Body and Blood of Christ

Dt 8:2-3,14b-16a; I Cor 10:16-17 Jn 6:51-58

A clergyman walking down a country lane and sees a young farmer struggling to load hay back onto a cart after it had fallen off. “You look hot, my son,” said the cleric. “why don’t you rest a moment, and I’ll give you a hand.” “No thanks,” said the young man. “My father wouldn’t like it.” “Don’t be silly,” the minister said. “Everyone is entitled to a break. Come and have a drink of water.” Again the young man protested that his father would be upset. Losing his patience, the clergyman said, “Your father must be a real slave driver. Tell me where I can find him and I’ll give him a piece of my mind!” “Well,” replied the young farmer, “he’s under the load of hay.” I wish all the fathers present here a Happy Father’s Day.

Our Dads are a special gift from God. As sons and daughters we thank God for the gift our father/dad. Today as we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi, we also reflect on the marvelous gift of the Eucharist.

Imagine that you went to your doctor for a routine physical. The doctor saw some things she was concerned about and send to you to get some tests. The test came back with very bad news. The doctor told you that the test showed you would have only about six months to live and the test very highly reliable and accurate. But the doctor said she has discovered a special medicine that would cure the problem. She promised you if you would take this medicine the medicine with no troubling side effects, you would likely enjoy good health for another 20 or 30 years. You’ve known your doctor for years, you know she’s very knowledgeable and you have always trusted her.  How much time would you spend dealing with all the doubts that flood your mind? would you be foolish to trust or foolish not to trust? What you decide to do may all come down to that trust.

Jesus in today’s Gospel, if we want to live forever, we must eat his body and drink his blood. Would we be foolish to trust what he tells us or foolish not to trust it. 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 (whenever he prefixes a statement with ‘Amen, amen’ he’s saying this really serious). Then he said “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.”

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 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 his 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.”

I think this is the biggest challenge to our faith in the church today. It is also the biggest comfort to those who believe. Once we are truly convinced that the Eucharist is Jesus’ body and blood, then it is much easier for us to see how it is the source of eternal life for us. Jesus gave us a simple image to help us see how, through the Eucharist, he brings us eternal life. He told us, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” By our union with him which endures and is nourished through the Eucharist, his divine life flows into us.

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.

By receiving Holy Communion, we become Christ-bearers as Mary was, with the duty of conveying Christ to others at home and in the workplace, through love, mercy, forgiveness and humble and sacrificial service.

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