Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Most Holy Body, and Blood of Christ. Today also marks the beginning of the National Eucharistic Revival with the hope of helping the faithful grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ through his real presence in the Eucharist.
At the Last Supper, Jesus came to establish a new and eternal covenant as he instituted the Eucharist. This everlasting covenant would be sealed with his sacrifice on the Cross. This was in God’s divine plan from the beginning, to perfect the old covenant that God established with the people of Israel with a new and eternal covenant. The old covenant involved the shedding and sprinkling of blood from a sacrificed animal. The altar represented God, and by sprinkling the blood on it and the people, a communion of life was established that would be maintained for as long as they followed the precepts stipulated. That covenant was repeatedly renewed in Jewish worship through the sacrifice of animals and the shedding of their blood, with the hope of atoning their transgression of the covenant. This covenant and the sacrificial blood that sealed it, were just a foreshadowing of the covenant to come. So, if the blood of animals produced a spiritual benefit for those who were offering it, today’s celebration of Corpus Christi reminds us of a much greater spiritual benefit that comes from the blood of Christ, who sacrificed himself in atonement for the sins of the world.
When God became man, he chose to become that sacrifice, to shed his blood to establish a new and everlasting covenant. We celebrate today the Body and Blood of Christ because they are now the one sacrifice to restore and maintain our communion with God. We offer and receive this sacrifice in an unbloody manner, under the appearance of bread and wine, in part because Our Lord didn’t want our squeamishness to keep us from coming to him as the Bread of Life. We remember today that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ so that we never forget that a sacrifice has been made once and for all the forgiveness of sins: our sins, not his.
Therefore, the Eucharist is not just a symbol of Christ’s presence; it is the reality of Christ’s presence. Every Mass is a miracle in which Christ makes himself truly present to us under the appearance of bread and wine. Every Mass is a miracle in which God shatters the limits of time and space and brings Christ’s sacrifice on the cross into the here-and-now of our lives. Every moment of every day, as red candles burn beside tabernacles all over the world and remind us of Christ’s living presence in the Eucharist, that miracle continues.
At Mass, Jesus will give himself to us once again in Holy Communion. When he does, let’s thank him for this tremendous gift, and let’s promise that this week, and every week, we will follow in his footsteps.
Fr. John, Pastor