Saturday, June 25, 2011

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (or Corpus Christi)

Tomorrow, Sunday June 26, 2011, is the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.  For Catholic (and I would guess our sister Orthodox) Christians this is an especially solemn day of celebration.  It is the day we celebrate the Real Presence of Jesus Christ Our Lord at Mass.

The first reading is from Deuteronomy 8:2-3; 14b-16a.  It tells the story of the manna in the desert.  The people were in the desert starving.  God provided food in the form of manna which tasted of honey (a preview of the land "flowing with milk and honey") and looked like coriander seeds.  Manna literally means, "What is it?"  It has been called the bread from Heaven.

Manna in the desert gathered up by the people.
 Moses said to the people:  "Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God, has directed all your journeying in the desert, so as to test you by affliction and find out whether or not it was your intention to keep his commandments.  He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.
"Do not forget the LORD, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery; who guided you through the vast and terrible desert with its saraph serpents and scorpions, its parched and waterless ground; who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock and fed you in the desert with manna, a food unknown to your fathers."

Notice how this passage ties in with the Gospel reading:

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:  "I am the Living Bread that came down from Heaven; whoever eats this Bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is My Flesh for the life of the world."

Jesus offering us His Body and Blood
 The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"

Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life within you.  Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life,
and I will raise him on 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 him.  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 6:51-58

There is nothing ambiguous or symbolic in what Jesus is saying.  "I AM the bread from Heaven."  "Whoever EATS MY FLESH and DRINKS MY BLOOD has eternal life."  He didn't say whoever symbolically eats my flesh or symbolically drinks my blood has eternal life.  There is nothing wishy-washy or symbolic about his language.  It is a wonderful mystery just as the Blessed Trinity is a mystery.  The Mass is a mystery.  I love God in all His majesty and mystery. 

Jesus, I trust in You!

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