This Sunday we celebrate the great feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. For Catholics, both Roman and Independent, this Sunday is a feast that celebrates a great spiritual mystery and reality: that the bread and wine of the Eucharist became fully and truly the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. It is in this gift of the Eucharist that our Lord Jesus truly gives Himself to us, drawing us in to Himself and bringing us together with our brothers and sisters. St. Paschasius Radbertus, a 9th century theologian and abbot, wrestled with the concept of the Eucharist and what it really means in our lives. He says that the gift of the Eucharist allows Christ to more fully dwell in us: “If the Word had become flesh, and we truly consume the Word as flesh in the Lord’s food, how can it not be justly judged that He dwells in us by His nature.” As we regularly participate in the Mass and receive the great gift of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist, we are transformed by His dwelling within us.
In our world today, we tend to lean toward materialism, believing only what we can experience with our senses. In this case, our senses tell us that it is not the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ that we receive in this great mystery. Rather, our senses tell us, it is mere bread and wine. In our Gospel passage for this great feast, we see Jesus give a more concrete understanding of what it means to have salvation. He said to the people: “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” What a detestable thought to people with such strict dietary laws and practices which forbid the drinking of blood, and here was this man saying that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have life! As some of the disciples started to walk away and leave Him, Jesus doubles down, and tells the apostles, His dearest followers, that they can leave too if they’d like. If this was meant as mere symbol or conjecture, He would not have allowed His followers to walk away so easily. Instead of stopping them, He adjures them all the more: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”
What a gift this is! The Lord of all creation gives Himself into our hands, at the hands of the priest, to be consumed by us that we might take Him into ourselves and be transformed by Him. What a precious gift!
I urge you, the next time you partake of the Eucharist, to say a prayer asking Jesus to more fully come into your being, and to TRANSFORM you. Transform you into all that you can be in His name, in His person, in His Body and Blood which is within you. As we dwell in the Lord, so too does He dwell in us. Let us not look to materialism, but to Our Lord, who is the source and fount of all life and salvation.