Corpus Christi: The Eucharist Is Essential for Our Survival

User’s Guide to the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

Adore Christ in the Eucharist.
Adore Christ in the Eucharist. (photo: Unsplash)

Sunday, June 11, is the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. Mass readings: Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a; Psalm 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-58.

On this solemnity, we are called above all to faith in the fact (as revealed by the Lord himself) that the Eucharist, the Holy Communion of which we partake, is in fact a reception of the very Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, whole and entire, in his glorified state. We do not partake of a symbol; the Eucharist is truly the Lord. Neither is it a “piece” of his flesh; it is Christ, whole and entire. Scripture attests to this in many places.

  • “And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body which is given for you’” (Luke 22:19-20).
  • “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a partaking in the Blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a partaking in the Body of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16).
  • “They recognized him in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:35).
  • “For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the Body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself” (1 Corinthians 11:29).
  • “I am the Living Bread … the Bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:51).

After Jesus spoke the words of today’s Gospel, saying that the bread was his flesh, the Jewish people grumbled in protest.

Jesus did not seek to reassure them or to say that he was speaking symbolically. Rather, he became even more adamant, shifting from the polite form of eating, phagete, meaning “to eat,” to the impolite form, trogon meaning to munch, gnaw or chew.

So insistent was he that they grasp this, that he permitted most of them to leave, to no longer follow in his company due to this teaching (John 6:66).

Yes, the Lord paid quite a price for his graphic and “hard” teaching (John 6:60).

He asked us, “Do you also want to leave me?” (John 6:67). We must give our answer each time we approach the altar and hear the words, “The Body of Christ.” It is at this time that we respond, “Amen,” as if to say, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

Would that more people grasp that the Lord is truly present in our churches! Were that so, one would never be able to empty our parishes of those seeking to pray with the Lord. Jesus adds in today’s Gospel: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53).

Remember in the Book of Exodus: The people in the desert were without food and feared for their lives. In response, God gave them bread from heaven called “manna,” which they collected each morning.

Without eating that bread from heaven, they would never have made it to the Promised Land; they would have perished in the desert.

It is the same with us. Without receiving Jesus, our living manna from heaven, in Holy Communion, we will not make it to our promised land of heaven.

The Eucharist is essential for our survival.