Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
June 7, 2015 Cycle B

by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E.

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In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

I am reading a very interesting book, entitled Our Catholic Roots, about the history of old churches east of the Mississippi. During their history, some of the churches were substantially destroyed by fire. This is what happened to Old St. Patrick’s in New York: “Sparks from a building fire on Broadway were carried by a high wind and landed on the church roof. The fire spread so fast that nothing could save the building. The Blessed Sacrament was removed […] but when the fire subsided, all that was left standing were the walls” (Walter Maloney, Our Catholic Roots, 156). The first concern was to save the treasure of the church. And the treasure was not in the safe. It was in the tabernacle! The Eucharist is the treasure of the Church. It is the most important legacy that Christ gave us.

During the Last Supper, Jesus gave us his most precious treasure. In today’s Gospel, Jesus says: “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many” (Mk 14:24). With the institution of the Eucharist, Jesus establishes a new covenant. The second reading says: “He is mediator of a new covenant” (Heb 9:15).

Today’s first reading tells us that the covenant between God and his people was sealed by a blood rite: half the blood of the victims was poured on the altar, which represented God, and half on the people. Moses explains the rite to the people: “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you” (Ex 24:8).

The covenant sealed with the blood of animals was a figure of the new covenant sealed with the blood of God made man. Only his blood is able to wash our sins and allow us to enter in full communion with God.

At Mass, a great mystery occurs, the renewal of the sacrifice of Christ. This is not a repetition of the sacrifice but its actualization. The death and resurrection of Christ become present.

The supreme act of love of the Cross contradicts our selfishness. Jesus totally gave himself. He accepted death for us. He gave his body and blood for us. Every time we participate in the Mass, we should ask ourselves whether we are giving ourselves in the same way that Christ does. There is a total disproportion between Christ’s gift and our own way of living. It is not hard to understand that we are too self-centered. That is why we always start Mass with an examination of conscience and confession that we are sinners. We need God’s mercy.

The Eucharist contradicts the logic of the selfishness that we live in with the infinite logic of the self-giving of Christ.

Coming to Mass and receiving communion mean to let Christ’s act of self-giving live in us. Christian life is to let Christ live in us. As St. Paul says: “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me” (Gal 2:20).

In order for our participation in the Eucharist to be fruitful, we need to be in a state of conversion, the continual passage from the old self to the new I that Christ creates in us.

We receive the host in order to become hosts for others, signs of God’s love. This is what we see in the lives of the saints. All the saints have a deep devotion to the Eucharist. In the Blessed Sacrament, they find the source that allows them to live their lives as an act of love. St. Damien of Molokai wrote: “The Blessed Sacrament is indeed the stimulus for us all, for me as it should be for you, to forsake all worldly ambitions. Without the constant presence of our Divine Master upon the altar in my poor chapels, I never could have persevered in casting my lot with the lepers of Molokai; the foreseen consequence of which begins now to appear on my skin, and is felt throughout the body. Holy Communion being the daily bread of a priest, I feel myself happy, well pleased, and resigned in the rather exceptional circumstances in which it has pleased Divine Providence to put me.”

Let us pray that the celebration of the solemnity of Corpus Christi will help us to rediscover the treasure of the Church.  May our participation at Mass fill our hearts with gratitude for such a great gift and lead us to give of ourselves with generosity.

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