Cycle C The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Gen 14:18-20; I Cor 11:23-26; Lk 9:11-17
The Pelican is excessively dedicated to its young one. The pelican collects small fish and stores in the pouch at its neck. In the process of feeding them the bird presses the pouch against its neck. There is a reddish tinge at its breast plumage and redness at the tip of its beak. All these specialties of the pelican have given rise to a legend of the Pelican feeding its young with its own blood.
The mother Pelican pierces its breast, opens her side and lays herself across her young pouring out her blood over the young. The young ones feed on the mother’s blood and revive strength and come back to life. This symbol of pelican was used by the medieval church to indicate the sacrifice of Jesus.
Today we are celebrating the feast of the Body and blood of Christ. The Council of Trent (1545 to 1563), declared that we must honor Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist publicly so that those who observed the faith of Catholics in the Most Holy Eucharist might be attracted to the Eucharistic Lord and believe in the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, present in this great Sacrament. "
Jesus instituted the Eucharist in deliberate allusion to, and fulfillment of, what happened on Mount Sinai. He replaced Moses as the God-chosen mediator, establishing the New Covenant promised through the prophet Jeremiah (Jer 31:31-34), by using his own Blood rather than that of sacrificial animals. By sacramentally consuming the Body and Blood of the God-Man, we are interiorly transformed through the most perfect possible union with God. Jesus creates a faithful people intimately united with God by means of his sacramental Blood.
We experienced our mother first as a source of food, and through that visible channel we experienced her as a source of love. God is mothering us, attracting us, trying to tame us frightened creatures. How do we tame an animal? By feeding it. Gradually the animal begins to trust us, begins to believe in our goodwill. We were (and maybe we still are) like little frightened animals. We have to be tamed into human society. Love is invisible and needs a visible channel. That visible channel is originally food. This wisdom of the body is taken up and exalted in the Eucharist. The food which is the Eucharist has the deepest significance. It is about our relationship with God, the ultimate womb from which our existence came.
At the heart of that relationship, for Christians, is Jesus. The great 14th-century mystic, Julian of Norwich, not only called God our ‘mother’, but she called Jesus our mother! This may seem very strange, even weird. But she had profound reasons for saying it. She did not mean that Jesus is like our mother! She meant the reverse: our mother is like Jesus! Our mother fed us from her own body. Our mother’s care for us may well be the best image we have of God - and of Jesus.
From the time of the election of the Israelites God’s presence was manifested in various ways among them. Moses received 10 commandments on Mount Sinai. As he brought it to the people they made a Tabernacle and placed the Tablets in it. The presence of God lingered over the tabernacle.
Jesus at his departure instituted the Eucharist to continue his presence with his people. St Francis of Assisi who had a profound experience of Jesus declared, "Just as He appeared before the holy Apostles in true flesh, so now He has us see Him in the Sacred Bread. For in this way our Lord is ever present among those who believe in him, according to what He said: "Behold, I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world." (Mt. 28, 20)
When we receive the Holy Communion we become the tabernacle where Jesus is present. So Maximilian Kolbe says, ‘If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.” Hence, it is binding on us that we should keep the tabernacle, ourselves, holy. St Francis de Sales preached to the people, “When you have received Him, stir up your heart to do Him homage, welcome Him as warmly as possible, and behave outwardly in such a way that your actions may give proof to all of His Presence.”
Vatican II states that as a sacrifice, "the Holy Eucharist is the center and culmination of Christian life" (Lumen Gentium, 11). Because it enables us to participate in Christ’s sacrifice as a present reality and to benefit from its fruits in our own lives.
By receiving Holy Communion we become Christ-bearers as Mary was, with the duty of conveying Christ to others at home and in the workplace, as love, mercy, forgiveness and sacrificial service. As we honor Jesus today on this Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus, let us devote more time before the Blessed sacrament and draw strength and consolation in our troubling moments. And let’s us adore Jesus with St. Thomas Aquinas' prayer of devotion in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament: "O Sacrament most holy! O Sacrament Divine! All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine!"