Corpus Christi, Year C
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
June 2, 2013
Melchizedek offered bread and wine in recognition of Abraham’s victory over the “enemy”. No explanation is offered for why bread and wine is used and Melchizedek is never heard from again.
Moving forward over 2,000 years, Jesus ministers to the people’s hunger with five loaves of bread and two fish. With so little, Jesus feeds 5,000 people with ordinary bread.
The disciples had seen the need of the people and thought it impossible for them to feed so many people with so little so they tell Jesus to ‘dismiss the crowd’ so they can find food for themselves.
What they apparently have forgotten is how God has been feeding people for ages with bread.
Remember the Manna?
At the Israelites left Egypt in the Exodus, they had no food to eat. They feared that God had abandoned them in the desert and that they would die of starvation. They were wrong. God heard their cry and sent down Manna as bread from Heaven which never ran short all the years they were in the desert.
Bread is a basic staple of life.
God provided bread for the Israelites in the desert. God provided bread for Elijah and the widow in the drought. Jesus provided bread for the crowd of 5,000.
Jesus continues to provide bread for us today but it is no longer ordinary earthly bread. Well, actually it is but it is more than just ordinary bread.
The bread we receive from the altar is little in earthly terms. A cracker is bigger than the portion of the bread we receive but the bread we receive is so much more than we see.
We are physical beings. We need physical food but we are also spiritual beings who need spiritual food. We need spiritual nourishment lest our souls perish as the Israelites had feared their bodies would perish.
Where do we find spiritual nourishment? We can find it through prayer and scripture but the place where we best receive the spiritual nourishment we need is in the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of the Eucharist.
For us, it is the Body and Blood of Jesus. Some Christian denominations don’t believe in the Real Presence. Why do we?
It is not some crazy idea that humans thought up. Paul shares with the Corinthians where he received the idea to celebrate the Eucharist. It was not from other humans. He makes it clear when he says “I received from the Lord.”
The words “this is my Body” and “this is my Blood” come from Jesus himself. He doesn’t say ‘this is a symbol of my body and blood.’
Why do we repeat it? First of all, we should not think of it as simply repeating it. Rather than repeating what was done before, God makes present today what was done 2,000 years ago. Still, why do we continue to carry out this action?
Because Jesus says “Do this in remembrance of me.”
Do we know how God makes the Crucifixion of Jesus at Calvary present today? No, it’s a mystery.
Do we know how God makes the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus? No, it’s a mystery.
Last week, we celebrated the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity and I talked about the Trinity being a central mystery of our faith.
The Real Presence in the Eucharist is another mystery of our faith. We don’t know how it happens but we believe because we trust in Jesus’ words.
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
Today we give thanks for the gift of the Eucharist.