Jun. 22, 2019

THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST, 2019

Let us act like Abraham, thanking God in the Blessed Eucharist.

Readings: 1st- Gen. 14:18-20; 2nd- 1 Cor. 11:23-26; Gospel- Lk. 9:11-17

The actions of Melchizedek the "king of Salem" is very prominent in the first reading of today. Melchizedek brought out bread and wine and performed a priestly act. Scripture says, "and being a priest of God Most High, he blessed Abram". Melchizedek is known as a high priest of the Old Testament. In Melchizedek's action, Scripture foreshadows the simple meal Jesus gave us. The Psalm mentions Melchizedek again in reference to the priesthood thus, "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek" (Ps.110:1). Melchizedek points to the priestly image of Jesus Christ, the sacrifice of his body and blood on the Cross. To date, priests in the Catholic Church are ordained in the order of Melchizedek. Priests are anointed to bless God’s faithful just like Melchizedek blessed Abraham. The priesthood finds its meaning in the Blessed Eucharist.

Jesus alone can fulfill the deepest desires of the human soul. In the gospel, Luke takes us beyond satisfaction of the physical hunger by Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand. Luke reports, "Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples..." (Lk.9:16). The people ate and were satisfied from the food given to them by Jesus. This is different from the Last Supper even though Jesus performs similar action of breaking the bread and blessing it. The feeding of the five thousand fulfills an important aspect of the Blessed Eucharist as an act of thanksgiving (cf. CCC 1328). The Eucharist is an expression of God's generosity to mankind. It brings satisfaction to those who receive it. In it, Jesus gives himself to humanity, empties himself that humanity may have life in full. The eucharistic bread is broken and shared to the satisfaction of the worshipping community.

Saint Paul recounts the eucharistic tradition this way, "on the night he was handed over, the Lord Jesus took bread, and after giving thanks, broke it and gave it to his disciples and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me". The same with the cup of wine saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me". We call it the feast of Corpus Christi. Jesus gives himself to us in the Blessed Eucharist, "Take and eat, take and drink, in remembrance of me. 

The Eucharist is the Great Memorial, an event that recalls Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. We commemorate his sacrifice at Mass. We receive his body and drink his blood. We share in the one bread and one cup. We pass on to others the love of Christ inviting them to the communion of love in thanksgiving to God. 

In the Eucharist, Jesus takes up the bread. He blesses the bread. He breaks the bread. And he gives it to the disciples. In these actions, Jesus takes up our humanity, blesses us with his divine presence. Jesus breaks himself up for us, accepting suffering and death. He then offers himself on the cross for our salvation. This is why the Eucharist is the greatest sacrament in the Church. Jesus takes up our humanity, our weaknesses, and our failures and offers them up to the Father. 

We have to thank God in the Blessed Eucharist. By eating the Body of Christ and drinking his blood, we become like him. We derive life from the Eucharist. Pope John Paul 11 explains, "The church draws her life from the Eucharist...in the Holy Eucharist, through the changing of bread and wine into the body and blood of the Lord, she rejoices in this presence with unique intensity" (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, no.1). 

Having received blessings from Melchizedek, Abraham gives thanks to God for the divine encounter. He offers one tenth of everything to God in thanksgiving for his goodness. Abraham teaches us to be thankful to God always especially when we celebrate the Eucharist. Christ says, "Do this in remembrance of me," invites us to be thankful for the great gift of the Eucharist. 

In the Eucharist therefore, we become what we eat. We develop a thankful attitude. We reverently approach God. We praise him for what he has done for us. In Christ, God satisfies our physical and spiritual hunger, feeds and enriches us with his grace. Christ says, “Take and eat. Take and drink.” He is saying to us, “I am your gift. Eat me and drink me. Have life through me.”  This calls for great thanksgiving from us. We are God’s people. He feeds us, strengthens and nourishes us in the Blessed Eucharist.

Let us act like Abraham. Let us be thankful. Let us show gratitude to God by receiving the Eucharist with reverence and awe. And He will keep blessing us now and forever. Amen.