The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Antiphon: “The Lord fed His people with the finest wheat and honey; their hunger was satisfied (Psalm 80:17)."

Gospel excerpt: “Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever (John 6:57-58).”

Where do we begin on this Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ? Is there anything we can comprehend about Jesus’ complete gift of Himself to us? Deep, mind-spinning questions often flood our minds when we ponder the Mystery of Christ’s Body and Blood even momentarily. We get ‘stuck’ on questions such as “How can this be (remember somebody else asking this question)?” How can can I comprehend and explain transubstantiation? If this is true, why do so few participate in the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist? Since the Holy Eucharist is a mystery and therefore I will never understand completely, why waste time talking and reading about this?

The questions are not necessarily bad or wrong, just misdirected. Theological questions are good provided they keep us responding to the Living, Loving God with lives that give evidence of charity and service. The difficulty is that many of our questions want ‘to figure things out’ and once we ‘think’ we have figured things out, we stop searching for meaning because we think we have mastered the mystery of the unknown.

Interestingly enough, Church’s rich heritage of liturgical music offers us an answer from the experience of worship and devotion. Our repertoire of sacred chant and music stirs the mind and heart, creating an environment ready to receive and to cooperate with the abundance of life and love the Holy Spirit showers upon us daily. Take, for example, the hymn Ave verum corpus. Even though historians debate the author, (some say Saint Thomas Aquinas, others Pope Innocent III, IV or perhaps even V), the text offers some very concrete reflections appropriate for today’s Solemnity.

“Ave, verum corpus natum de Maria Virgine,” - Hail, true body born of the Virgin Mary: Jesus is a real Person, period. He is not a myth. He is not a fictitious person of an imaginary story. Even before pondering His Presence in the Most Holy Eucharist, we have to ask ourselves, ‘do I (and we as a community of faith) believe that Jesus Christ is a real Person Who once lived among us at a particular time and in a particular place?’ Do I believe this Person preached and lived a new way of life called the Kingdom of God that called one to daily conversion and belief?

“Vere passum immolatum in Cruce pro homine,” - Who truly suffered, sacrificed on the Cross for man: Jesus’ message of Kingdom living cost Him His human life as an innocent victim. His life among us was eminently self-less. Do I (and we as a community of faith) live sacrificially or is life on my terms? Do I project and live an attitude of entitlement? Do I charitably serve the needs of others as Jesus did in His ministry?

“Cujus latus perforatum unda fluxit et sanguine,” - Whose pierced side overflowed with water and blood: Even in death, Jesus gives life and blesses us with His Presence: water (the Gift of Baptism) and blood (the Gift of the Most Holy Eucharist). Do I recognize and reverence His Presence in the people around me?

“Esto nobis praegustatum in mortis examine.” - Be for us a foretaste in the test of death: Jesus teaches with His life that there is more to life than what we see around us. The goodness of life in the here-and-now is temporary. We live fully in the present knowing that our lives are being drawn to an eternity of life and love. Hence, do I live with a view towards the eternity of life with Father, Son and Holy Spirit – OR – do “I want it all, and I want it now?” Do I assist others in helping them to live Jesus’ life?

In the end, this Solemn Day reminds us that the Gift of the Most Holy Eucharist is not a thing to be figured out, but a Person Who calls us as His Body to be in communion with Him as we joyfully, charitably and selflessly serve Him in one another.

Alternative Opening Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ,
we worship You living among us
in the Sacrament of Your Body and Blood.
May we offer to our Father in Heaven
a solemn pledge of undivided love.
May we offer to our brothers and sisters
a life poured out in service of that kingdom
where You live and reign with the Father
and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.

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