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Do We Understand What It is We Receive?

In those days, Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine” to Abram (who would become known as Abraham). This was ordinary bread and wine. One day Jesus will offer something far greater than ordinary bread and wine.

As Jesus speaks to the crowds, his disciples are aware of the people’s needs. So, they went to Jesus and told him to “Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and towns and find lodging and provisions.

It was good that they recognized the needs of the people. However, Jesus has a different solution. He will feed the people. As He does so, He wants to make sure his disciples understand the significance of feeding so many. He tells them to give the people some food. Their response indicates that it would impossible for them to feed so many people, numbering five thousand men, with just the five loaves and two fish they have.

It is impossible for them but not for Jesus.

They all ate and were satisfied.

That day Jesus did a miracle feeding five thousand with ordinary bread. He will come to feed the people with “bread from Heaven.” The feeding of the five thousand prefigures Jesus feeding the disciples with the Eucharist.

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi).

There are those who think that Catholics invented the Eucharist, meaning that it is not really Jesus that we receive. This was a problem from the beginning. Paul seeks to address this when he writes, “I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you.” He has been teaching them about the Eucharist and how to celebrate it. This is what he handed on to the people but it was not his invention nor did he receive it from other people. He received it from the Lord. It is Jesus who gives us the Eucharist.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell the story of how Jesus at the Last Supper took the bread, gave thanks, broke it and said “this is my Body that is for you.” He did likewise with the wine, proclaiming it to be his Blood. Jesus’ words are clear. The bread and wine we receive are his Body and Blood. It was not a one-time event. Jesus tells us to “Do this in remembrance of me.” From Jesus’ words, we celebrate the Eucharist.

What we celebrate is a sacrifice. Paul writes, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” The sacrifice we offer each time we celebrate the Eucharist is not a new sacrifice. It is God making present to us today the sacrifice of Jesus 2,000 years ago on the Cross.

The Eucharist we offer is also a meal. We are fed with the Body and Blood of Jesus. It is food for our souls. What we receive in earthly terms is a small piece of bread, hardly enough for a meal in earthly terms. How can it satisfy our hunger? As food for our soul, it is Jesus we receive. Jesus is God who is infinite. In receiving the Eucharist, we receive the infinite love of Jesus.

In receiving the Eucharist, we express our desire to be in Communion with God. We seek to give our lives to God, to live as God calls us to live.

How the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus is a mystery. We do not know how but we can believe.

To keep the Sabbath holy, we come to church every Sunday. When we understand it is Jesus that we receive, we come not only to fulfill an obligation. We come because we want to receive Jesus.

Unfortunately, many do not understand that is Jesus that we receive. To help us understand, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has called us to begin a three-year Eucharistic Revival today. You can find out more about the USCCB’s efforts at https://www.eucharisticrevival.org/. You can find out more about the revival in our diocese (Rochester) at https://eucharisticrevival.dor.org/.

Let us pray for all to know that the Eucharist we receive is the Body and Blood of Jesus.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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