Sunday, June 6, 2010

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

What gift could be greater than the the gift of God Himself? The Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ and Jesus is the second person of the Trinity. He is fully God and fully man, not half God and half man. When we receive Communion we are partaking in the Divinity of Christ as well as his humanity because the two are inseparable. We consume Him and He consumes us. This is truth.

There are Catholics that do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This brings to mind the Gospel of John when many walked away from Jesus because they could not accept his words. "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (Jn 6:52)  Jesus let them walk away rather than compromise the truth of his words.  "As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him."  (Jn 6:66)  What strikes me about this passage is "many of his disciples returned to their former way of life". In refusing to accept the truth they refused to be transformed and returned to their old ways. They didn't "walk with him" anymore.

We must walk with Jesus. He is "the way and the truth and the life" as he states in the Last Supper Discourses (see John chapter 14). Through the Eucharist we come to share in the life of Christ.  Throughout the Old Testament and the New we see prefigurations of the Eucharist. The "showbread" , the "manna" in the desert, the priest Melchizedek who brought out the bread and wine. Even the place and manner of Jesus' birth points to the Eucharist. Bethlehem means "house of bread" and Jesus was born in a manger (a feeding trough). Where is the difficulty with understanding the truth about the Eucharist?

I find it interesting that there were twelve baskets of bread left over after Jesus miraculously fed the crowds (Jn. 6:13). Twelve is usually a symbol of the twelve tribes of Israel which signifies the Church. I connect this with the passages about the showbread in Leviticus 24: 5-9, another foreshadowing of the Eucharist.  It points to Jesus feeding his church the "Bread of Life" in every age.

"How I hate this folly of not believing in the Eucharist, etc.! If the Gospel be true, if Jesus Christ be God, what difficulty is there?"                       Blaise Pascal


  1. Mary,
    I just returned from my parish's Corpus Christi procession. It was held after the noon Mass which was very crowded-unfortunately only about 30 stayed for the procession. It made me wonder about exactly what you have written here- how many Catholics truly believe in Christ's Real Presence in the Eucharist? While I was glad to see the 30 or so, I was still saddened to see even more walk away.

  2. Karin,
    Your comment is like an exclamation point on my post sad to say. The priest at my church was discussing this today. He mentioned that 40-50% of Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence.

  3. Mary- that is a painfully staggering statistic!
    Thanks for your comment on my post- I just replied to it there.

  4. Scary, isn't it? I don't know where he found the statistics. I thought this was awfully high but certainly possible in light of the number of Catholics that don't even attend weekly Mass.

  5. Thank you Mary for this great post. There are many today who have difficulty understanding the real meaning of the Eucharist. Why did Jesus suggest that we eat His body and drink His blood? Is this the only way that He would live within us? Compared to the Holy Spirit descending and entering the disciples all those years ago; and as He still does today.

    It's a true mystery which still divides many Christians.

    Check out this website:

    God bless.

  6. Victor,
    That stumps me. I know He feeds us through various means but Communion is important. The Church and the Bible clearly state this. Do you know more about this? I'll check out the site, too. Maybe that will shed some light.

  7. Hi Mary,

    You're right. The Bible mentions the body and blood of Christ in the Last Supper, and in the passages of St John you quote above. But unfortunately the Catholic Church does not make it clear WHY Jesus said we should eat His body and drink His blood. Is this essential in order that Christ abides in us? Could He not abide in us through the Holy Spirit descending on us?

    That's why there's so much debate about this with other non-Catholic churches who see the whole thing as a symbolism not to be taken literally.

    I'm also surprised that the story in the website I mentioned above has not been well publicised in the Catholic Church. The previous Pope visited the church in question and I understand the story is authenticated by the Vatican. Yet, when I mentioned it to our priest, he knew nothing about it.

    No wonder people are confused.

    It'll be interesting to know what your priests, and those of your readers, think of this website and story.

    Sorry to have taken so long on your Blog Mary.

    God bless.

  8. Wow, Mary. That is all I can say. Thank you for sharing.

  9. "Jesus let them walk away rather than compromise the truth". This is such a true statement and one that I will cling too when others challenge my beliefs (it is amazing how family members like to challenge you!)
    On a post I read yesterday someone said the Eucharist is the best gift we have this side of heaven!

    Amen to that!

    Wonderful post Mary.

  10. Victor,
    I added the site you recommended to favorites. Thanks! It was interesting to read that the blood type in approved Eucharistic miracles is type AB. I am familiar with the Eucharistic miracle in Lanciano, Italy but I didn't realize how well studied by scientists it was. That it was cardiac tissue doesn't surprise me :)
    I'm still stumped about the rest of what you brought up. The disciple received Communion BEFORE the Holy Spirit descended upon them because they didn't receive the Holy Spirit until Pentecost. Both priests at my Parish stress the importance of Communion and have given great sermons on it. We are very fortunate to have great priests there.

  11. Thanks JBR! I hope your "SONDAY" (I like how you word that) was great:)

  12. DG,
    It is a great gift of love, isn't it?

    Your poem was thought provoking and beautiful. I am still thinking about it today. Thanks for sharing it!

  13. Hi Mary,

    Sorry to return to this post yet again. Please keep it here as others may wish to comment on this subject too. Thanx for your comments on my Blog.

    I have now written to a priest I know and I hope he gives me an answer which I am able to post on my Blog. Specifically I asked WHY Jesus said we must eat His flesh and drink His blood. The Catholic Church teaches us that through Communion Christ abides in us. Yet, He did abide in the disciples through the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. And He still abides in us now when people are filled with the Spirit. So why should it be necessary to eat His flesh and drink His blood.

    You can understand why people consider it as just symbolism and figure of speech said at the time in a different language with different idioms and traditions. And in translation we may have taken it too literally. One can understand also why 40-50% of Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence.

    They don't know what to believe because the Catholic Church does not always explain things well. In my experience, the priests here tell you to believe without question.

    I hope the priest I wrote to replies. Perhaps other readers can ask their priests and give their answers here.

    Thank you for raising this very important subject.

    God bless

  14. I am interested in his response. I've been thinking about it all day. I don't think that the Catholic Church takes this passage too literally, I think that other Churches don't take it literally enough. After reading John chapter six again I am seeing very little wiggle room here. Jesus is very firm about this. He actually stresses it to the point where many walk away. My husband actually converted to Catholicism because of the Gospel of John. Powerful passage! I am thinking that it is very important to receive Communion because of our fallen human nature. Jesus is fully God and fully man and receiving Him in Communion helps heal our bodies, souls, and spirits. The Holy Spirit is pure spirit and resides within us too but Jesus blood actually "runs through our veins" so to speak in that we consume the Eucharist which is Jesus and our human natures are lifted up to become more like Him. HE lifts us and makes us whole. I think Communion affects all aspects of our nature. Everything we eat affects us so the Eucharist must have infinite effects. Maybe we won't see this completely until we are in heaven.
    Jesus is God and can do whatever He wants. He chose to institute the Eucharist so I am sure it's for a great reason. For myself, I've noticed that the more often I receive Communion - the closer to God I feel.
    Having said all that...I am still curious and hope the priest you wrote to replies!