The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Psalms 116:12-13, 15-16, 17-18
Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
I loved visiting my grandmother Michelina. Her little house always smelled of sauce and cheeses, coffee and anisette, cookies and cake. She was short in stature and full of hugs and laughter. You would never escape without joining her for a meal or snack – no matter what time of the day it happened to be. As soon as you knocked on the door and got through her kisses, she would pull meatballs from the freezer, throw pork chops in the pan, or start cooking spaghetti. There was no saying, “No,” to Michelina.
When Michelina cooked for others, the labor and preparation was done with a giving heart. She showed love by filling our stomachs and satisfying our appetites. Her instinct was to nourish her family and friends before sending them on their way. Sometimes, we had sweating upper lips and tightly fitting pants before saying goodbye. We may have not always understood her broken English, but there was never any doubt that she loved us.
As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), I cannot help but be thankful for the Lord’s gift of himself. He feeds and sustains us through the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist. In this weekend’s Alleluia, we hear, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven, says the Lord; whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:51)
Jesus shows his great love for us not only in the sacrifice of his earthly body for our sins, but also in his continued sharing of that body to build us up. We become what we consume. His food satisfies all hungers – physical and spiritual. His body and blood, in the forms of bread and wine, give us eternal life. He loves us so much, so unconditionally, so fully, that he becomes part of us each time we say, “Yes,” to receiving his gift.
The Gospel reading this Sunday (Mark 14: 12-16, 22-26) shows Jesus preparing to eat the Passover with his disciples. What a blessing that he used mealtime to highlight the importance of the nourishment he would give. “While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them and said, ‘Take it; this is my body.’” It is an image that we understand more than 2,000 years after it was instituted. We say grace and share meals today. When we meet at the altar table and accept his body and blood, we become one with him. We become one with his whole body, the Church.
I don’t think I told my grandmother enough how grateful I was for her meals and generosity. She not only fed my body but also showed me how to live as a giver and nurturer. I wish I could share a dinner with her today and be uncomfortably stuffed with her pasta.
During much of 2020, as our church leaders wrestled with how to protect the faithful from Covid-19, most of us were unable to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. It is beautiful to see our parishes open, the faithful returning to worship together, and starving parishioners being fed at the Eucharistic feast. Let us not forget the gift or responsibility of receiving his most precious body and blood. May we joyfully celebrate his sacrifice and become his presence in our world. Unlike earthly meals with family and friends, we are able to continually eat at his table.
Jesus, we love you. Jesus, thank you. Jesus, stay with us.
By: Maryrose Orange, Parishoner, Saint Vincent Basilica Parish, Latrobe