Thursday, 31 May 2018 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, also known as Corpus Christi. On this day, we celebrate the very important aspect of our Christian faith, and especially the faith as preserved in our One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, as we believe that the Lord Jesus, Our God and Saviour, has given us His own Body and His own Blood, for the sake of our salvation.

The roots of this exist in the Old Testament, from the time of the Exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt, when the Lord had mercy on His people, stranded and suffering in Egypt under the tyranny of the Pharaoh and the Egyptians who enslaved them and attempted to exterminate them at occasions. At that time, God sent them Moses, to be their deliverer, through whom He performed ten great plagues that struck at the Egyptians.

The last of the ten plagues was the greatest of all of them. The Lord decreed that all firstborn child of the Egyptians shall be destroyed, because of their Pharaoh’s stubbornness and his refusal to let the people of Israel go free. The Lord sent His Angels of death to scour the whole land of Egypt, and many of the children of the Egyptians, right down to their animals perished on that night.

However, the children of the Israelites were saved and spared from death, as the Lord instructed Moses to tell them to prepare an unblemished lamb for each household, and slaughter it, to prepare and celebrate a Passover worthy of Him, the very first Passover celebrated by the people of God. The lamb’s blood was applied on the doorposts and the lintels of the doors, marking the household as those belonging to God’s people.

Seeing the blood of the lamb splashed across the doorposts, the Angels of death bypassed over their houses, and spared them from death. Ever since, the offering and sacrifice of blood of animals became associated with the grace, mercy and forgiveness of God. In fact, since the very beginning, from the time of Cain and Abel, and from the time of Abraham, the people of God have offered animal sacrifices to God. But it was then in the Book of Leviticus that God prescribed the rules regarding sacrifices, that the priests belonging to the tribe of Levi would offer regular sacrifices for the people of God.

Moses slaughtered and offered the blood of animals when he sealed the Covenant which God made with His people, and the blood was sprinkled onto the Israelites, as a sign of the Covenant sealed by the blood of the lamb and the animals. But that Covenant was broken many times by the people, who were unfaithful, and did not remain true to the Covenant which God had made with them. Instead, they worshipped pagan gods and idols, such as the golden calf, and committed what were wicked in God’s eyes.

Thus, they should have deserved death and destruction, as the punishment for sin is death. Ever since the beginning, when mankind first sinned against God, we should have deserved to be annihilated, for Adam and Eve, our ancestors, have disobeyed God and refused to listen to Him. Instead, they chose to follow and listen to the words of Satan, tempting them to sin. However, the truth is that God loves each and every one of us so much that He was willing to give us a second chance.

That is why, He had mercy on the Israelites when they sinned and disobeyed Him. If we read through the Book of Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, as well as the subsequent history of the Israelites in the Book of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings and the Prophets, we can see just how frequent that the people of God disobeyed Him and rebelled against Him. Yet, God Who punished them also showed them mercy and forgiveness.

The priests of the Lord offered daily and regular sacrifices for the sake of the people, with the animal sacrifices and the blood as prescribed in the Book of the Leviticus, and the same laws and regulations, the practices and the sacrifices were passed down for many years and centuries throughout the history of Israel, right down to the time of the New Testament, that is the time when the Lord Jesus, the Saviour of the world, finally came into the world.

And St. Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews, our second reading today, mentioned how the Lord Jesus is the new and the true High Priest, Who came into the world as the perfect fulfilment of God’s long promised salvation, as the Messiah of the whole race of man. And why did St. Paul refer to the Lord Jesus as the one and true High Priest? That is because the Lord did just exactly as what the priests of old had done, offering sacrifices to God for our sake.

But the Lord Jesus did not just act like any other priests, offering the blood of lambs and other animals. Instead, He offered Himself, as the perfect sacrifice, as the One, the only One through Whom the whole race of man could be saved. He alone is worthy, and His Blood alone is good enough to redeem all of us mankind, something that no blood of animals or lambs could have done.

Unfortunately, there are many of those among us who have doubted the Lord, and they doubted that the Lord gave us His Body to eat and His Blood to drink. There are those among us, who think and argue that the Lord was merely giving us a representation or a symbol of His Body and Blood, instead of the Real and true Body and the true Blood. But Jesus Himself had made it clear in the Gospel of St. John, that unless someone eats of the Body and drinks the Blood of the Son of Man, that is Jesus, they would not have eternal life.

