Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ 

(Corpus Christi)

Deut 8: 2-3, 14-16   1 Cor 10: 16-17   John 6: 51-58

Corpus ChristiAs Jesus ascended to the Father His final words to the Apostles were “And know that I am with you always: yes, to the end of time” (Matt 28: 20).  That promise echoed in the ears of the apostles but they were to come to a true understanding of it with the help of the Holy Spirit given to them at Pentecost.  Jesus was to be with them and with His Church through His real Presence and through his caring of them and feeding them.

It is extraordinary to read through the Scriptures and find the number of times where hunger, eating and the revelation of God are connected.  In the 1st Reading of today’s Mass Moses speaks to the people: “He humbled you, He made you feel hunger, He fed you with manna which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to make you understand that we do not live on bread alone but on everything that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” The deprivations in the desert were used by God to sensitise the people to hunger for the Spirit and their total dependence on God.  As Elijah searched for God in the wilderness, God constantly told him to ‘go and eat’ but he failed to find food.  He looked for God to appear in dramatic events like great winds, earthquakes or fire.  God’s revelation came in the simplicity of a silent, gentle breeze.  God is to be found in ordinary, every-day things!

In the New Testament too, God is revealed and connected with our basic need of food.  In the first of his great miracles Jesus uses bread and fish to feed the crowds and to reveal his divine presence.  When he raises to life 

the daughter of Jairus, he instructs them to give her something to eat: Jesus eats at the home of Martha and Mary; He eats with tax collectors and sinners.  When the time comes to leave his disciples He wishes to continue his care of them, to nourish them, feed them and so He gives them Himself as food and drink.  By consuming this food we are given life and this life is the Life of Christ Himself.  We grow into Him, we become part of Him and we become Christ’s Life, Corpus Christi.

The other mystery which we celebrate today is that Jesus remains present to us through the Sacrament of his Body and Blood, the Sacrament of the Altar. When the two disciples, who had walked with Our Lord to Emmaus, looked back afterwards at their experience, they must have realised that never again could they think of Jesus as being absent from their lives.  The Risen Lord is always present - in the Upper Room, on the road to Emmaus, beside the Sea of Galilee, on Mount Olivet, everywhere. For us too, the Lord is always present.  Our understanding of His presence is made clear and verified in a special way by the sacramental Real Presence, Body and Blood, in our tabernacles.

Bishop James Walsh, a Maryknoll missionary (1891-1981), spent twelve years in a communist prison in China.  His prayer life was sustained by a daily hour before the Blessed Sacrament.  In a communist prison?! The nearest church he knew of was in Japan, so, each day he faced westward towards Japan for an hour of Eucharistic prayer.  What difference did a thousand miles make?  In the life of Faith a thousand miles is no greater than a thousand millimetres. 

We believe and we celebrate that Jesus is really present in the tabernacle and that He remains present to us at all times, everywhere.