Sunday, June 10, 2012

Corpus Christi

Today is the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, or the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Why is so much attention given to the Body and Blood of Christ?  Well basically because Our Lord suffered and died for us.  He gave His Body and shed his blood so all can have the doors of Salvation opened to them.

Moreover, Christ emphasized the importance of His Salvific work on the Cross by leaving us the Holy Eucharist.  During the Last Supper, Our Lord took bread and wine, blessed it and distributed among the Apostles saying that they were His Body and Blood.  He instructed them to do this in His memory.  (Luke 22:7-20)  In other words, this meal was not a one time thing.  It has to continue.

Was Jesus joking around when He said that bread and wine were His Body and Blood?  The answer is no.  In John 6:22-69 Jesus gave a long talk about the "Bread of Life."  He goes on to say that the bread Moses gave wasn't the "True Bread."  The people asked Him for this "Bread of Life" and He then makes the radical statement that HE is the "Bread of Life" and the "True Bread from Heaven."  The people began to murmur among themselves because they knew Jesus was the son of Joseph, and not to mention that His words were a bit strange and in today's world would be seen as psychotic.

However, it gets "stranger..."  Jesus continues saying that one has to eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have eternal life.  This is when the people really had enough.  Many walked out on Him thinking He was a lunatic.  Jesus then turns to His disciples and asks them if they will leave as well.  Peter replies saying that they can't go anywhere else because Jesus had the words of eternal life.  Peter is always the first to speak up or to lead, this shows why the Pope is the first bishop among all bishops of the world - but that is another blog (spoiler alert).  

Moreover, something interesting happens here in regards to how serious Jesus was about eating His flesh and drinking His blood.  Many of our separated brethren believe the Holy Eucharist is a symbol and not literally Christ's Body Blood Soul and Divinity.  However, when people started abandoning Jesus for saying that one has to eat His flesh and drink His blood, Jesus didn't run in front of them and say "hey, wait a minute, I was joking." Instead, Jesus let them go.  This shows that He was very serious about His flesh and blood being actual things that someone has to consume.  In 1 Cor 10:16  St. Paul reminds the people that the bread and wine are the Lord's Body and Blood.  

Why bread and wine?  In Genesis 14:18 we read about Melchizedek - priest of God and king of Salem- giving Abram bread and wine.  He then blesses Abram.  Jesus uses bread and wine to make the connection to the Old covenant and to show that He is the True Priest who offers the True Sacrifice - Himself.  

Bread is a food that is delicious.  It has a lot of carbohydrates which in turn gives a lot of energy to the body.  It is a food that is easy to make, but does a lot to appease hunger and give nutrients.  Then there is wine.  It is used to party with.  It is used as medicine and a disinfectant agent for wounds.  

Jesus as Bread and Wine does exactly that to our souls.  He appeases the hunger for God and nourishes the soul.  He brings our souls to jubilation by uniting with it when one receives Holy Communion.  He heals the soul from the harm sin has caused.

One may ask:  at Mass the Bread and Wine still look, taste, smell, feel like Bread and Wine, so how can it be the Body and Blood of Christ?  Well, God knows us well.  God designed the human body and mind.  He knows that human beings would cringe at the sight of eating raw meat and drinking blood.  How many times have we ourselves have gotten disgusted at looking at our own wounds?  It is not easy seeing blood and flesh in a traumatic form.

Much talk is going on recently about the "Zombie" in Miami.  People were disgusted at the news and the reality of how a human can even succumb to this evil cannibalistic act.  That being said,  God would not give us flesh and blood to eat and drink in the sense we are used to.  Rather, He would use matter that we are all familiar with and that we enjoy: food and drink.

At consecration, the Bread and Wine do not turn into a piece of meat and human blood with DNA, platlets, red/white cells etc - unless a Eucharistic Miracle has taken place which some times does occur.  The outside, or the accidents of the bread and wine remain the same, but what it is, or the essence changes.  Think of it this way:  We see leaves on trees.  During spring and summer they are green.  However, during fall they begin to change colors.  They turn red, orange, yellow and brown.  Now let's think:  which one is the REAL leaf?  At one point it was green, then red, then orange, then yellow and then brown.  The leaf changed colors, so is it the same leaf when it was green?  The answer is yes.  The outside or accidents of the leaf changed, but the essence or what it is remains the same.  The same with the Bread and Wine at Mass but in an opposite manner.  The outside remains the same (bread/wine) but the inside or what it is changes and becomes the Body Blood Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Similarly, we ourselves go through many changes.  Our bodies grow and change as we age; however, our temperament remains the same.

Corpus Christi is a day to reflect on this and thank Our Lord for remaining with us in hidden form under the appearance of Bread and Wine.  Many dioceses and parishes have processions on this day.  They process through the area with the Blessed Sacrament in a Monstrance or Ciborium.  This is an awesome event and I wish every parish and diocese did this.

I also urge you to visit our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and spent time with Him.  Many parishes have Eucharistic adoration for a period of time, sometimes perpetually.

There is nothing like getting lost in the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.  Go visit our Lord, share your life, your activities, your stresses, your desires, etc.  He is there waiting for you.






  

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