The words the priest says at the Consecration of the Mass,
The words which I will have the incredible privilege of saying in a few moments echo the words that Jesus himself spoke at the Last Supper.
“Take this all of you and eat of it for this is my body
This is the chalice of my blood”
And Catholics have always taken Jesus at his word.
From the very beginning of the Church we have always believed that If Jesus said this is my Body, it is…
If He said this is my blood it is.
We believe that Jesus intended the literal meaning of the words when he spoke them at the last supper.
If God can make the whole universe he can surely change a piece of bread into his body and a cup of wine into his blood even if they don’t change in appearance.
Many Christians simply don’t believe that Jesus literally meant what he said.
They take the bible literally in so many instances but just can’t take it literally in this one.
They think he was speaking symbolically or allegorically rather than literally and it’s easy to see how someone could come to that conclusion until you read today’s Gospel. John Chapter 6
It is called the bread of life discourse and in it we just heard Jesus say
“The bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world."
When the people listening to Jesus began to complain that it didn’t make sense if you understood his words literally he doubled down and said,
"Amen, amen”, Remember in the Gospels whenever you hear Amen Amen it’s important
“Amen Amen I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you. “
Then many people who were listening to Jesus who heard him speak said to themselves this is crazy he can’t mean it literally and they walked away.
That day was a very sad day for our Lord because he lost many followers simply because they refused to take him at his word
When this happened Jesus didn’t run after them and saying wait I misspoke, I meant what I said symbolically rather than literally.
He didn’t run after them and say wait you misunderstood, he sadly let them go and later on in the chapter he said to his Disciples are you going to leave me too?
Peter responded “Lord where could we go you have the words of everlasting life.”
Today is the feast of Corpus Christi or the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.
Today the church asks us to reflect upon and be grateful for the mystery of the Eucharist through which Jesus is himself broken and shared among us.
With the Eucharist, Jesus wishes to be present to us and even more than simply being present to us, Jesus longs to be in communion with us.
That’s where the phrase “Holy Communion” comes from. We were made to be in relationship and Jesus desires to be intimately united with us.
With the Eucharist Jesus longs to satisfy our hunger with heavenly food.
All of us hunger for something and in the end only God can and will satisfy our hungers.
Every desire we have is in some way a reflection of our desire for God.
In the Eucharist we recall both the last supper and the suffering and death of our Lord on the cross.
The Eucharist is more than just a meal it is also a sacrifice and through the Sacrifice of the Mass Jesus offers up his Body and Blood to God in remission for our sins and the sins of the whole world.
And so every Sunday the Church gathers the People,
We listen and reflects on the Word
We break and the bread, which becomes the body and blood of Christ
And we enter into holy communion with our Lord and Savior who longs to be a part of our lives.
We do this and have done this not because the church needs an excuse to gather but simply because Jesus told us to when he said “Do this in Memory of Me” Those words were meant for the 12 and those words were meant for every follower of Christ for all time.
Finely, with the Eucharist we are transformed, changed and become more and more like the image and likeness of God.
While this change may not be apparent to us and those we live with, when we receive the Eucharist worthily we are indeed changed.
In some small way we become more and more like Christ and we are better able to conform ourselves to his will.
Centuries ago St. Thomas Aquinas summed up the meaning and mystery of the Eucharist In the best possible way when he wrote this prayer…
Please repeat it after me.
O Holy Banquet
In which Christ is received
The memory of his passion is recalled
The soul is filled with grace
And the promise of future glory is given to us
He have given us bread from heaven
Containing in itself all delight.
May we never miss an opportunity to receive Our Lord in his Body and in his Blood.