This Sunday is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. In this celebration, we give thanks for the gift of Christ’s Body and Blood — we honour Jesus in His Body and Blood.
We celebrate this great feast day, in the midst of the COVID-19 Crisis, where our chance to come to the Eucharistic celebration and of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ is limited. It is sad, that we don’t celebrate this feast the way we used to celebrate it, including a procession of the Sacrament of the Eucharist in public places.
Fortunately, our churches are slowly opening up for public worship again, albeit under the current restriction of the numbers permitted in the Church. Still, many people are still attending the Mass online from their home.
Due to the COVID-19 circumstances, the great desire of our Catholics for the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ is greatly restricted. The faithful are eagerly awaiting for the time when they can return to celebrating the Eucharist with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Possibly, some of the faithful are becoming impatient with receiving a Spiritual Communion only, with the benefits of an online Mass. What they long for is the reception of the real physical Present of Christ received in communion with the other faithful.
Why do we think and feel like this?
It is because the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ matters to us Catholics.
Maybe, something similar to what has been happening in the USA at the moment: the unprecedented protest and movement of what’s called “black lives matter.” What we celebrate this weekend, highlights the same thing “The Body and Blood of Christ matter”, —the “Eucharist matters.”
Why does it matter?
Jesus’ own words assure us of eternal life: “Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise them up on the last day.”
If we reflect on the greatest gift that Jesus has left us, together with the example of his own teaching, life and death, we will exemplify within our own lives, what we need to do to be one of His true disciples. The Eucharist provides us with food for our journey.
St Paul, in the second reading this Sunday, mentions the special privilege of Communion with Christ. “The blessing cup that we bless is a communion with the blood of Christ, and the bread that we break is a communion with the body of Christ.”
Paul’s words are a beautiful description of our communion with Christ. Eucharist matters for us, because it is through the Eucharist, that we enter into full communion with the Lord, Jesus. When we receive the Body of Christ, the priest says, “The Body of Christ,” and we all answer, “Amen.” In our response we acknowledge Christ, who by communion becomes one with us.
Through receiving Jesus’ body and blood, we are not only in communion with Jesus, but also we are in communion with our brothers and sisters, the body of Christ, — the Church.
We express our unity as Church through the eating and drinking together the Body and Blood of Christ. That’s why, “Receiving Communion” is not essentially a private act, but a sharing: an eating together of the one Bread and the shared drinking of the one Cup. This one Bread and one Cup is Jesus in his Risen Body; it includes not only Jesus but the whole Christian community. We recognise in the sharing not just ‘the individual Jesus coming to me,’ but Jesus in his Body, ‘of which we are all part.’
Above all, when we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, it is the invitation for us to become Christ: to become what we eat, to be another Christ for the world, to be a Eucharistic people in our self-giving love, in our reaching out and in our embrace of all people in the way Jesus always reached out, including to embrace others as our brothers and sisters, regardless of their skin colour or cultural background.
Saint John Paul II calls Mary a “Woman of the Eucharist,” may her example truly teach us what entering into communion with Christ is: Mary offered her own flesh, her own blood to Jesus and became a living tent of the Word. May we grow daily into the Eucharistic Christ, who reaches out to all people and who gives Himself fully for the life of the world. May Jesus in the Eucharist always be the very centre and heart of our Church, the centre and heart of our faith, the centre and heart of our community, and the centre and heart of the lives of each of us.