June 6, 2021— The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
EX 24:3-8; PS 116:12-13, 15-16, 17-18; HEB 9:11-15; MK 14:12-16, 22-26
Today we celebrate Corpus Christi — the Body and Blood of Christ. Jesus’ Body and Blood was sacrificed for us on Calvary, but before that excruciating event, He humbly bound Himself to human hands in the Eucharist. As St. Thomas Aquinas expresses, “In this sacrament sins are purged away, virtues are increased, the soul satiated with an abundance of every spiritual gift. No other sacrament is so beneficial.”
Jesus gave us the perfect and loving Gift of Himself so that we might be nourished, strengthened and more fully united to Him as we journey to eternal life. This glorious solemnity calls us to reflect on the precious gift of the Eucharist and what it truly means for us as Catholics.
Our Gospel today recounts the Last Supper. As Jesus ate the Passover meal with His apostles, He broke bread, telling them, “This is my Body,” and again, poured wine, saying, “This is my Blood… which will be shed for many.” In this moment, Jesus sacrificially gave us Himself in the Eucharist by foreshadowing His passion, death and resurrection.
The Eucharist, what we celebrate at each Mass, is the real presence of our Savior — Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. It is not a symbol of Jesus or even just a piece of Him. It is all of Him, given to each of us. As St. Catherine of Siena said, “Even if it would be possible to fragment the Holy Eucharist into thousands of tiny Particles, in each one of the tiny Particles there is the presence of Christ, the whole God and the whole Man.”
Out of total love, Jesus holds nothing back from us. He gives us His entire self.
We must ask ourselves, do we understand Who we consume at every Mass?
It is our Precious Redeemer.
As life becomes busy and our minds are filled with the countless things we must get done each day, we often forget to acknowledge our Savior at Mass; or to spend time with Him throughout our week; or to accept all the graces He wishes to bestow on us as we receive Him. So let us stop and recognize the real presence of our Savior.
It begins as we walk into the church each week. Where do our minds and hearts focus? Is it on which pew we might sit in, if our friend is at Mass, or are we wrapped up in a thought of “thank goodness we made it before the Gospel”?
In our humanity, it is so easy to think of these things, but as we enter the church, we should strive to leave the world outside and enter into God’s time. We should draw our eyes, minds and hearts to the One we came to see lain in the Tabernacle. Recall, it is truly Jesus’ presence we have just entered. It is God before us. Let’s greet Him with reverence as we bend one knee or bow before Him. Let us strive to sit in silence and speak to Him from your mind and heart. This can be difficult for us with the distractions of what is going on around us or if we have young kids. All we can do is try out best.
When the high point of our Mass occurs — when the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, recall that we are at Calvary once again. The crucifixion of Christ is made re-present to us. We have the opportunity to consume His precious Body and Blood. It is truly the most intimate moment we have with God on this earth.
Do not let this moment pass us by. It is an opportunity for mercy, offerings and grace. As we approach Jesus’ Body and Blood, ask for mercy for every sin we have ever committed; offer our greatest joy and our deepest sorrow along with all of our intentions; and ask for grace to persevere in this life.
Recall that this is a Eucharistic meal. We should continue these prayers, along with prayers of gratitude and praise, after we receive Him. Just as the apostles spent time with Jesus at the Last Supper by speaking with Him as they shared that meal, so too are we called to fully partake in this meal at Mass. When someone serves us a meal, we do not turn around and leave. Instead we enjoy it and share our gratitude for it. This is how we are to respond to our spiritual food.
It can be difficult to wrap our minds around Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist. The appearance of bread and wine are tough to look past. Thankfully, God hears our cry for faith. If we struggle to believe in His real presence, pray frequently, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Our God looks on us with such love and compassion. He will increase our eyes of faith.
Yet another way to deepen our understanding of Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist is through Eucharistic Adoration or time before the Tabernacle. Spending time in the presence of Jesus will undoubtedly transform our hearts. Grace is poured out on us just by being with Him. Anyone can pray in His presence. It is as simple as St. John Vianney proclaims, “I look at Him and He looks at me.” We don’t need to overcomplicate our prayer — we just need to be with Jesus.
As we celebrate this glorious solemnity of The Body and Blood of Christ, let us find time today to reflect on the Eucharist. Let us strive to intentionally honor and reverence Him at every Mass; strive to fully partake in each Eucharistic meal; and let us find time to visit our Savior in the Tabernacle. And let us pray frequently, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”