The readings from this reflection: Gn 14:18-20; Ps 110:1,2,3,4; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Jn 6:51; Lk 9:11b-17
Several weeks ago, on Thu., April 14, 2022, we began the Sacred Triduum, or the holy three days, in which “the Church solemnly celebrates the greatest mysteries of our redemption” (The Roman Missal, introduction to the Sacred Paschal Triduum, no. 1). We shared with the Lord Jesus at the table of the last supper, grieved for him through his passion and death, and rejoiced with him in his glorious Resurrection.
For seven weeks, we continued to rejoice in the great mystery of his resurrection and the gift of life that he gained for us, and then we celebrated the great 50th day: Pentecost and the guiding gift of the Holy Spirit calling the Church to continue the mission of proclaiming the message of salvation in Christ.
We continue on that mission on June 19, 2022, the Solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Those words, “The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ,” conjure different thoughts in the minds of different Catholics. Some think of the physical elements of bread and wine that, through the power of the Holy Spirit and the words of consecration, become the presence of the Lord with us and remain and abide with us as that “real presence,” even after the celebration of Mass has ended. Some others think of the Church itself, the Body of Christ, truly present where two or three are gathered in his name. Still others, while not denying either of the two understandings mentioned above, think of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ as the celebration of the Eucharist. This third understanding seems to be the emphasis of the Church, concerning the Great Solemnity. For in the opening prayer at Mass we pray, “O God, who in this wonderful sacrament have left us a memorial of your Passion. …”
In fact, we cannot reflect on The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ without all three of the above being part of our thinking. The Lord allowed himself to be sacrificed upon a cross to give us his life, the same life that he passed on to his apostles on the night of the Last Supper when he said, “Take, eat, this is my Body; take, drink, this is my blood. Do this in memory of me.” He joined them to himself and himself to them. He does the same for us when we recall the same words.
In the celebration of the Eucharist, he feeds us for the mission, and strengthened and nourished by that heavenly food, He sends us forth on that mission. We are joined with him and to him and he is joined with and to us. He is the head; we are His Body. What a great gift the Father of all creation has given!
On the Solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, may we remember that, as we share in the “Bread of the Angels,” we are fed and sent to announce that he who died has risen and has called all of creation to be joined with him before the Father in the Spirit: He remains with us today and always and forever and ever.
The Very Rev. Daniel Robles is pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Poplar Bluff, and St. Benedict Parish, in Doniphan. He also serves as Dean of Deanery 7 of the diocese.