Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday the Church celebrates the great Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, celebrating the great and Most Precious Body and Blood of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, Who has given His Body and Blood for us to partake, in Holy Communion of the Church, the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist. On this day, celebrating this great and most important aspect of our faith, in the celebration of what is popularly known as Corpus Christi, all of us are brought together and reminded of this great real and spiritual union all of us have as the parts and members of the same Church of God, the Body of Christ, that is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. On this day, all of us are called to remember our belief in the Real Presence in the Eucharist, as we all believe that the bread and wine offered by the priests at the Holy Mass is truly turned into the real and true essence, material and substance of the Lord Himself in the Flesh and Blood.
All of us believe that the bread and wine while they may seem to appear still like bread and wine, but we believe that they have been completely turn in reality, essence and all things to the very essence of the Body and Blood of the Lord Himself, and this is what we all know as the Real Presence in the Eucharist. We believe wholeheartedly that when we receive the Eucharist in Holy Communion, all of us are not just merely remembering the event of His giving us His Body and Blood, and we are also not just commemorating the event of the Last Supper and the Lord’s sacrifice on His Cross. Instead, all of us truly believe that the Holy Mass itself is the same Sacrifice that the Lord had made on His Cross, through time immemorial and beyond the boundaries of time and space, uniting all Christians, all sharing in the Most Precious Body and Blood of the Lord that has been given to us, for us to eat, drink and share amongst us all as the tangible sign of unity in us all as Christians, members of the same Body of Christ, the Church.
That is why today, as we listened to the readings taken from the Sacred Scriptures and ponder upon the mystery and the important tenet of this Real Presence in the Eucharist, of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord that we have partaken, all of us are called to be faithful bearers of this truth, and to proclaim the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist, as our faith has required of us. If we ourselves have not truly believed in the Lord’s Real Presence, His Most Holy and Precious Body and Blood truly present in the Eucharist that we receive, then how can we convince others around us, all those whom we encounter in life, that the Real Presence is the truth? Unfortunately, too many Christians out there have not had a good and proper understanding of what the Real Presence in the Eucharist is all about, and how significant it is that we have received and partaken of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord unto ourselves.
In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Deuteronomy in which we heard of the exhortation which Moses, the leader of the people of God, the Israelites, gave to the people not long before they end their long journey and sojourn in the desert after their Exodus from Egypt. Back then, the people of Israel had lived through a long forty years of journey through the desert that lies between the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan, the ancestral lands promised to the Israelites. What should have been a rather short and quick journey from their land of slavery to a land of overflowing abundance, of milk and honey, of great blessings of God, became a great detour and long wait because of the stubbornness and rebelliousness of the Israelites who have frequently tried to walk in their own path and having constantly been refusing to follow the Lord and His commands.
Yet, the Lord still patiently cared for His people, while chastising those who have rebelled and sinned against Him. He truly loved them all much like a father cares for his children. And like a father who truly cares for the well-being of his children, the Lord shows His love and cares for us all while chastising and disciplining us with firm hand whenever it is necessary. That is true love and care, brothers and sisters in Christ, as if God only shows us what is good and enjoyable only, and not showing us proper discipline, we will end up being spoilt and then think that we can do everything as we like it, and not living our lives in the manner that we should have, as the children and people of God. Like those people of Israel, whom God had called and chosen from among the nations to be the first people that He called as His own beloved ones, God made a Covenant with them and expected them to live worthily according to His Law and commandments.
Despite having to put up with all of their rebelliousness and stubborn attitude, the Lord still gave His people providence, sustenance, food and drink throughout their sojourn in the desert. He sent them the heavenly bread, the manna, every morning without fail, and also flocks of birds every evening to keep the people well sustained and provisioned, and also crystal-clear water from the rocks itself, in the middle of the empty, lifeless and burning desert. Many among the people of Israel were indeed ungrateful and wicked, in their desires and their wants, in all the things which they demanded from the Lord. Although they had been fed and been well-taken care of, they still wanted all the things and supposed luxuries that they once had when they were still in Egypt, although they were then living there as slaves under the dominion of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh.
