June 14, 2020 — Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ
DT 8:2-3,14B-16A; PS 147:12-15,19-20; 1 COR 10:16-17; JN 6:51-58
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. Our readings are focused on the gifts of the Word of God and the Eucharist. This feast has deep significance to those of us living the stewardship way of life.
Why? As stewards, we recognize that all that we are and all that we have been given are gifts from God. We are called to treasure these gifts and use them for God’s glory. Aside from life itself, the most precious gifts God has given us are His Word and His Body and Blood. Our Solemnity today and the readings for this week invite us to a deeper gratitude and better stewardship of these two sublime gifts.
In our first reading, from Deuteronomy, Moses tells the people that God “let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna… in order to show you that not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord. Do not forget the Lord your God.” Our Heavenly Father is such a good teacher. He reminds His people that just as we experience physical hunger from lack of food, we become spiritually malnourished through lack of feeding on the Word of God. It is that important.
God’s Word is alive and He intends for us to feed on it daily. Yet, it is a gift that is easy to neglect. In this noisy modern world, it can be challenging to even recognize our spiritual “hunger pangs.” And it is easier to feed them with the junk food of mindless distraction and entertainment. As Christian stewards, we must recognize our dependence on God’s Word, and treasure this priceless gift — out of gratitude to the Giver and so that we can share it with others.
Our Lord reveals the full meaning of this gift in our Gospel passage from John. He says to the 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.” In the Old Testament, God fed His people with manna. Now, He feeds us with the very Flesh and Blood of His Son.
And, just as the Word of God is vital to our spiritual nourishment, so, too is the nourishment of the Eucharist.
Jesus could not make this any clearer to us: “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.” Without the Eucharist, we die spiritually. But through the Eucharist, we experience a taste of heaven right now. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” Notice that Christ does not say those who partake of His Body and Blood will have eternal life, but that they have eternal life — right here and right now! It is no wonder then, that the Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the Eucharist as the “source and summit of our faith” (1324).