end all blood sacrifices.
On Corpus Christi Sunday we celebrate the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
We celebrate this day with a special emphasis on the gift of Jesus Christ, the Holy Eucharist.
It is a gift of real presence: His body, blood, soul, and divinity really with us.
Eucharist is the great sacrament, the center of our worship – the source and summit,
and yet it is also a great mystery.
It is the gracious meal, the glorious and perfect evening sacrifice that brought us the possibility of salvation.
We cannot possibly hope even to begin to understand the great mystery of this gift of the Eucharist until we understand how to accept it graciously.
If we look back to the first meal, the little fruit snack that Adam and Eve ate, we see that it wasn’t offered!
It was taken – it was grasped at behind the back of God.
It brought a sad downfall. Adam and Eve had overreached.
The Eucharist, on the other hand is both meal and gift.
It is a gift of God who loved us so much that he walked among us as the Word Made Flesh.
It is also the sacrifice of the New Covenant – that perfect sacrifice that bought us back from
the sin of Adam and Eve and offered us a relationship with God that is beyond our imaginations! Not just deliverance from enemies, but redemption – by this sacrifice, God has re-deemed us – he has “deemed us again” to be worthy of his eternal friendship.
But the eating and drinking, what is that all about?
When we eat and drink at our meals, we consume food and drink. Our bodies process that food and it gives us nourishment.
We possess the food, and it becomes part of our body—part of us!
But when we approach the Eucharist, the real presence of Jesus Christ, we do so only one way: as people who receive the gift.
And if we receive this gift, this share in the divine life, we don’t possess it. It – the divine life – possess us!
Jesus took bread and broke it – before he declared “this is my body.”
He also said to do this in remembrance of Him.
That is a special kind of remembrance. It is called an anamnesis: a making present – a transferring of heavenly realities to the physical world.
It is a re-membering—a bringing into true and real presence at the Mass.
That’s what we mean when we say that the Mass as heaven on earth—and this is exactly what goes on—time and eternity meet when Jesus is present on the altar.
It means for us is that although we see what looks like bread and wine, bread and wine are no longer present. Jesus is present!
Humble bread, blessed and broken to bless a humble people who are visited by God!
If we believe that, and Jesus did say it: and Jesus is the Truth, we are blessed indeed.
But the Eucharist always points us forward – the bread of life, the sup of salvation – they point us forward.
We are dismissed at the end of the Mass — but not to go back to the cubbyholes of our own little lives.
We are given the Lord’s great commission to go and love as He loves us - with the love that is the greatest love.
We are to become what we eat, to allow the gracious gift to possess us and to transform us so that we might help bring forth the kingdom of God.
There is an inscription in the Church in the holy land where Jesus was to have performed the miracle of multiplication of loaves and fishes, that miraculous Eucharistic sign of feeding His people.
The sign says this:
“Love is like five loaves and two fish, always too little until you start giving it away.”
When you leave Mass, be pointed forward: take Jesus truly present within you out to the world.
Give His love away, and you will find that Corpus Christi – the body of Christ, has empowered, and strengthened, and has blessed you… and miracle of miracles, even when you give that love away, you will find that you still have His abundant love!