Deut 8: 2-4, I Cor 10: 16-17 Jn 6: 51-58
An exasperated mother, whose son was always getting into mischief, finally asked him, “How do you expect to get into Heaven?” The boy thought it over and said, “Well, I’ll just run in and out and in and out and keep slamming the door until St. Peter says, ‘For Heaven’s sake, Jimmy, come in or stay out!'”
We celebrate or commemorate today the feast of the Body of the Lord, Corpus Christi, the feast which reminds us once again of the what happened at the Last Supper, namely, that Jesus took bread and wine at that meal and identified them as his body broken and his blood poured out for us.
Jesus tells us in today’s gospel, if we want to live forever, we must eat his body and drink his blood. The Jews who first heard him asked: “How can that be?” A reasonable question! We still ask it. But the answer is beyond reason; it is answered only by faith. Jesus said it and he said it in the clearest possible terms. When his hearers questioned him, he repeated what he had said and said it more emphatically: “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.”
The teachers give home works for the children. I give you today a little homework for you this week to take and read the 6th chapter gospel of John. If you look up today’s gospel passage in your bibles, you will see that after Jesus insisted we must eat his body and drink his blood in order to have eternal life, many of his followers started walking away, saying to themselves that he was out of his mind. What is important here is what Jesus didn’t do. The gospel tells us he didn’t call them back. He didn’t say, “wait, don’t take me literally.” He didn’t say, “you misunderstand me – I don’t mean you really have to eat my body and drink my blood.” Jesus just let them go; he knew they understood him perfectly.
The apostles, however, stayed with him even though they didn’t understand what he was saying any more than anyone else. When Jesus asked them, “Do you also want to leave?” Peter answered: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
It is quite marvelous how Jesus devised a way to feed us with his own flesh and blood. He has given us the Eucharist, which is real presence. The Eucharist is truly his body and blood. Yet it remains a mystery for us and we are still asking, “How can this be?” It all comes down to faith, faith in the one who tells us, “This is my body. This is my blood.”
We have five accounts of the events of the Last Supper. The oldest account is given in Paul’s First Letter to Corinthians 11:23-25. Notice that the bread is here described as “broken for you”. Matthew, Mark, and Luke do not have these words. In their accounts Jesus simply says: “This is my body.” But notice that in our Eucharistic prayers we follow Paul rather than them and describe the bread as “given up for you”.
Sometimes we can become so interested in figuring out how Jesus is present in the bread and wine that we forget that his giving us his body as broken and his blood as poured out for us. Jesus gave his life away for us, and he asks us to give our lives away for him. That is the action implied in the Eucharist.
Once we are truly convinced that the Eucharist is Jesus’ body and blood, then it is much easier for us to see hot it is source of eternal life for us.
We are remembering the Lord’s sacrifice on Calvary which he anticipated at the Last Supper when he identified the bread and wine as his body broken and blood poured out for us. Let us concentrate a little more on the words broken and poured out when we receive the Eucharist. Let us become aware that we too must become bread broken and blood poured out for others as we go out after the Mass.
Moses told God’s people not to forget what God had done for them. Today’s feast inspires us not to forget what Jesus does and continues to do for us through the Eucharist. Amen.