Sunday, June 18, is Corpus Christi Sunday (Year A). Mass Readings: Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16; Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-58.
Do we truly recognize Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament? If we do, great and wonderful things will happen to us. If we don’t — tragedy follows.
The problem: Recognizing Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament doesn’t happen automatically.
“God and the Violinist: A Story About Beauty” teaches this lesson on YouTube. In it, a world-famous violinist stands on the street in ordinary clothes and plays one of the most difficult and beautiful pieces in his instrument’s repertoire.
Do people stop and gape? Not at all. They simply walk past him, unaware that they are in the presence of something concertgoers that evening will pay huge sums to see.
The point is that God’s beauty is all around us, but we have not attuned ourselves to it always. The same is true with the Eucharist. God is really there. Jesus Christ becomes present in his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the sacrament. But we often don’t notice.
Perhaps we have objections, like the Jews do in today’s Gospel.
“Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life within you,” says Jesus.
“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” some may scoff.
The readings explain. Moses tells the Jews in the first reading that they have been led into the desert as a test to “find out whether or not it was your intention to keep his commandments.”
Those who follow his commandments learn to recognize him. They learn that he is “the living Bread that came down from heaven.”
The second reading describes what follows. By participating in the Body and Blood of Christ, we become one with him. Our perspective changes.
We can look at the Host at Mass and see what St. John Paul II saw.
“For over a half-century, every day, beginning on Nov. 2, 1946, when I celebrated my first Mass,” he said in his 2003 encyclical on the Eucharist, “my eyes have gazed in recollection upon the Host and the chalice, where time and space in some way ‘merge’ and the drama of Golgotha is re-presented in a living way. … Each day my faith has been able to recognize in the consecrated bread and wine the divine Wayfarer.”
If you don’t see him there, change your life. Pray more; serve more; listen more. Then you will see him.
Tom Hoopes is writer in
residence at Benedictine College
in Atchison, Kansas.
He is the author of What