June 2, 2013 –– The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
“This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me… This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” With these words quoted within St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, today’s second reading, Jesus established the Eucharist.
Today’s Feast — The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ — commemorates that night when the Lord presented this incredible gift to His Apostles, and thus, to each of us, as well. In #1324 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it states, “The Eucharist is ‘source and summit of the Christian life.’ ‘The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ Himself, our Pasch.”
The Eucharist, by its definition and practice in our Catholic Church, is and should be at the center of everything we do. Therefore, it follows that it is at the heart of our practice of stewardship. Should we need a special day to remind us of this? Perhaps not, but the truth is that we are very human. The Church recognizes that and realizes we need special feasts like this to prompt us to remember that what we have been given is sacred, something to be treasured. All of the readings of this holy day are built around the Eucharist.
Our first reading from Genesis is a vision of the Eucharist as we know it. At a meeting with Abram (Abraham) the high priest Melchizidek (in Hebrew, Melchizidek means “King of Righteousness) presents him with bread and wine. How does Abraham respond to this gift? “Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” Melchizidek gives and Abram responds. It parallels what we are to do in the Eucharist. We receive the gift of Jesus Christ Himself, and our response should show our commitment to stewardship — to being disciples of the Lord.
St. Paul wrote his letter to the Corinthians to advise them on the proper way to worship. Scholars agree that this is the first reference in the New Testament directly associated with the celebration of the Eucharist (after it was instituted by Jesus Christ). Paul underscores the fact that Jesus is the real presence found in the Eucharist, and warns the Corinthians that to not recognize this jeopardizes their celebration and their souls. The Eucharist is the ultimate in our spiritual experience — through communion, we move beyond the apparent, the seen, and we become one with the Lord. We are strengthened individually and collectively, and all things are restored in Christ.
The Gospel from Luke tells a story with which all Catholics are familiar — the miracle of the loaves and fishes. However, it tells us much more than that. Like the first reading from Genesis, it parallels our perception and understanding of the Eucharist. Jesus broke the bread and distributed it to the crowd. This story of the loaves and fishes reminds us that when we share what we are and what we have, miracles can and do happen. God accepts our gifts, blesses them, and makes them marvelous indeed.
Through lives of stewardship, we distinguish how gifted we are, but we also sense our ongoing need for spiritual nourishment. We are that hungry multitude, and it is through Jesus, through the Eucharist, that our requisites are fulfilled, so that we, too, can proclaim, “All ate and were satisfied.”