Flesh and Blood
Corpus Christi Sunday

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

In my younger days, I regularly visited a fitness gym. The owner was a devoted Catholic and he offered me free use of his facilities as well as free tutoring. In our first session he was forthright in saying, “Don’t mind the sweat. Here everybody sweats.” True enough, men and women around me were working out a sweat in many ways. Or perhaps we should delicately distinguish. The men were perspiring and the ladies were glistening.

The gym is not the only place where one directly experiences the bodies of humanity. In countries like ours, all one needs to do is go to the marketplace and rub elbows with laborers, housewives, vendors, and farmers. Here one sees, touches, and smells flesh and blood. The same with hospitals, especially crowded ones where the poor and the sick are brought. Our journalists refer to these as “Monalisa” hospitals. Remember the lyrics of the song? “ Many (dreams) have been brought to your doorstep. And they lie there, and they die there.”

Action starter: Be in touch with the Body of Christ.

What I really want to say is that dealing with flesh and blood is a messy business. Bodies sweat, smell, and bleed. God chose to join messy humanity. God became flesh and blood in Jesus Christ. It is against this reality that Gnostic heresies arose in the early period of the Church. It went against reason that an orderly and rational God who is Mind, Word and Wisdom would become flesh and blood.

The Feast of Corpus Christi affirms this central mystery of Christianity. The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us. This explains the involvement of Jesus’ disciples in the messy affairs of the world. Camillus de Lellis, wearing his big red cross brought some humanity to the battlefield. Francis of Assisi embraced the leper. Teresa of Calcutta comforted the dying. Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac took care of the orphans. Don Bosco cared for juvenile delinquents. That is why we call them saints. They embodied in their own lives the love of God for humanity.

The saints realize that every person is a child of God. Beneath the sweat and blood and the flesh and tears lies hidden the spark of divinity.

Isn’t Jesus’ choice of bread and wined consistent with this whole mystery of incarnation? “Do this in memory of me”. The celebration of the Eucharist is an action in memory of Jesus. Eating around a table is an ordinary action. Bread and wine are everyday realities. In the celebration of the Eucharist, bread and wine become the Body and Blood of the Lord. Again, Jesus divinized the ordinary.

As we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi, let us appreciate its wider meaning. Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, let us be reminded of God’s love for us. God loves us, though we may be ravaged by sin and illness -- sweaty, smelly, and sinful as we are. Because of His great love, lowly flesh and blood becomes Body of Christ. It is not just bread and wine that becomes body and blood. We are the Body of Christ.