The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life! (CCC 1324). Today we joyfully celebrate this priceless gift in the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Today’s liturgy recounts the reality of Real Presence in the Eucharist and reveals how it has been given to us.
In his First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul tells us how the Eucharist was first instituted by the Lord at the Last Supper. Paul himself was not present, but the sacred Tradition that he received is what he hands on to us: “that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’”
At the Last Supper, Jesus not only revealed that he is present in the Sacrament, but also ordained the Apostles to do as he had done. He determined that the one sacrifice of his Body and Blood, at the Last Supper and on the Cross, was to be a perpetual gift, made present through the ministry of his priests. In recent days, priests have become the target of much criticism because of the scandalous behavior of some of them, but the gift of the Eucharist still comes to us by their anointed hands. Jesus has given his priests the sacred power to consecrate, to make his Body and Blood present on the altar under the appearance of bread and wine. This takes place at every single Holy Mass, as the Church obeys the Lord’s command: “Do this in remembrance of me.”
This remarkable Sacrament was prefigured in the Book of Genesis. Melchizedek, both a king and “a priest of God Most High,” performed a prophetic action which could not be fully understood at the time: he “brought out bread and wine.” At the same time, he invoked a blessing on Abram, whose name was later changed to Abraham, our father in faith. Melchizedek is a figure of Jesus Christ, whom we honor as our King and true High Priest (cf. CCC 1544-45). When our priests are ordained, they share in the one priesthood of Christ, receiving an indelible spiritual “character” which makes each of them “a priest forever in the line of Melchizedek.”
When we have the blessed opportunity to receive the Eucharist, we receive the whole gift of Christ’s sacrifice. The Eucharist is our nourishment, our “daily bread,” the source of the grace we need to follow the Lord and to offer ourselves with him. We have eaten the Bread from Heaven, and we have been commissioned to give his life to others.
Today’s Gospel invites us to reflect on how in the Eucharist the Lord feeds us and gives us divine life to share with others. In the face of a crowd of thousands of people, Jesus says to the Twelve, “Give them some food yourselves.” He says the same thing to us today, on this feast of Corpus Christi. Our natural reaction, like that of the Apostles, is to focus on the impossibility of it all. All we have are five loaves and two fish! On our own we are hopelessly inadequate to meet the enormous needs that we encounter each day. However, what we can do with five loaves and what Jesus can do with them is very different! With him, a little becomes an abundant feast. With God all things are possible!
Jesus, the true Bread from Heaven, has chosen to feed us with himself. Therefore, when we meet people in need, we really do have a way to “give them some food ourselves.” We have been given the grace to share his life with others, that they too may know and love him. With grateful hearts let us give to others what is most precious to us.
Am I aware that God gives us divine life through the Eucharist to share with others? How does the reception of the Eucharist at Mass provide nourishment to me? Do I personally draw strength from God by receiving his Body and Blood?
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 15, no. 5. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.