This feast which may have been celebrated last Thursday 60 days after Easter but it has been transferred to the following Sunday in many places around the world, including the United States. Today’s feast honors the Body and Blood of Christ and his True Presence in the Eucharist.
We begin in on of the books of Moses, Deuteronomy. Moses say to the people “Remember how for forty year now the Lord has been leading us in the desert, testing us to see if we are fit to keep him commandments. He’s made us hungry but he has fed us with manna, to show us that it is not by bread alone that we should live, but by every word from the mouth of God.” Moses tacks on a bit about water and how God brought water from the rock as well. God provides us will all the sustenance we need in this bread from heaven.
This week we have another short pericope from Paul. Today we hear from the first letter to the Corinthians. Paul ask if the cup of blessings we bless is it not participation in the blood of Christ and the bread we break is it not participation in the body. Paul continues saying that the bread is one and although we are many all partake in the same loaf. Sure Paul isn’t that clear here like usual but I think he’s trying to make a good point that the Eucharistic feast is not just sharing the same body and blood with everyone us but we, the congregation, become one in Christ. As the John Foley, SJ hymn (One Bread, One Body) goes “And we, though many throughout the Earth, we are one body in this one Lord.” The Epistle is followed by a sequence Lauda Sion (Sing Zion) it was written by Thomas Aquinas in the mid 1260s at the request of Pope Urban IV for the use on Corpus Christi.
Turning to the Gospel reading we hear from John, Jesus told the Jewish crowds “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.” This echoes the manna that was sent down to the Israelites as they wandered in the desert. Jesus continues “whoever eats this bread will live forever and the bread I give is my flesh for the world.” This is that part that troubles the crowd, “Eating flesh?!” seems to be their general reaction. This is not Christ being metaphorical saying the bread and wine are just symbols of his body and blood but they are really and truly his flesh and blood. It is typical that there is a Eucharist procession after mass is over followed by Eucharist adoration. There have been some miracles around the world where the host becomes flesh and wine becomes blood if you have some spare time this week perhaps read up or watch a documentary about these events.