In our second reading today, we then heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians of the account of what happened at the Last Supper that the Lord had with His disciples. At that occasion, the Lord Jesus blessed and broke the bread, and gave the bread to His disciples while saying to them that, it is His Body which He was giving to them, and when He afterwards blessed and passed the chalice filled with wine to the disciples, He said to them that it was His Blood that He was sharing and outpouring upon them, for them to partake and drink, so that through His Body and Blood, all of them may truly be united as One Body of Christ, the Church. It was there and then that the Lord began His Passion journey, as He began His sacrificial offering of His own Most Holy and Precious Body and Blood as the most worthy and perfect offering on behalf of us all, for the atonement of all of our sins.
As the Gospel reading today mentioned to us, on the discourse of the Lord to the disciples and many of the people who followed Him, of Himself being the Bread of Life, He did not mince His words in both cases, when He was telling the people about Himself as the Bread of Life and the Living Bread Who has come down from Heaven, and at the Last Supper to His disciples. He did not say that He was giving them a symbol of His Body or a symbol of His Blood. And even when His own disciples complained that the Lord was making things difficult for them by saying such things that were considered unbelievable and outrageous at best, and which was hard to be accepted by many among the people. Yet, the Lord doubled down and emphasised on what He had just told them, telling them that He is truly the Bread of Life, the Living Bread Who has come down upon us, so that He may feed us all His Body and His Blood, and all of us who share in His Body and Blood will not perish but live forever.
At that time, many of the Lord’s disciples abandoned Him and left Him, because they felt uncomfortable of what He had spoken, in saying that He was giving them His own Flesh as food for them and His own Blood as drink for them to share and partake. Is that not the exact same response from all those in the past and present who refused to believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist? Is that not the same attitude shown by those who lack belief and faith in not believing that the bread and wine we partake in the Eucharist are no longer bread and wine, but are the very essence and reality of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord Himself? This is why today, as we listened to these words from the Sacred Scriptures, all of us are being constantly reminded of this very central and crucial tenet of our Christian faith. We must first treat the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord in the Eucharist, His Real Presence with utmost respect and worship, adoration and honour, as we should for our Almighty God and Master.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, if we look at the state of how many Christians treat the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist, and how many actually believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist, we will be really alarmed. That is because less and less people, and alarmingly low percentage of believers in the Church still believed in the Real Presence in the Eucharist. Some did not understand what the Eucharist is about, the significance of the Lord being truly present within the Eucharist in His Most Precious and Holy Body and Blood. Many of our fellow Christians, and perhaps even we ourselves may have treated the Lord with disrespect, even within the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. How many of us truly and actually spend our whole time meaningfully and well, in dedicating ourselves to the Lord whenever we attend and participate in the Holy Mass? How many of us cannot wait for the Holy Mass to end and then continue with our daily business and actions?
If we cannot even show our faith and belief in the Lord’s Real Presence, how can we expect others to believe in the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord being truly present in the Eucharist as well? If we ourselves have not treated the Holy Eucharist with the utmost respect as the Lord truly deserves it, then how can others around us believe that th Holy Eucharist, the bread and wine that by the power of God through the Holy Spirit, and by the hands of the priests whom He had appointed, to be His representatives, in this world, in persona Christi, transformed, in reality and fullness of essence, the Lord Himself present in the flesh? That is why we have to start with ourselves, by believing more sincerely and more devotedly to the Real Presence of our Lord and Saviour in the Most Holy Eucharist. We have to respect, honour and adore the Lord being truly present in our midst more, and begin doing that by living our lives in a more worthy, Christ-like manner.
May the Lord, truly present in the Eucharist, continue to help and guide us, strengthen us all in our journey throughout life. May He continue to guide and empower His Church, all of us who are faithful in this world and beyond, so that each and every one of us will continue to proclaim His truth and Good News, and may all of us continue to grow ever closer to God and His love, and may He be glorified by our actions and works, in each and every moments. Amen.