I pray for abundant blessings of Divine Love for all who read these words! This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood Christ (Corpus Christi is the short form). The Catholic Church has always believed and taught that the sacrament of the Eucharist literally is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. This belief comes from the very words of Jesus, from what he taught. In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us “my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink, whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” (Jn 6:55-56) A slow and prayerful read of chapter six in John’s gospel is a riveting experience, and I’d love to tell you why.
After Jesus had performed a miracle of feeding thousands of people with a few loaves and fish, a crowd of people came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found Jesus, he had these words to say: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that parishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”(Jn 6:26-27). A few moments later in the dialogue, Jesus would reveal “the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” Now here’s where things get interesting….
At first pass, the invitation from Jesus to eat His body and drink His blood brings revulsion and quarreling to some of the listeners (Jn 6:52). Instead of saying, “I’m not speaking literally”, Jesus doubles down on the literal meaning of what He is saying. He continues, “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, whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” (Jn 6:53-54). At this, John tells us that even some of the disciples responded: “this saying is hard, who can accept it?” (Jn 6:60) And tragically, “as a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him.” (Jn 6:66)
In the face of this adversity, Jesus teaches his listeners that “it is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail, the words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (Jn 6:63) It is crucial to understand rightly what Jesus is saying here. He isn’t saying He’s not speaking literally. The phrase “the flesh is of no avail” was a common Jewish idiom at the time that essentially meant: you can’t figure this out on your own, you need God’s wisdom to understand it. It’s the same idiom Jesus uses when Peter correctly says to Jesus, “you are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Mt 16:16) Jesus famously responded to Peter, “Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” (Mt: 16:17) It’s the same idiom expressed in slightly different words but speaking the same truth in both regards: divine wisdom given through the gift of faith reveals to believers the truth of who Jesus is, and His truth of what the Eucharist is. According to Jesus, both are matters of tremendous importance.
To be continued friends…
Love you all,