Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. Two reasons why we celebrate the feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus:
- For us to give thanks to God for the permanent and continuing presence of Christ with us in the Eucharist.
- It is an opportunity for us to seek a better understanding of the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Jesus so that we more deeply appreciate and live the mystery of the Holy Eucharist.
Before His death and eventually His ascension to the Father, Jesus had a problem:
First, He needs to be with the Father and at the same time wanted to be with us.
And secondly, that we may have life and have it to the full. He tells us in today’s Gospel: Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no eternal life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life and I will raise them on the last day (John 6:53-54).
So He instituted the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist so that he can be with us until the end of time (Mt. 28:20) and give us life here and hereafter.
The Jews that Jesus was addressing in the gospel of John (Chapter 6) had gathered to ask Him for more bread. Instead, Jesus promised to give them spiritual bread and spiritual blood. But their materialistic mentality could not understand what this spiritual food Jesus was offering them. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat? (v. 52). But Jesus reaffirms saying, “My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink (v 55). The subsequent verses would tell us that they started to distance themselves from Jesus. They could not accept that hard teaching, because of their materialistic mentality. The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Isn’t it cannibalism?” Then many of his disciples could not accept this hard teaching. As a result, they no longer accompanied Him.
Take note that Jesus did not call them back and persuade them not to recede because all of what He was saying about the flesh and the blood were mere symbolism. He meant it to be His real flesh and His real blood. He then turns to the twelve and said, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life (Jn 6:67-69).
That same problem is still with us today. Many still would not understand and believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is true food and true drink but at the same time the real flesh and blood of Jesus. This is not an invention of the Church. It was Jesus himself who made it so.
If we are truly convinced that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, then our reception of His body during communion must transform our lives into Christ. The statement that “we become what we eat” should be more than true in the Eucharistic experience. The hands that you use to receive the body of Jesus, are they not the same hands that hurt people, the hands that refuse to give? The tongue, is it not the tongue that destroys the good name of others?
Let us today approach the Eucharist with a livelier faith in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and experience God’s transforming love.