June 23, 2019 — The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Today, we observe the Solemnity of the of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. This beautiful feast celebrates the gift of the Eucharist, which the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches is the source and summit of our Christian faith. “For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ Himself” (CCC 1324).
The very word, Eucharist, means “thanksgiving” or “gratitude,” and so this feast is especially meaningful to all of us who are striving to live as grateful stewards of all God’s blessings to us. Surely the Eucharist is the greatest of all blessings because it is not only from God, it is God — the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Today’s second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians reminds us of the depths of love our Lord has shown us in the gift of the Eucharist, recalling Christ’s words at the very first Eucharistic celebration. “The Lord Jesus… took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you.’” In that moment, and at every celebration of the Mass thereafter, Jesus gives us His very Self in an act of complete humility and perfect love. How can we possibly show our gratitude for such a sublime gift?
We can — in our own imperfect way — follow our Lord’s example by giving generously of ourselves to others. Our Gospel reading from Luke recounts the miraculous multiplication of the loaves and fishes, when Jesus took the small offering of the five loaves and two fish and produced enough to satisfy the whole crowd with twelve baskets full of leftovers. This event is widely understood as a foreshadowing of the miracle that takes place at every Mass as the words of consecration are spoken by the celebrant and God transforms bread and wine into the Precious Body and Blood of Jesus.
And in contemplating this stunning show of Jesus’ power in feeding the crowd that evening, it is easy to overlook an important detail for us Christian stewards found in the brief statement our Lord makes just before performing the miracle. When the apostles suggest to Jesus that He should dismiss the hungry crowd so they could go and find some dinner, Jesus has another idea. “Give them some food yourselves,” He tells them. This is a seemingly impossible command. It would take work, effort, energy and resources the Apostles simply did not have. But Jesus is not asking the impossible. He is asking us to give Him what we do have for the sake of others — and let Him do the impossible with it.
This is the way we can at least attempt to thank Him for all His gifts and goodness to us. This is the essence of a stewardship way of life. When we gratefully offer back to our Lord the gifts He has given to us, He takes those same gifts and multiplies them beyond our wildest imaginings. And yet another miracle occurs — this sharing of ourselves and our gifts does not leave us with less, but with more — the satisfaction of living as Christ’s own disciple and an instrument of His grace in the world.
As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, let us receive the gift of the Eucharist with the greatest possible reverence and love. And let’s give ourselves generously to others in the week ahead to show our gratitude for this wondrous gift — the gift of God Himself.