Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ – Years A, B, C
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. This Solemnity gives us the opportunity to think about the importance of the Eucharist in our lives, in our community, and about what we can do in order to truly become a Eucharistic community, to become Eucharistic people. So today, we can consider the Eucharist, meaning, first, what is the Eucharist, and, second, how can we live out our faith in it.
First of all, we should remember that “the Church draws her life from the Eucharist,” as Saint John Paul the Second said. This means that the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life,” because “the most holy Eucharist contains the Church’s entire spiritual wealth: Christ himself, our Passover and living bread. Through his own flesh, now made living and life-giving by the Holy Spirit, he offers life to men.”
This is extremely important. The Eucharist isn’t simply a symbol of Christ’s presence. It doesn’t just make me think of Jesus. No! The Eucharist is living bread because Christ is present, and He lives forever. For this reason, “the Church has received the Eucharist from Christ her Lord not as one gift – however precious – among so many others, but as the gift par excellence, for it is the gift of himself, of his person in his sacred humanity, as well as the gift of his saving work. Nor does it remain confined to the past, since ‘all that Christ is – all that he did and suffered for all men – participates in the divine eternity, and so transcends all times.’ When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the memorial of her Lord’s death and resurrection, this central event of salvation becomes really present and ‘the work of our redemption is carried out.’ This sacrifice is . . . decisive for the salvation of the human race. [We should kneel down] in adoration before this mystery: a great mystery, a mystery of mercy. What more could Jesus have done for us? Truly, in the Eucharist, he shows us a love which goes ‘to the end’ (cf. Jn 13:1), a love which knows no measure.”
“The Church constantly draws her life from the redeeming sacrifice; she approaches it not only through faith-filled remembrance, but also through a real contact, since this sacrifice is made present ever anew, sacramentally perpetuated, in every community which offers it at the hands of the consecrated minister. The Eucharist thus applies to men and women today the reconciliation won once for all by Christ for mankind in every age. ‘The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice.’ Saint John Chrysostom put it well: ‘We always offer the same Lamb, not one today and another tomorrow, but always the same one. For this reason the sacrifice is always only one… Even now we offer that victim who was once offered and who will never be consumed.’
The Mass makes present the sacrifice of the Cross; it does not add to that sacrifice nor does it multiply it. What is repeated is its memorial celebration . . . which makes Christ’s one, definitive redemptive sacrifice always present in time.”
At Mass, we celebrate the sacrifice of Christ; it becomes present again, with all the graces, with all the love, everything, as it was on Calvary. This is why Padre Pio said that the Mass is “the center of the universe.” The Mass is the center of the universe! As Saint Jose Maria Escriva put it: “Jesus has remained in the Sacred Host for us so as to stay by our side, to sustain us, to guide us. Love has been awaiting us for almost two thousand years. And love can only be repaid with love.”
This leads into our second point: what do we do with this greatest gift? The saint continues that thought, thinking of God’s love, by saying: “How could we not turn to the Blessed Sacrament each day, even if it is only for a few minutes, to bring him our greetings and our love as children and as brothers?” It’s true that today the situation is perhaps more difficult but, when the opportunity arises, do we make time to visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament?
Likewise, the most important thing we can do is live in God’s grace. The Eucharist is the sacrifice of Christ for us, and for our salvation. To live in sin is to reject that greatest gift, the gift of God’s love for us. All we need to do is to ask for forgiveness, to turn to Christ, and He will restore us so once again we can be made whole.
We can also make the effort to participate in daily Mass, participating fully and with all the love that we are capable of, knowing that what is taking place is the mystery of Christ’s love for us, a love that led Him to the cross. As Saint Therese of Lisieux wrote, “Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you – for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart. . . . Receive Him, Receive Him often. This is the only remedy for what ails you.”
Do we trust that in the Eucharist we will find the remedy for whatever ails us? Do we make the effort to be with Jesus, to talk to Him, to ask Him for His help in our lives?
Through the intercession of Mary, who Pope Saint John Paul the Second said “is a ‘woman of the Eucharist’ in her whole life,” obtain for us the grace to draw near to the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith, and draw from it the graces that we need into order to truly have a Eucharistic life, a faith that we live out in every moment and situation in our lives.