“Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ” (Corpus Christi), by Fr. Tasang

Corpus Cbristi means above all the mystical body of Christ, the community of believers.

Background: Today’s feast is in a sense an unexpected feast for
several reasons: It duplicates Holy Thursday, we are repeating the Last supper celebration without the sadness of Good Friday. Secondly, because every Eucharistic celebration is a feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus. Unexpected, because of the origin of its feast. An Augustinian nun, Juliana if Liege reported a vision. She had seen a full moon in splendour, save for the dark area on one side. As she understood it, the moon was the Church, the area that was dark was because the Church had no feast of the Blessed Sacrament. Fifty five years later, Corpus Christi became a universal feast of the Church.

GOSPEL: Today we hear Jesus’ feeding the hungry multitude of five thousand. The actions of Jesus, taking loaves, looking up to heaven, breaking the loaves and distributing them are the very same actions of Jesus at the last supper. The memory of feeding, points to the Eucharist at the Last Supper, when Jesus finally gives the bread that comes down from heaven. The multiplication of the loaves is the same miracle that John the Evangelist uses as a starting point of his presentation of Jesus as the Bread of Life in John 6. In this sense, the feeding of the multitude is not a simple act of satisfying the people’s hunger. Early Christians gave a Eucharistic interpretation to this event, the reason was that bodily nourishment is closely linked to the nourishment of the heart. The Eucharistic bread provides nourishment of the heart only when a man is led to more intense love of ills brothers and to provide them with the bread which they lack. Within the miracle of Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves and fish is the parallel event of conversion and transformation of the disciples. From people turned only on themselves to disciples who share and are sensitive and responsive.

1. Corpus Christi means first of all the physical body of Christ. It is this body that suffered torture, bloodied by whipping. It is the same body that took all the cruelty thrown at him, the same body that was nailed and hung on the cross. Jesus took all of them not in stoic indifference neither with a revengeful spirit but in dignified silence. His body took all these without eliciting sympathy and exhibiting anger. There is serenity and strength that an only spring from a heart in communion with God – his words are only forgiveness. When Jesus took upon his physical body all the injuries inflicted on him and breathed his last on the cross, he acted out and fulfilled the words he said on the Last Supper when he said “This is my body which will be given up for you.” Therefore when we receive the Body of Christ, we want to conform ourselves to the depth of Christ’s love. We should be able to bear the suffering for the sake of others. We too are willing to give up our bodies for others. When Jesus asks us, “to do this in memory of me” he was referring to that kind of love for others.
2. Corpus Christi also means the Eucharistic body of Christ in the
Eucharistic species. In the Eucharist we have Jesus himself, body and blood, soul and divinity. When we receive Holy Communion, we have a closer contact with Jesus than was possible to anybody during his earthly life. In the Eucharist the actual distance between ourselves and Christ vanishes. The God-man out of sheer love gives the lowly bread and wine as his flesh to eat and his blood to drink. We can only respond in awe and wonder because something marvellous and enrapturing has broken into our common place world. As we grow older, most of us lose our sense of wonder. We get blase, wordly wise and sophisticated. We have grown up. Heschel saw it as modem man’s trap, believing that everything can be explained, that all of reality is simply an affair which has only to be organized in order to be mastered. All enigmas can be solved and all wonder is nothing but the effect of novelty on ignorance. The enemy of wonder is to take things for granted. We need to recover this sense of wonder. We have nothing to rely on except the words of Jesus, when he said “this is my body”. He did not say this is the symbol of his body. His words are trustworthy.
3. Corpus Christi means above all the mystical body of Christ, the community of believers. The Eucharist is essentially a meal. It intends to bring together not only us with God but with one another. When we receive the body of Christ in communion, we are also accepting the presence of Christ in one another. We can’t share fruitfully in the first if we are unmindful of the second. When we as a family have a meal at home together, we are drawn closer by that sharing more’than anything else. When we provide hospitality to friends by way of a meal or they for us, we have the opportunity for closeness too. In the Eucharist, God is providing us the same opportunity, with the addition that the closeness, intimacy and union are provided for by God in abundance. The more we eat together, the more we become his mystical body.

published, June 2, 2013 Parish Bulletin