The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Year A
Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a
1 Corinthians 10:16-17
June 22, 2014
Last week we celebrated the Most Holy Trinity as a central mystery of our faith. This week we celebrated another mystery, the Eucharist. We do not know how ordinary bread and wine, without any visible change, become the Body and Blood of Christ. It is a mystery how this happens but we believe.
Paul clearly speaks of the real presence when he refers to the cup as our participation in the Blood of Christ and the bread as our participation in the Body of Christ but what does he means by “participation”?
Our participation is rooted in three things. First, the fact that we even take the time to come here is a participation in what is going on. Our coming forth for Communion is a participation but we must also realize that the way we live our lives outside this church building should be a participation in the Body and Blood of Jesus.
I trust the first two are obvious but our participation isn’t just a physical presence here or coming forth. To participate in the Body and Blood of Jesus is to live according to the example of Jesus.
There was a time when not many people received Communion every Sunday. Unless you had gone to Confession recently, you didn’t come up. Now, the pendulum has swung and most everyone who is old enough comes forth and receives Communion.
We need Jesus. We need to receive the grace given us in the Body and Blood of Jesus but we also need to think about what it means to receive. Have we been living our lives in accord with God’s will?
Moses speaks to the Israelites about how God watched over them while they journeyed through the desert to see if it was their intention to keep God’s Commandments.
As we live the “journey” we call our lives is it our intention to live as God calls us? It isn’t always easy. We make mistakes, we sin. That’s why we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we can confess our sins.
The teachings of Jesus aren’t always easy to understand. In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus speaking to the crowds about the need for them to eat his flesh and drink his blood. We recognize this as the Eucharist but for the people there that day, this was something totally new and incomprehensible for many.
Some took him literally and that meant cannibalism. It sounds disgusting to us to eat the flesh and drink the blood of another human being. It also seems impossible for someone to do this to them. It would mean their death.
But it isn’t just the physical cannibalism that would be difficult for them to understand. The religious laws of the Jews forbade the drinking of the blood. To drink the blood of a living creature was to take on its life force.
That is precisely what we need to do with Jesus. We need to become more like Jesus. It is only when we become like Jesus that we receive eternal life.
They say you are what you eat. We want to become like Jesus.
Ask yourself if you are becoming more like Jesus. The fact is that we need the Eucharist to become like Jesus but we struggle to find a balance with this to not receive Jesus if we have sinned. If I want to stop sinning, I need the Eucharist but yet I’m not supposed to receive the Eucharist if I have sinned. It sounds like a no win situation.
But it isn’t.
Sure we sin. God knows this and has given us the gift of Reconciliation for when we commit mortal sin.
When you come forth for Communion today, think about what you are receiving and what it means for you. Think about what you need to become more like Jesus whom we receive today.