For 700 years or so, the Church has celebrated with great joy the Feast of Corpus Christi, the great gift of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, given to us at the Last Supper. “…Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.” Luke 22:19
Just as we need to nourish our physical bodies in order to have strength; to work; and to live well, so too we need to eat in the House of the Lord to have spiritual strength; the ability to learn and understand the ways of the Lord, and work for the building up of the Kingdom; to live well now and for eternity. Nourished by this heavenly food we carry on the work of Christ and His Church.
FEAST OF CORPUS CHRISTI JUNE 18, 2017
In the First Reading, Moses reminds the people of Israel that it is God who ensured they did not die of hunger and thirst in the desert, by providing them with manna and water. They are not to forget their faithful Lord who has always guided them.
The Psalm praises the Lord for sending wheat to feed his people, and his Word to feed their spirit.
In his Letter to the Corinthians (Second Reading), St Paul confirms the intimate link between the body and blood of Christ and the blessing-cup and bread of the Eucharist. This one bread shared by all has a unifying effect.
In the Gospel, we find Jesus instructing the crowds after the feeding of the 5000. He seeks to explain the difference between the food needed to keep our body in good health and the bread ‘come down from heaven’, which is his body. It will feed them spiritually. They will draw life from his body and blood, just as he draws life from his Father.
THIS IS THE BREAD COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN
I am the living bread from heaven…whoever eats this bread will live forever….whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day…whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him John 6:48 (Bread of Life Discourse)
JESUS INSTITUTES THE HOLY EUCHARIST AT THE LAST SUPPER
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
1323 “At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet ‘in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.'”
1324 The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.”…For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself”
THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION OF THE EUCHARIST
1346 The liturgy of the Eucharist unfolds according to a fundamental structure which has been preserved throughout the centuries down to our own day. It displays two great parts that form a fundamental unity: the gathering, the liturgy of the Word, with readings, homily, and general intercessions; the liturgy of the Eucharist, with the presentation of the bread and wine, the consecration thanksgiving, and communion.
1360 The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father…by which the Church expresses her gratitude to God for all His benefits, for all that He has accomplished through creation, redemption, and sanctification. Eucharist means first of all “thanksgiving.”
1364 When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, she commemorates Christ’s Passover, and it is made present: the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever present. “As often as the sacrifice of the Cross by which ‘Christ our Pasch has been sacrificed’ is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out.”
1367 The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: “The victim is one and the same…the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and offered in an unbloody manner . . . this sacrifice is truly propitiatory.”
Note on “unbloody manner” The “accidents”, those things that appeal to our senses, touch, sight, taste,etc remain. The “substance” of the Eucharist is changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus and remains in “real presence” as long as the “accidents” remain. This is why the Blessed Sacrament may be reserved in the tabernacle for adoration and sick calls.
1373 “Christ Jesus, who died, was raised from the dead, sits at the right hand of God, and intercedes for us,” is present in many ways to his Church: in his word, in his Church’s prayer, “where two or three are gathered in my name,” in the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned, in the sacraments of which He is the author, in the sacrifice of the Mass, and in the person of the minister. But “He is present . . . most especially in the Eucharistic species.”
1374 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.” “This presence is called ‘real’ –
1391-92 The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist in Holy Communion is an intimate union with Christ Jesus. Indeed, the Lord said: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” What material food produces in our bodily life, Holy Communion wonderfully achieves in our spiritual life. Communion with the flesh of the risen Christ preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism.
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