Joy of the Gospel

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life (Jn 6:54)

Dt 8:2-3, 14b-16a ; 1 Cor 10:16-17; Jn 6:51-58
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life (Jn 6:54)
During my first visit to Rome in 2003, one day as I was travelling on a bus I noticed that as the bus passed through a certain place, some old people on the bus made a sign of the cross. I just wondered and could not tell why all of sudden those old people had done that . As I was returning on the same route and when the bus passed the same place, other old people made again the sign of the cross. I took courage and asked one old woman who was sitting next to me why she had made the sign of the Cross and she told me that close to that area there was a Church and in the Church there was the Blessed Sacrament. I was struck by the veneration of the Blessed Sacrament by those old people. Those old people acknowledged and venerated the presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar even as they passed by. To me they did not only venerate Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament but they also proclaimed Christ who said to the apostles: I am with you always to the end of time (Mt 28:20). In their hearts St Paul’s exhortation resonated, “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor 11:26).
Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. We commemorate the institution of the `Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. We are therefore, invited to adore the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar which is the memorial of Jesus Christ’s Passion. The collect of the Solemnity implores God with these fervent words: “…grant us, we pray, so to revere the sacred mysteries of your body and blood that we may always experience in ourselves the fruits of your redemption.” Thus we need the grace of God to help us to approach these mysteries with awe. We need this grace to always offer due honor to the Blessed Sacrament.
As we follow the tradition of walking down the streets with the Blessed Sacrament, we would like, as Benedict xvi puts it, “ to immerse the bread come down from Heaven in our daily lives.” We allow Jesus to accompany us on our earthly pilgrimage. As we pass by the homes of the people we announce the words of the Lord, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20). Brothers and sisters in Christ, there are many people today who do not realize the value of either receiving holy communion or adoring the Blessed Sacrament. Today we invite every Christian to rekindle the spirit to adore Christ in the Holy Sacrament of the Altar and to have that thirst and hunger to receive the body and blood of Christ.

The Solemnity of the body and blood of Christ calls us to live in unity. St Paul teaches us in his First Letter to the Corinthians, that though we are many, we are made one by the One Body of Christ which we receive. He states that the cup of blessing we bless and the bread we break are a participation in the blood of Christ and the body of Christ. The Eucharist, thus unites us with Christ and the community. St John Paul ii in his Encyclical Ecclesia De Eucharistia teaches us that at the Last supper Jesus took the cup of wine and gave his apostles and said “Drink of it, all of you” (Mt 26:26-27), and by so drinking they “entered for the first time into sacramental communion with him.” (Ecclesia De Eucharistia 21).
In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses reminds the Israelites that the forty days they endured in the desert where they became hungry and thirst were days of trial. They would not have survived without the care of God. God gave them the gift of manna and water from the hard rock. During those hard times, God wanted to speak to their innermost heart. God taught them that ones does not live by bread alone “but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD” (Dt 8:3). What God wanted was that Israel had to seek what was important and the rest God would provide.
Even today God wants us to seek food that endures to eternal life and all other needs will be provided. Jesus in the Gospel provides new food which does not perish, that is the food of his body and blood. Thus, we notice that Jesus’ teaching about the Eucharist comes in the sequel of the feeding of the five thousand. A day after Jesus had fed the crowd with five barley loaves* and two fish, people started to look for him in order that he may continue to feed them with earthily food but Jesus, tells them not to “work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life” (Jn 6:27). The food that endures for eternal life is his body and blood. Jesus promises eternal life to everyone who eats his flesh and drinks his blood. Whoever eats the body and drinks the blood of Christ is given the pledge of the resurrection. St John Paul ii says the pledge, “..comes from the fact that the flesh of the Son of Man, given as food, is his body in its glorious state after the resurrection. With the Eucharist we digest, as it were, the “secret” of the resurrection.” (Ecclesia De Eucharistia 18).

Thus today we proclaim to all those who are engrossed in worldly things and have no place for God in their lives and those who amass wealth while the majority of the people are suffering that Jesus is the real food. Let everyone have that thirst and hunger for Jesus. We exhort those who have given up hope in this earthily life that true life comes from Jesus who is the Bread of Life. The life that Jesus gives is eternal.
In conclusion, in the spirit of synodality, let us heed to the exhortation of John Paul ii, “Every commitment to holiness, every activity aimed at carrying out the Church’s mission, every work of pastoral planning, must draw the strength it needs from the Eucharistic mystery and in turn be directed to that mystery as its culmination” (Ecclesia De Eucharistia 60).
May the Virgin Mary who gave birth to our Lord Jesus Christ intercedes for us. Amen.