Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Most Holy and Most Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, also known as the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, a great day and occasion dedicated to one of the most important central tenets of our Christian faith, in our belief and firm conviction that God Himself has given us His own Precious Body and His own Precious Blood to be partaken.
We believe that in the celebration of the Holy Mass, or more appropriately, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the priest minister as the representation of Christ Himself, acting in persona Christi, unites the offerings of the bread and wine made at the Offertory with the offerings that Christ Himself had made to His heavenly Father as our one and true Eternal High Priest from the Altar of His Cross at Calvary.
The bread and wine themselves have been completely and fundamentally transformed into the essence and material of the Lord’s Body and Blood Himself, in what is known as the Transubstantiation. Therefore, while the bread and the wine themselves still appear to be the appearance and texture of bread and wine, but the moment they are consecrated by the priest they become completely and truly the matter and the essence of the Lord’s own Body and Blood.
There are those who doubted the veracity and truth behind this seemingly mysterious and otherworldly transformation, as by our eyes and senses, by the appearance and by the taste and texture, the bread and wine seemingly remain unchanged as they were. However, this is where our faith is essential and necessary, because we truly believe that each and every one of our priests, moulded and ordained in the same order of priesthood as Christ is, and representing Christ Himself, has truly been given the power and authority to turn the bread and wine into Our Lord’s Body and Blood.
The Lord Himself made it clear in one occasion as He taught the people about Himself as the Bread of Life, the Living Bread Who has come down from heaven to the midst of His people, to give them the true Bread by which all of those who partake in this Bread will never hunger again and will have a share in the eternal life promised to all those who have received this Bread worthily and with faith.
He was not just mentioning this Bread of Life randomly at that occasion without reason. In fact, He was referring to His very own Flesh and Body, His own Blood as He made that teaching to the people. The Lord speaks only the truth, and therefore, how can the Lord bluff or lie to the people about His own Body when He spoke of it then? He spoke of His own Body as real Food, to be partaken by His people, His faithful ones.
And in today’s Gospel passage, we heard yet another occasion in the Gospel, when the Lord miraculously provided for the need of His people, in feeding the five thousand men and countless other women and children when they were hungry and without food, giving them bread and fishes to eat, out of merely five loaves of bread and two fishes that were available. This occasion was in fact a prefigurement and premonition of what was to come in the Sacrifice of the Cross, though the people then did not know it as yet.
As the Lord offered the bread and the fishes and giving thanks to His heavenly Father, He was representing His own upcoming sacrifice, in which He offered Himself instead as the perfect offering for the oblation and atonement of all of our sins. In the olden days, lambs and other animals were used in sacrifices according to the Jewish laws and customs to be the sin offerings to atone temporarily for one’s sins.
And in the time of the Passover, if we remember, the people chose a young, unblemished lamb to be slaughtered and as a sign of God’s providence and salvation, with the blood of the lamb being smeared and placed on the doorposts of the houses of the people of Israel, as sign for God’s Angels to ‘pass over’ them as they scourged the whole land of Egypt for the firstborn sons of the Egyptians.
Therefore, at the celebration of the Holy Mass, the Holy Sacrifice of Our Lord on the Cross, we mark our new Christian Passover, in which a new Covenant had been made by God to be binding between Him and all of us. He offered not the imperfect offerings of lambs and animals of this world, but His own Most Holy and Precious Body and Blood, as He was ‘slaughtered’ on the Cross for the crimes that His enemies had charged on Him.
He laid down Himself and offered His Body and Blood as the perfect sacrifice and offering before God, on the Cross which is His Altar. He is our Paschal Lamb by Whose Blood we have been marked as those who are faithful and worthy to be saved from eternal damnation and destruction because of our sins. By His Most Precious Blood, if we refer to the Book of the Revelations of St. John, the holy martyrs have been washed and made clean in their own outpouring of their blood, and thus, we too are made clean by His Blood.
The Lord Himself has given His all for our sake, laying down His own life and giving His own Most Holy and Precious Body and Blood for us all to partake, in that same Sacrifice at Calvary, to which each and every celebrations of our Holy Mass are united to, not as separate and different sacrifices as some would have misunderstood it, thinking that the Lord is being sacrificed and offered again and again, but in fact, the truth is every time the Eucharist is celebrated, it is the same Sacrifice of Our Lord at Calvary again.
