June 22, 2014
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ
This Gospel is part of a larger portion of John known as the Bread of life
Discourse. It begins with the multiplication of the loaves and ends with many
disciples leaving Jesus, followed by Peter's beautiful profession of Faith,
"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to
believe and are convinced that you are the Holy one of God." There is a lot
happening in this chapter of John's Gospel, and for the Solemnity of the Body
and Blood of Christ we hear the center piece of the chapter when Jesus teaches
that He is the Bread of Life.
John 6: 51 - 58
The miracle of the multiplication of the loaves satisfied the hunger of the
crowd that had gathered to hear the Sermon on the Mount. It was amazing that
thousands were fed from the five loaves and two fish, and in addition to that
there were twelve baskets of leftovers. After this miracle a large crowd
continued to closely follow Jesus. Where they following Jesus because of who he
was, or because they found the ticket to free meals? Jesus challenges them on
and four times tells them that he is the bread of life, or the living bread. He
is even clearer when he tells them that his flesh is real food and his blood is
real drink. It is at the end of this discourse that some made the decision to
stop following Jesus for they found this teaching too hard. And it was then
that Jesus questioned the Apostles and reminded them that they also had the
freedom to leave, but Peter, speaking on their behalf, made the beautiful
profession of faith.
Today we celebrate the gift of Jesus in the Eucharist. The bread and wine
become for us the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. How can this be?
It is by transubstantiation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1376) tells
us, "Transubstantiation: The scholastic term used to designate the unique change
of the Eucharistic bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.
'Transubstantiation" indicates that through the consecration of the bread and
the wine there occurs the change of the entire substance of the bread into the
substance of the Body of Christ, and of the entire substance of the wine into
the Blood of Christ - even though the appearances or 'species' of bread and wine
remain." Yes, his flesh is real food and his blood real drink, and he gives it
to us in the Blessed Sacrament.
A friend of mine studied in Japan and her host asked many questions about the
Catholic Faith and was amazed at the belief in the real presence. As she was
preparing to leave the host told her that he still did not understand this "Real
Presence." He said that if he believed that the host and wine were God he would
not be walking up the aisle, but crawling on his belly. We are blessed in that
we have the ability to receive the Body and Blood of Christ every week, if not
every day, and of praying before the Tabernacle. Jesus is the Bread of Life, and
in the Eucharist he gives us himself so that we may have life. Do we take the
Real Presence for granted? Maybe we could be more mindful of his presence when
we enter a church or chapel. Maybe as we walk up the aisle for Holy Communion
we can be more mindful, not of what we are about to receive, but of who we are
about to receive.
Fr. Killian Loch, O.S.B.