SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST.
COMMEMORATION OF THE INSTITUTION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST.
And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” – Luke 22:14-19
This is also known as the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. This feast celebrates the institution of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper and the permanent presence of Jesus Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is Christ himself, the Bridegroom of his Spouse, the Church. Through the Mass, in which the Eucharist is consecrated, time and space are mysteriously “opened” and the Last Supper and the Passion of Christ become present.
Through the Eucharist, Christ becomes physically present in the Church, keeping his promise that he would always be with us. And because the Eucharist is preserved in the Tabernacle, we can be with him anytime we want. In the Eucharist, we eat the Body and drink the Blood of Christ in Holy Communion, and obtain everlasting life.
To receive the Eucharist worthily, one must be a baptized Catholic in a state of grace, understand what one is about to receive, and have kept the Eucharistic fast. Some of the effects of a worthy reception of the Eucharist are intimate communion with Christ, deeper union with the Body of Christ, forgiveness of venial sins, and an increase in graces and virtues in the soul.
The Church reserves Consecrated Hosts in the Tabernacle so that the Eucharist can be brought to the sick and so that the faithful can worship the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen once remarked that at the end of your earthly life, either God or Satan will be able to claim your soul, to say in effect, “You’re mine”.
Lord Jesus, we faithfully and fervently commemorate at every Holy Mass held in the Church, your mandate to your apostles, when on the evening before your death you instituted the Eucharist and commissioned your disciples to do the same, in remembrance of you. In doing so, the Church takes literally the words that you spoke over bread and wine, “This is my body… this is my blood”.
This faith in your literal presence in the transformed gifts of bread and wine has become ever stronger in the history of the Church, so that it is solemnly defined that in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist your body and blood together with your soul and divinity, and therefore the whole Christ, are truly, and substantially contained.
On Corpus Christi, the whole Church publicly confesses your words: ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world’. In the transformed bread, the world sees the beginning of a transformation that has already begun and will one day fully encompass all that has been created, in a new heaven and a new earth.
May this feast day of Corpus Christi help us all to remember that in the Eucharist in Catholicism, you are not a symbol, but that you are God and Man, the Second Person of the Trinity, the same yesterday, today and forever. You allowed yourself to be put to death at Calvary so that we may have Eternal Life with you in Heaven, by the ongoing process of sanctification here on earth, that we might grow in grace and holiness, in your Holy Name. Amen