And this is what we truly believe, that God Himself has truly become present in our midst, in the form of His own Most Precious Body and Blood in the Eucharist, and therefore, He is truly and really present in that Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist we receive and partake, a Holy Communion that each and every one of us members of the Church share with one another, and that is why we become the part of the Church, the Body of Christ.
If God Himself has come into our midst and entered into our bodies as we receive Him, then it is of the utmost importance that we understand what this means for us, and how we live our lives from now on, or else we scandalise our own faith and God by our unworthiness and by our own actions that are against His ways. What do I mean by this? I mean that if we believe that the Lord is truly present in the Eucharist then we will do our very best to make sure that we are properly prepared and worthy to receive Him.
Of course this must be understood also in the context that the Lord also seeks to gather all those who have been lost to Him, in extending His mercy and forgiveness to those who have sinned, and the Eucharist is one way that this reconciliation has been made in full. Yet, if one is to receive the Eucharist, the Most Precious and Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord in a state of continuing sin, then it is also a scandal to our faith.
We have to be properly predisposed and be prepared to receive Him into ourselves. And we do not have to look far but see how in the liturgical celebrations, we do our very best in everything, to make use of the finest and greatest materials to contain the most Precious matter of God’s Body and Blood, using only precious and incorruptible materials such as gold and silver for the chalices and ciborium used to contain the Sacred Host and Blood of the Lord.
And the Tabernacle housing the Lord’s Presence in that same Eucharist is also made using the finest materials, in a way comparable to that of the Temple of God in Jerusalem at the time of Solomon, where everything that is finest and good were used to adorn the whole Temple, with the Ark of the Covenant being the most precious of all, made using gold and finest materials, and so holy that no one was allowed to touch it.
Then, we know of an even better Tabernacle, the one who had contained the Lord Himself for nine months in her womb, and she is none other than Mary, Our Lord’s own Mother, who had borne our Lord and Saviour in her, and for this very purpose, the Lord made her, as the finest Tabernacle, not crafted by human hands unlike our chalices, ciborium, Tabernacles or the Temple of God in Jerusalem, but the perfect and unblemished human being, not tainted by the corruption of original sin, Mary, conceived and born without sin.
God did so much to prepare His own Mother to bear His holy and most sacred Presence in her, to show that when God is truly present in our midst, there can be nothing less than doing our best just as He has done His best, to bear His Presence, for nothing evil and wicked can truly exist in His Presence and survive. In the same way therefore, do we realise that when we receive the Lord into ourselves through the Eucharist, we too have become the Tabernacles and Temples of God’s own Presence?
St. Paul spoke of this, how by receiving the Lord into ourselves we have made ourselves into Living Temples, the Temples of His Presence and the Temples of the Holy Spirit. And if we sully the sanctity of this Holy Temple, that is our body, heart, mind and soul with the corruption of sin, it is indeed a great sin and wickedness we have committed against God Himself. That is why, as Christians, we are called to be worthy and to be ready to welcome the Lord’s Holy Presence into ourselves.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is where and when we are called to recommit ourselves in our faith, to live in accordance with our faith again if we have fallen away and went astray from the true faith. We are called to turn towards God, Who is ever loving and merciful towards us. We only need to ask, and He will forgive us our sins, and that is what the Sacrament of Reconciliation is for, readily available through our priests.
Let us all from now on truly show it in our lives, in our every actions, in how we consciously and actively participate in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and in how we reverently receive Him in the Most Holy Eucharist, to show everyone that truly, the bread and wine which we brought to Him in offering, has become nothing less than God’s own Most Holy and Precious Body and Blood, which He offers to us generously for the sake of our salvation.
May the Lord, Who is ever present in us, and Who is our Bread of Life continue to be with us, and guide us in our journey of life, so that each and every one of us who have worthily received Him into ourselves, may be transformed by His Presence into beings truly worthy to be called God’s own beloved people and God’s own beloved children. May God be with each and every one of us, now and always. Amen.