The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)
Book of Exodus 24:3-8, Psalm 116:12-13, 15-16, 17-18, Hebrews 9:11-15, &
Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
Today we celebrate a wonderful and central mystery of our Catholic faith, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, or Corpus Christi. We have many symbols in Christianity. We have statues, water, oils, candles, flowers, vestments, incredible works of art, and so forth. They all represent a reality which the symbols call to mind as the “source and summit of our faith,” the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist, the consecrated bread and wine are not symbols. We believe we celebrate that Jesus Christ is present, real, whole, and available to us at Mass.
In our first reading from the Book of Exodus, today is the account of a beautiful liturgy. In the previous chapters of Exodus, Moses has been relating the laws and customs appropriate to Israel’s relationship with God. So the liturgy of the Word has taken place, and to it, all the people respond, “Yes, all that the Lord has asked of us, we will do!” These laws, as we know, are precise and demanding. The Spirit of the covenant with God is being spoken aloud.
The Gospel narrative of Saint Mark has a liturgical form to it as well. There is the preparation for the remembrance celebration of the historic saving event, the Passover, by the disciples. While they remember, a part of which is a memorial meal, Jesus begins His changing of history, which will culminate in His final handing-over on Calvary and His Resurrection and the handing-over of His Spirit.
As we read, study, and reflect on the Gospel, we discover that Jesus hands over His Body and Blood in a sacramental manner. The unleavened bread is part of the ritual remembering the Exodus. The wine is on the table in the tradition of remembering the ten plagues and the sharing of it, recalling the fellowship of God’s people.
Jesus transforms these symbols into “His reality” and asks to be remembered as the “New Covenant.” A covenant that expresses God’s love. This first Eucharistic liturgy ends with a prayer that Jesus makes in which He states that this will be the last time He will celebrate the Passover until He has accomplished His salvific mission. Then, beautifully, they close with a hymn and leave.
Sisters and brothers, the Feast of Corpus Christi reminds us of the great gift Christ has given us. That gift, of course, is Himself. Today, and every day we must remember Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John 6:51, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven, whoever eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.”
Question of the Day: How will you proclaim Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life who will lead us to His Father in heaven?
Prayer: “O Sacrament most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, All praise and all thanksgiving, be every moment thine.” Amen.