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June 19, 2022: Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ - Corpus Christi - Associate Pastor’s Corner

“Sight has fail'd, nor thought conceives, but a dauntless faith believes, resting on a pow'r divine. Here beneath these signs are hidden priceless things to sense forbidden; signs, not things are all we see.” –Lauda Sion

In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” Yikes!  Jesus came to give us a share in the eternal life of God in heaven, but we can’t have this life unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood.  Well, maybe he is speaking metaphorically, you know, symbolically; surely, he can’t mean that his body and blood are really food and drink?  Jesus’s answer in John 6:55 is startlingly literal and unambiguous: “My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”  Jesus said it, and so we believe it.

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, and we remember God’s greatest gift to us, his Son, who gave up his life for us on the cross.  But we do much more than just remember this gift; we receive Him, we share in Him, and we are filled with this gift.  Christ lives in us and we live in him, because we consume his living Body and Blood in Holy Communion.

Unlike manna, which did not grant immortality to the Israelites as they wandered the desert, whoever eats this bread will live forever.  The Eucharist is also different from manna in another way: manna might have looked strange, but in the end, it was just regular food, something that could be eaten like bread.  But with the Eucharist it is the other way round: it looks just like bread, but it is not regular food; for who regularly eats human flesh and blood?  This is why I love depictions of the crucifixion like the one above that show angels catching Jesus’ Blood in chalices.  It reminds us that at mass the chalice really and truly contains blood of Jesus, not wine. 

Bread and wine are all we see, bread and wine are all we smell, bread and wine are all we taste and feel, so it is even more important to remember not only what, or rather who, we receive, but also why we have been given this gift. 

Christ’s humanity (his body, blood, and his human soul) is the instrument of our salvation, the tool that God has chosen by which we are saved, and Holy Communion is the way that God uses this tool to give His life to us. 

Can there be anything more important in our lives than the Eucharist?  No.  As creatures, nothing is more important than Jesus, our creator and our savior.  As sinners, nothing is more important than He who wipes our sins away.  So how do we reflect this importance? 

Just as a bride prepares to encounter her bridegroom by beautifying her body, prepare yourself to encounter Jesus by beautifying your soul in Confession.  Take a few minutes before Mass to recall what we are about to do.  Take advantage of Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist to grow in communion with Him.  Invite Him into your life, ask Him to give you strength throughout the day, much as a hearty breakfast gives our bodies energy.  Finally, rest in the joy of being in the intimate presence of the One you love, the One who loves you.

                           -Fr. Christopher Wetzel

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