The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ: (Dt 8:2-3,14b-16a; I Cor 10:16-17 Jn 6:51-58)
The feast and its objectives: We celebrate the solemn feast of Corpus Christi. This Solemnity is three feasts in one: the feast of the Eucharistic sacrifice, the feast of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and the feast of the Real Presence of Jesus in this Sacrament. Corpus Christi is a doctrinal feast established for three purposes: 1) to give God collective thanks for Christ’s abiding presence with us in the Eucharist and to honor Him there; 2) to instruct the people in the Mystery, Faith and devotion surrounding the Eucharist, and 3) to teach us to appreciate and make use of the great gift of the Holy Eucharist, both as a Sacrament and as a sacrifice. In the three-year cycle of the Sunday liturgy, there is a different theme each year for this Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. In Cycle A the theme is the Eucharist as our food and drink; in Cycle B the emphasis is on the Eucharist as the sign of the covenant; and in Cycle C the theme focuses on the priesthood of Jesus. Although we celebrate the institution of the Holy Eucharist on Holy Thursday, the Church wants to emphasize its importance by a special feast, formerly called “Corpus Christi.” It was Pope Urban IV who first extended the feast to the universal Church.
Importance: 1) The two, last, precious gifts given to us by Jesus are the Holy Eucharist as our spiritual Food and Drink on Holy Thursday and Jesus’ mother Mary as our mother on Good Friday. 2) Corpus Christi is the celebration of the abiding presence of the loving God as Emmanuel – God-with-us – in order to give collective thanks to our Lord living with us in the Eucharist. 3) The feast gives us an occasion to learn more about the importance and value of his “Real Presence,” so that we may appreciate the Sacrament better and receive maximum benefit from receiving Jesus in Holy Communion.
We believe in the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist because 1) Jesus promised it after miraculously feeding the 5000. 2) Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist during his Last Supper. 3) Jesus commanded his disciples to repeat it in his memory. 4) “Nothing is impossible for God.”
We explain the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist by: “transubstantiation” meaning that the substance of the offered bread and wine is changed by Consecration to the substance of the risen Jesus’ glorified, Body and Blood by the action of the Holy Spirit, and its accidents remain the same.
Scripture summarized: 1) In the first reading, Dt 8:2-3, 14b-16a, Moses instructs the Israelites to “remember and not forget” the miraculous provision of food in the manna given to them to save their lives in the desert. The Church, through the Holy Mass, remembers and re-presents the Sacramental meal (Last Supper) and Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary sealed by the Father as acceptable by granting him Resurrection. In the second reading, Paul reminds the Corinthians that the Bread they share is the real Body of Christ, which makes their community also the Body of the risen Christ. In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus identifies himself as “the Living Bread that came down from Heaven,” thus linking himself with the manna in the wilderness, while assuring his disciples that, unlike those who ate manna, “One who eats this Bread will live forever.”
A Sacrament and a sacrifice: Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist both as a sacramental banquet and a sacrificial offering. As a Sacrament a) the Eucharist is a visible sign that gives us God’s grace and God’s life and b) as a meal it nourishes our souls. As a sacrifice a) the Eucharistic celebration is a representation or re-enactment of Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary, completed in His Resurrection. b) We offer Jesus’ sacrifice to God the Father for the remission of our sins, using signs and symbols.