Corpus Christi 2020

Bulletin A Corpus Christi  June 14, 2020

The feast of the Body and /blood of Christ is a feast that we should pause and reflect on the importance of the Eucharist. One bible chapter that describes the importance of Jesus in the Eucharist best is the Six chapter of John. 

Then Jesus explains, in high biblical imagery for God’s wisdom and Torah, eating this bread means taking Jesus in as spiritual nourishment, and wisdom. But there is a much greater depth to these words. Jesus now specifies that this bread that gives eternal life is his own flesh. He gives his flesh for the life of the world, in his perfect act of love and obedience on the cross. Once crucifies and transformed by the resurrection, it is Jesus’ own flesh that people must eat. 

The Jews react more strongly than before. They quarreled among themselves over Jesus’ statement about eating his flesh. Jesus’ commanded to eat his flesh, and later to drink his blood, is appalling to his hearers. The Torah expressly forbade the eating of blood or of flesh with any blood left in it ( Lev. 17:14;  19:26; Deut. 12:23); eating human flesh would be unthinkable . 

With this audience in shock, Jesus increases the boldness of his teaching. Eating the bread of life cannot be understood only as a metaphor  for the believer taking in God’s wisdom, for Jesus speaks of his flesh as the direct object of eating (6:51)/. The eucharistic reference is unmistakable because Jesus speaks only only of his flesh but also of his blood:  Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink of his blood, you do not have life within you.  

The divine Word has assumed a human nature in Jesus, and as the bread of life, Jesus has come down from heaven to give eternal life to those who receive him. This life becomes available through the sacrifice of the Son of Man on the cross, where Jesus gives his flesh and blood. The same flesh and blood offered by Christ to the Father on the ross and then resurrected to glory is given to us in the Eucharist. By consuming Christ’s glorified flesh. And blood in the Eucharist, we receive  eternal life and will also share in his resurrection:  I will raise him on the last day. 

Jesus’ words about his flesh and blood have a strong realism. The verb uses for “eat” in 6:54 is different from the verb used in the preceding conversation and is very graphic. In other Greek literature, it designates how animals eat. While obedient listening and faith are means of ingesting God’s word and wisdom, the change to a more concrete verb for eating accents the fact Christ’s offer of his body and blood entails something even more radical consuming his flesh and blood  in the Eucharist. All the material food and drink in the world,  including the manna and the multiplied loaves, are gifts from God to sustain mortal life. They are also imperfect foreshadowing of the true food and true drink by which God gives us eternal life. 

Jesu explains the Eucharist as the food of eternal life by drinking it to participation in the divine communion: Whoever eats my flesh and drinks mu blood remains in me and I in him.  In John   In john, the verb “remain” designates the mutual dwelling of the Father and Son the eternal relationship between them in which Jesus invites his disciples to share (see 1:39; 14:10; 15:4-10). By our consuming Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist, he dwells within us, and we in turn share in his divine life. The Eucharist is truly “holy communion” (Catechism 1391)/ As St. Paul writes to the Corinthians, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation [Greek koinonia, literally, “fellowship, communion”] in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:16).

Jesus continues,  Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.  Jesus spoke of his own possession of the divine life, which is the Father’s eternal gift to the Son. As the bread of life, Jesus came down from heaven to give “life to the world” (6:33).Jesus divine life is given to those who receive Jesus in faith as God’s wisdom and, even more profoundly, consume his eucharistic body and blood. This mutually between the father, Jesus, and the disciples is a mystery of love: Jesus prays to the Father, “I have made known to them your name. . . that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them” (17:26). 

Jesus closes the discourse by returning to the opening scriptural text (6:31) and summarizing his teaching. Jesus again identifies himself as the bread that came down from heaven to give eternal life, in contrast to the manna that sustained physical life and foreshadowed him:   Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.  John concludes by reporting that tis discourse was given  in the synagogue at Capernaum. 

Yours in Christ,  

 Fr. Vincent Clemente


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