The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Today´s celebration, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, is an opportunity for us to focus on the Mass and the Eucharist. Historically, there was only one sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Sacramentally, the sacrifice of Jesus is remembered as often as the Eucharist is celebrated. Through the sacrament of the Eucharist that we celebrate every day on our altars, we are mysteriously present at the death of the Lord. The ancient Jews would say on Passover night, “In every generation let each of us see himself as one that came out of Egypt that night.” We Christians say, “We are present at the New Passover. We are present as the Lord gives his Body and Blood during the Mass. We are present under the cross with Mary and John.” “Were you there when they crucified the Lord?” the spiritual asks. “Yes, we reply.“We are there whenever we celebrate the mystery of the Eucharist”[1].

Few months ago, a lady came to see me to tell me that she was leaving St. Vincent de Paul. She had made that decision two years earlier, but had put off changing her faith. I asked her, “Why?” She returned with the question, “Why am I leaving the faith or why did I wait two years to do so?” I responded, “Both.”  She said that she was leaving the faith because she found a religion where, to use the language of the day, she felt she was being fed. Then she said, “During the last two years, I couldn’t convince myself to leave the Eucharist.” And then she started crying. She said that the new faith did have communion celebrations, but they were meals of fellowship, not the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ. I told her that I respected her decision, and I knew that various experiences appeal to various people, but nothing could ever replace the Eucharist.

The Eucharist is the Lord’s dying gift to us. The Eucharist is Jesus Christ within us. We receive His Body, His humanity and divinity, we receive His Blood, His saving us on the Cross, and we celebrate the Living Memory of Jesus Christ. We speak to Him within ourselves. And He speaks to us, calling us to unite our pains to His Cross, strengthening us with the eternal Food for the Journey of our Lives.

Many of you will be attending Mass at many different places this summer as your family goes on vacation. Many of you will be attending Mass at many different places the next few years as you go off to relocate. No two of these Masses will be identical. None of them will be exactly like any of our Masses here at St. Vincent de Paul. But the heart of every Mass will be the same: Jesus Christ will be present at the Last Supper, on the Cross, and within each person who receives His Body and Blood. All the liturgical enhancements to our celebrations are wonderful, but none of them surpass the wonder of Jesus Christ, present in every Eucharist.

The sad reality is that over two-thirds of all Catholics in the United States do not even understand what the Eucharist is. Many Catholics in our country think of the Eucharist as being merely a symbol; some think of it as a symbol of our fellowship with one another, while others see it as a symbol of Christ’s presence. This is the way that most non-Catholics think about the Eucharist; that it is just a symbol and not the real thing.

As Catholics we know, or we should know, that Christ is NOT just SYMBOLICALLY present in the Eucharist. Rather He IS TRULY, REALLY present. The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it this way, «In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained»[2].

My brother, my sister, our prayer today is the same as that of the Holy Father as he took up the holy procession: “We ask the Lord” the Holy Father said, “in the name of the entire city: Stay with us, Jesus, make us a gift of Yourself and give us the bread that nourishes us for eternal life. Free this world from the poison of evil, from the violence and hatred that pollute people's consciences, purify it with the power of Your merciful love”.

Let us ask Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, to keep us close to Jesus, and make us ever more faithful instruments of His love and life ■

[1] Sunday 6th June, 2010, Solemnity of Body and Blood of Christ. Reading: Genesis 14:18-20. You are a priest forever, in the line of Melchizedek—Ps 109(110):1-4. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. Luke 9:11-17 [St Norbert].
[2] CCC #1374. 

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris