The Bread of Life
The Body and Blood of Christ B

Frank Enderle
Reproduced with Permission

The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ that we celebrate today is popularly known in many places as Corpus Christi which, in Latin, means Body of Christ. It is a celebration of our Catholic devotion and worship of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament. On this day, liturgy and popular piety are united in honor of the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. Today we give thanks to Our Lord in a special way for having remained in the Blessed Sacrament for us. We rejoice in having Him always so close to us.

For many centuries, the veneration of Jesus in the Sacrament has been expressed in our Church in many ways: in Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament, in processions, in prayers before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and in the genuflections that we should all make before the Tabernacle. All of these are true and pious acts of faith and adoration. Among these devotions and forms of worship is found the Solemnity of Corpus Christi that we are celebrating. It is a public act in which we give testimony of our faith in the Most Blessed Sacrament. For centuries this feast has been very dearly loved by the common people. Today, many Christians will be accompanying Jesus Christ in solemn processions and popular celebrations in different places around the world.

The First Reading today shows us the rites of the Covenant that God made with the Hebrew people in Moses’ time. After receiving the Ten Commandments, Moses offered a sacrifice of communion, an offering to the Lord of holocausts to seal the covenant. He then took the blood of the animals sacrificed and sprinkled first the altar and then the people saying, “This is the blood of the alliance that God has made with you.” In this way he showed God that the people were prepared to obey His commandments. In the Second Reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews tells us that Christ came to the world as the High Priest of the New Covenant. To seal the covenant, He did not use the blood of rams or heifers, He used His own blood. It is the Blood of Christ, offered to God the Father as a sacrifice without blemish, purifies us.

The Gospel Reading reminds us of what Jesus did during what today we know as the Last Supper. While they ate, Jesus took bread, pronounced the blessing, broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, “Take it, this is my body.” Afterwards He took the cup and saying the traditional Jewish thanksgiving prayer, He said, “This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, shed for all.” In each Holy Mass that is celebrated from that moment on, when Holy Communion is received, we Christians eat the Body and drink the Blood of Christ. Our Lord makes Himself present in a real way in the bread and wine consecrated by the priest. The food that the Eucharist gives us is the only food that can strengthen our souls. If we do not eat it, we will become spiritually weaker, just as our body weakens when we do not eat food. On one occasion, Jesus said to the Jews, “I assure you that if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and do not drink his blood you will not have life in you.” (John 6:53).

Brothers and sisters, life brings many difficulties. In the Holy Eucharist we find the sustenance that we need to better face the daily problems that life brings to each and every one of us. That is why, as Pope John Paul II said, “The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic worship. Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go to meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and open to making amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration never cease.” (Dominica cenae, 3)