Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, also known as the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, celebrating this very important aspect of our faith that is central to our Christian beliefs. What is this central tenet and teaching, brothers and sisters? It is the belief that in the celebration of the Holy Mass, the Lord has appeared to us in the flesh and blood, in the Most Holy Eucharist at the Holy Sacrifice on the Altar. The bread and wine offered by the presider of the Mass has been turned into the Most Holy and Precious Body and Blood of the Lord.
This is the same belief that many of our separated brethren holding faithfully the Apostolic Tradition such as those in the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox churches also hold, as they all just like us, believe that the Lord is truly present in the Eucharist, in His complete presence, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, all entirely present in the bread and wine transformed in reality and matter into the matter and the nature of the Body and Blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. There are of course those who still deny this truth, claiming that the bread and wine are just merely symbolic or that they did not really turn into the Body and Blood of the Lord.
Some may come to think of that because although the bread in the Eucharistic host and the wine in the chalice remains in appearance, taste and our human recognition as bread and wine, but what is indiscernible by our human senses is the truth that by the same power and authority that the Lord has given to His Apostles, our bishops and priests who offered the bread and wine, had turned the bread and wine, by the Holy Spirit descending onto the gifts and offerings, they had been turned completely into the matter of the Body and Blood of Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.
All the early Church fathers and the Ecumenical Councils, the Apostolic traditions and others concurred that the Eucharist is none other and nothing less than the Lord Himself truly present in all completeness and perfection, not just merely symbolic or spiritually present as argued by those who reject this truth. We believe in the Doctrine of the Transubstantiation, which means exactly what I had just elaborated slightly earlier on, that the bread and wine has been completely transformed in matter and reality, fully and perfectly into the Body and Blood of the Lord, although in the appearance it is to us still that of bread and wine.
In fact there is an important parallel here to Our Lord’s own Incarnation in the Flesh, as He assumed the form and existence of Man. In what is another very important tenet of our faith, we believe that Jesus Christ, is both Man and Divine, having two natures that are distinct and different from each other, and yet are perfectly and completely united in His one Person, inseparable and indivisible. The world may perceive Him as a Man, and He did indeed appear as a Man, but in truth, He is fully Divine as well, as He showed His disciples at the Transfiguration and after He has risen from the dead.
Therefore, in a similar manner, the bread and wine although they have the appearance of bread and wine, and yet unmistakably they are fully by nature and reality, the very essence, matter and Body and Blood of Our Lord. However, it goes further that the bread and wine has also been completely transformed and are no longer just mere bread or mere wine. This is what we have seen, known, understood and acknowledged with the eyes of faith. We have received the truth from God, and we believed in it, and we put our faith in Him, because we believe in His Real Presence in the Eucharist.
And this is where then we have to appreciate that the Lord has given us all an immeasurably great gift as He gave to us nothing less than His own Precious Body and Blood, to be shared amongst us and to be partaken as we become members of His Body, the Church of God. All of us who share in this Holy Communion are therefore said to be in Communion with one another, united as the visible Body of Christ, the Church, and those who have not partaken in this same Eucharist, are separated and sundered away from this Body of Christ, our separated brothers and sisters, some of whom did not acknowledge the truth of the Real Presence in the Eucharist.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, yet, that is exactly what the Lord has told all of us, His people, plainly and clearly. In our Gospel passage today, as He gathered His disciples for His Last Supper with them, He told all of them as He broke the bread and offered it and the wine to the Lord, that the bread, is His Body, and the wine, is His Blood, plain and clear, concise and precise, never mentioning once that what He had done was just something symbolic or something that is not real. The same bread and wine transformed into the Body and Blood of the Lord at the Last Supper, which was not yet complete that night, is the same bread and wine at the Holy Mass transformed into our Lord’s Real Presence.
When He spoke of Himself as the Bread of Life before the assembled people, in one of His teaching sessions, He also referred to Himself as the Bread of Life, and explicitly and clearly mentioned that His Body is real Food, and His Blood is real Drink, and these things He spoke clearly and precisely too, without being ambiguous or figurative, and He clearly referred to all those who share in His Body and Blood that they will enjoy eternal life and will not perish, but live wonderfully with God forevermore. That moment is a foreshadowing of what would happen at the Last Supper and the Passion of the Lord.
