The Solemnity of Corpus Christi~The Body and Blood of Christ ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

Liturgical colour: White.

Reading 1: GN 14:18-20

Responsorial Psalm: PS 110:1, 2, 3, 4

Reading 2: 1 COR 11:23-26

Gospel: LK 9:11B-17

When many think of The body and blood of our dear Lord Jesus Christ, they usually think of the Holy Eucharist we take during Mass. Yes of course the Holy Eucharist is indeed one important part, but is by no means all that today’s Solemnity represents.

In our Catholic Tradition we use the term ‘ The Body Of Christ’ in three totally separate but yet interconnecting ways. The first way we use it is to refer to Our Lord Jesus himself, we stress the full humanity of the Incarnate Son of God. He was formed in his mother’s womb, He was born and grew just as we do. He touched the untouchable leper with his human yet godly hands. He walked through the towns, villages and fields of his native land. He spoke God’s word in a human way. He ate and drank as we do. He suffered like we do. He was tortured, he was crucified for our sins and he was suffered bodily death and burial.

But Our Lord Jesus is no longer dead, He is Risen and is glorified in his body. He is no longer bound by earthly  time as we are, and as he himself was in his earthly life. He is alive and with us. He is the Lord actively reigning in his own creation.

The second usage we have is to refer to the humanity, the men and women and children who form the embodying of the life of Jesus in each and every generation, our brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus, our living Lord, is the Head of his Body the Church. By baptism every Christian has the serious vocation of being the embodying of Jesus in whichever place, situation and time of their own lived life. Through our human bodies we are to make present his kingdom and to reveal his presence. As Christians, we are not here  to say that ‘we are here in place of Christ’ but rather that ‘In this place where we are, Christ is also  in this place’.

What is true of the individual Christian is even more vibrantly true of the complete Body of Christians who are under the active Headship of the Risen lord Jesus. Every church community, or any other gathering of Christians, has the on-going duty of being an embodying of Jesus in this particular place and in this particular time. It is the individuality of each Christian life that is essential in the building up of the Church and of the fruitfulness of its mission

But how are we to be able to live up to this our calling unless we are constantly nourished by Jesus himself? Hence our third usage of ‘The Body – and Blood – of Christ’ is to refer to the celebration of the Eucharist at the heart of every Christian community. ‘The Eucharist makes the Church, and the Church makes the Eucharist’. The Eucharist is medicinal and healing, it is also the power for our mission. Whereas other food is eaten so that it becomes us, with this food which Jesus himself gives us we become him because it is him which we are truly receiving.

So all three meanings come together, three separate but united parts..three in one, in a similar way to the three in one of The Holy Trinity. Our Lord Jesus which we read about in the gospel, truly gives himself to us so that we might become him and we become members one of another in the holy communion and mission of his Holy Church:

As I who am sent by the Father, myself draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will draw life from me.

This communion and mission is itself embodied in our Tradition history as the one holy catholic and apostolic church we proclaim in the Creed. We are not just in communion with those we who are currently present in our church or at our work, but with all the men and women whom we will never meet, those who speak in languages which we will never understand, who are praying for us as we are praying for them in the one Body of Christ. And as Jesus is Lord of both the living and the dead, so the dead too form one Body with us.

At the heart of this communion is the sacrifice of Calvary, the broken, tortured, crucified body and the shedding of the blood of Christ’s love for the world. This sacrifice of Calvary can never cease in its power. It eternally throbs through every atom of creation and throughout every second of time. But Jesus’s priestly work continues. He is our Eternal High Priest and the Everlasting Victim for our sins, enabling our salvation. In our sacrifice of the Mass we repeatedly re-enter into Our Lord’s self offering to the Father. In the prayers around the consecration of the Eucharist, we place our prayers of thanksgiving and of petition for the living and the dead into his one Calvary Prayer. Within our worship of the Body and Blood of the Lord present on the altar, we place our own self-offering sacrifice of our Christian bodily life.

I appeal to you dear brothers  and sisters by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Rom 12.1)

All our Christian activity is taken up into the Eucharist just as the Eucharist is at the same point the nourishment of our hope and our courage and our salvation ‘until the Lord returns’. Our daily prayerfulness within Christ includes all creation as we pray ‘in the name of everything under heaven’ and we pray

Father may this sacrifice which has made our peace with you, advance the peace and salvation of all the world.

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