The famous theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar (the most important Roman Catholic theologian of the 20th century) says it this way: "When receiving the Eucharist each person must remember that he is falling into the arms of God like someone dying of hunger in the wilderness of this life."
Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ! Corpus Christi Sunday! This feast is the heart of our church and the heart of the lives of each one of us. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1322 says “The Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life." Most of the Sacraments take place in the Sacrament of Eucharist.
The first reading from the book of Exodus gives us solemn enactment of the Covenant with Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai. Moses reads the “book of the Covenant” to the people and they say, “We will do everything that the LORD has told us Exodus (24:3).” This covenant sealed with a sacrifice, as Moses proclaims, “This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words (24:8).” The Sinai ritual is a prototype of the Eucharistic covenant. We see this passage in Hebrews 9:18-20. Jesus uses the same words at the Last Supper, offering himself as a sacrifice that seals the new covenant. Today, in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus said to his disciples, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many (Mark 14:24).” The letter to Hebrews uses the Greek term ‘diatheke’ means covenant. Jesus came to establish the new covenant. In the first Corinthians 11:25, Paul quotes Jesus words and say, “After supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.””
We read the second reading from the letter to Hebrews. It was written for the Jews who were kicked out of the synagogues for accepting Jesus. The reading for today compares the sacrifice offered by the High Priest in the Temple and the true and infant sacrifice Jesus offered. Jesus is the Priest and sacrificial victim. In the book of Leviticus tells the animals offered in sacrifice had to be without any defects. “If a person’s offering is a burnt offering from the herd, the offering must be a male without blemish. The individual shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to find favor with the LORD… (Leviticus 1:3)” Jesus offered the perfect sacrifice, so there was no need of any more animal sacrifices.
In the Old Covenant between God and Israel was sealed through the sacrificial blood at Mount Sinai, the New Covenant between Christ and the Church is sealed through the blood of Christ. Lumen Gentium 11, says, “Taking part in the Eucharistic sacrifice, which is the fount and apex of the whole Christian life, they offer the Divine Victim to God, and offer themselves along with it.”
During Jesus public life, he preached healed, fed people, but he didn’t lose anything, but at the Last Supper when he said “this is My Body” and “this is My Blood,” he was looking at the Cross and that eternal sacrifice. The culmination of the new covenant is on Calvary and offered his life. He has to sacrifice everything to give us the “Bread of Life.”
Every time we gather together to celebrate Mass, we bring ourselves as we are to offer to God; with our joy and sorrows, strength and weakness: our total life. We become one with Christ’s sacrifice. Then we are sent out to continue the mission of Christ, to break and share our lives with one another like Jesus. It is not easy, it is painful. Jesus’ Body and Blood give us strength.
St. Ignatius called Eucharist “the medicine of immortality.”
St. Gregory of Nyssa says, “The bread of life is the antidote for having eaten the forbidden fruit”.
Happy Corpus Christi Sunday!