The Lord completed His offering, of His own Body and Blood, as the High Priest representing all of us mankind, and at the same time as the Lamb of Sacrifice Himself, the Paschal Lamb, brought to the Altar on Calvary on Good Friday, the Altar of the Cross. And those who thought mistakenly that the Holy Mass is a repeat or reenactment of the Sacrifice of the Lord on the Cross failed to understand that at every single celebration of the Holy Mass, by all priests, bishops, and even the Pope, all of these are the very same Sacrifice that Christ has performed at Calvary, on the Cross that He had died on.
Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, the Altar on which the priests celebrate the Eucharist is the same Altar of the Cross on Calvary, and the same Body and Blood shed and given to us is the same sacrifice made two millennia ago, for all time and all occasions, the same offering and Sacrifice of the Lord, the Eternal High Priest, Who through His representatives, the ordained ministers, in persona Christi, or in the person of Christ, performed the very same sacrifice of Calvary at every single celebration of the Holy Mass, without exception.
When the Lord told His disciples ‘to do this in memory of Me’ it was not merely a memorial as how some misunderstood it. Instead, through that act, the Lord had authorised and empowered His disciples and their successors to be the priests ordained in His ministry, to be His priests representing Him in offering the most worthy sacrifice, the sacrifice of Our Lord Himself on the Cross. They are to perform the same offering and sacrifice of Our Lord that every Mass we are in fact celebrating and commemorating Our Lord’s Passion, His suffering and death for our salvation.
Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us ask ourselves, whether we have truly believed in the Lord’s Real Presence in the Eucharist, in His Most Precious and Holy Body and Blood that we celebrate every Mass, and which we share together as one Church, the one Body of Christ. Do we really appreciate God’s love given to us by the shedding of His Body and by the outpouring of His Blood? Remember that by His sacrifice, Our Lord has purchased us from our sins, and freed us from the certain destruction due to those sins.
If we truly believe in the Lord’s Real Presence in the Eucharist, then why we have not given Him the respect and worship that He truly deserves from us? Why have we instead acted as if the celebration of the Holy Mass is just like a mere ordinary gathering, and worse still, with inappropriate and profane music and attitudes unworthy of God? And how many of us also turned up at the Holy Mass unprepared both in body and soul, being dressed inappropriately and unrepentant from our sins?
There had been comments by those who had not believed in the Lord’s Real Presence, His Holy Body and Blood in the Eucharist precisely because as Catholics, we ourselves have not acted in the manner fitting the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. If only that we ourselves have behaved ourselves and acted appropriately, there can be so many more people who will be convinced of the truth and come to believe in the Lord and in His Real Presence as well. That is why, as Christians, we have to understand our faith well and we have to live up an upright and good life in accordance to our faith.
We have to remember the love that God has shown all of us by His coming into the world in order to save all of us and seal with us a New and Everlasting Covenant, one that will last forever, undoing the effects of our sins. The Covenant of God was sealed by none other than the outpouring of the Blood of the Lamb of God, Christ Himself, Who surrendered Himself in perfect obedience and suffering, so that through Him, and by His suffering and death we may experience and receive the sure promise and guarantee of eternal life in glory and true happiness with God.
Today therefore, on this Solemnity of Corpus Christi, of Our Lord’s Most Holy and Precious Body and Blood, broken and shared with us, let us all reflect on Our Lord’s most generous and enduring love for us, and we should also reflect on our attitudes towards the Lord, truly present in His full Divinity, His presence in the Flesh in the bread and wine transformed into the essence and reality of His Being. Let us all truly profess faith in the belief of the Real Presence of Our Lord from now on, striving to do our best to glorify the Lord especially at every celebrations of the Holy Mass, where He is truly present before all of us.
And let us all also strive to make our lives holy and worthy, to be exemplary in our way of living, in the most Christian manner possible, that as we share in the Lord and receive Him in the Eucharist, we may truly be worthy to be the dwelling place of Our Lord, the Temples of the Holy Spirit, of His Real Presence entering into us and uniting with us, body and soul. May the Lord be with us always, through His Most Precious and Holy Body and Blood, that through Him we may be sanctified and made worthy, and in all things, we may become great role models and inspiration for one another. Amen.