And again, He added that, His Body is real food, and His Blood is real drink. This means that, in the Eucharist, the central focus of our faith, is found the Real Presence of Our Lord Himself, in the bread and wine, transformed in essence and reality into the essence and reality of the Most Precious and Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, respectively. They are not just mere symbols or representations. This is the Lamb of God Himself, the One through Whom God had saved the world.

Through the giving of Himself, Christ has given us all a new hope, one that nothing else in this world can give to us. By dying on the cross and by the outpouring of His Blood, spilled at His crucifixion, He has marked for Himself a people, those who have been called and set aside for God’s purpose, all those who believe in Him and are therefore called as Christians. We believe in Christ Who died on the cross for us, offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice to reconcile us to God, on the Altar of Calvary.

Then, if we look deeper into it, this is why all of us believe that when the priests celebrate the Holy Mass, they are in fact reenacting the same sacrifice performed by Our Lord Jesus Christ. The same sacrifice happens on the Altar, that is exactly the very same sacrifice on the cross of Christ at Calvary. It is not a repeat, or a mere memorial, or merely a celebration, but in fact, by the authority and power that Christ gave to His priests, through their consecrated hands, He has made them ‘Alter Christus’, that is representation of Christ Himself.

At the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass therefore, the same singular event of the crucifixion, when the Lamb of God was slaughtered and offered for the sake of our salvation, happened, at every single celebrations of the Mass, and through that, the Body and Blood of the Lord are given to us, a new Covenant which He made with us and sealed with His Blood, and a new Hope that He has granted to us.

Thus, what we see at the Holy Mass, is that the bread and the wine which are brought up and offered by the priests, are transformed, just as the Lord at the Last Supper spoke to His disciples as He passed the bread and wine to them, “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood”. The Body and the Blood of Christ has come unto us, and we receive Christ into ourselves, by the reception of the Most Holy Eucharist, that is Christ’s Body and Blood.

However, let us all now ask ourselves, brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us ask ourselves, just how much we truly believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist. How many of us lack the proper respect and honour due to the Eucharist, knowing that God Himself is truly present? How many of us receive the Eucharist unworthily while in the state of sin, or receiving Him in the way that we are merely going through the motion?

There are accounts of how people who did not believe in the Real Presence, said that they refused or failed to believe simply because, they saw many of us Christians, who did not believe in the Lord’s Real Presence in the Eucharist. Our words may show that we believe, but our actions show otherwise. How can we then expect others to believe when we ourselves do not truly believe and genuinely believe in the Lord’s Real Presence, in His Most Holy Body and Blood?

What do I mean by all these? Many of us casually went up to receive the Eucharist, without proper honour for the Lord, Who has made Himself so small so as to be present in the bread transformed into His Body. By that action, God wanted us to be saved, through the worthy reception of the Eucharist. However, many of us receive the Lord in a state of sin and as unrepentant sinners.

And thus, there are also many of us who blatantly do not believe that God can be present in the bread and wine transformed into His Body and Blood. Our ignorance and apathy is no different from those who did not believe in the Real Presence. Liturgical abuses and the many abuses of the reception of the Most Holy Eucharist happened, and it scandalised our faith and our belief.

Many of those whose account I mentioned earlier refused to believe in the Real Presence, because they said that if that is truly the Lord present in the bread and wine, they would have prostrated themselves and trembled in fear before the Lord’s presence. That is why our apathy and lack of faith caused many others to lose faith too. And what then, can be done in order to resolve this matter?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi, let us all make a new resolution and commit ourselves to a much greater reverence to the Lord truly present in the Most Holy Eucharist. Let us endeavour to lead a holier and more worthy life, worthy of God, by turning ourselves from sin and embracing what God has shown us and taught us.

Let us all be exemplary in our actions, that by our faith and our belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, Who has given us His own Body and Blood, for the sake of our salvation, we may be saved from certain destruction, because of our sins. Let us all draw closer to the Lord, and remember that, because we have receive the Lord Himself, physically and really present in the bread and wine, transformed into the substance and reality of His Body and Blood, we have become the Temple of God’s Holy Presence.

And ultimately, each and every one of us as Christians are part of the Church of God, which He Himself has said to be His Body. The Church is the Body of Christ, made from all of us, who are in Communion with one another. The meaning of Holy Communion itself, therefore stemmed from the fact that all of us who worthily receive the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, are in Communion with each other and are part of the one Body of Christ.

May God therefore be with us all, and may He give us the strength to live worthily of Him, that we may always keep in mind that we have the Lord Himself dwelling in us, in our bodies, in our whole being. May all of us be ever more faithful, day after day, and indeed, united together as one people, in God’s one Church, become one Body, one Spirit in Christ. Amen.

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