Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)
As the day was drawing to a close, the Twelve approached Jesus and said, “Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.” He said to them, “Give them some food yourselves.”
Before the Lord was taken up into heaven, He made a promise to His disciples. He said, “I will be with you till the end of time.” Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ; that is, the Eucharist, the manner in which our Lord keeps His promise…till the end of time.
I will be with you till the end of time. I’m confident that when Christ said these words He didn’t say them to give His men a false sense of security. No. He said them because He meant them; and His Apostles breathed a great sigh of relief. But how would He do it? How would the Lord make himself physically present? Answer: Through the Eucharist.
Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you. In no way, shape or form did the Lord intend for us to take His (these) words as “symbolically” or “metaphorically” true. No. He meant what He said. In fact, He repeated Himself three times: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them” (John 6:54-56).
It is more than obvious what Christ meant. It’s ridiculously clear what He meant! The Lord wants us to take His word as they are: literally, objectively, and also physically (the Word became flesh) true. Christ will be with us literally, objectively and physically.
Now let’s not forget something, please. Let’s not forget that the Jews were surrounded by pagan religions, and that they were constantly purifying themselves and their religion from any foreign ideas or idols. It wasn’t easy work, for they were surrounded by the most disgusting people in the world who had some of the craziest religious practices that included such things as cannibalism and vampirism (Yes, vampirism! And well before it was made fashionable by movies such as “Twilight”)!
The Lord would never have spoken these words to His audience to intentionally mislead them. Nor would He have put His very own Apostles to the test by repeatedly using confusing pagan concepts! No! Not at all! God tells the truth. It is the devil that distorts the truth. Cannibalism, vampirism, and human sacrifices from the valley of Gehenna in Canaan are distortions of God’s loving plan for us! The priests of the order of Melchizedek were a beautiful preparation for the arrival of Moses and the Pascal meal, which was the final preparation for the Lord’s Supper, where bread and wine would turn into the Body and Blood of the Lamb of God.
How do you worship Him? Once upon a time, and in the desert, the Jews began to worship God their own way. The Lord was not pleased with them. So, He instructed them as to how they should worship Him. Jesus instructed His Apostles how they should worship Him: “Take this all of you and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant…Do this in memory of me.”
Do this in memory of me. How often do I hear people tell me that the Church is too ritualistic? Well, I hate to break it to them, but the truth is: the Church isn’t any more ritualistic than they are! Almost everything we do is ritualistic. From the time we wake up to the time we go to bed, how we brush our teeth, take a shower, put on our clothes and the times we eat are a ritual!
Let’s be honest. We want to worship God “our way,” which is another way of saying, “I want to worship God in a way that makes me feel good. Who cares about how God feels!”
The only thing God feels is pity for us.
Corpus Christi is not a scandal of faith; it is the rock of our faith! Many disciples returned to their former way of life when they heard these hard sayings from the Lord.
Give them some food yourselves. We think we can solve the world’s problems. We can’t. But unfortunately, we keep overselling ourselves and under delivering to others. All we have are “five loaves” and “two fish.” What good is that? Well maybe it’s a good start. Yes. But it’s hardly enough to put a dent into the world’s problems. Only the Lord can give us what we truly desire: His presence in the world and food that will never perish.
Do you want to leave too? Many did. Many have. So let us keep in our minds and hearts Peter’s response to that very question: “Lord, where are we to go? Only you have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Amen to that!