Body and Blood of Christ (A)
“Gratitude is the memory of the heart,” so the saying goes. How true this is. Grateful people are happier and more open to new experiences in life. Moses, one of the kindest and most grateful persons who ever lived, had to remind the Israelites:
Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God, has directed all your journeying in the desert (Dt 8:2).
He was well aware that the Israelites were great complainers despite all the marvels that God has worked before their eyes. They were grumpy and arrogant; and he hated that. Just because they experienced hunger and thirst, they challenged Moses and forgot that God promised to lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey. Their only concern was their stomach, to eat, be filled and be satisfied. Moses had to tell them that
not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD (Dt 8:3).
With this, we also remember one of the temptations Jesus received from the devil. The devil tried to hit Jesus with one of the basic needs of man: food. However, basic does not mean that it is the only thing man needs. Man also needs spiritual, moral and social nourishment.
This should remind us that man does not live on his physical cravings only. Man cannot live on food alone, because he gets hungry again. Man cannot live on material possessions alone because they rust and decay. Man cannot live on prohibited drugs, alcohol, addictive agents, sexual promiscuity and physical pleasure alone because they destroy the body anyway and shatter relationships. Man cannot live on power and influence alone because they corrupt. Man cannot live on insurances alone because they are controlled. Man cannot live on laziness and timidity, because they lead him nowhere. All these satisfy man only while the pleasure lasts. Jesus gives man His Body and Blood that leads him to eternal life.
In His Wisdom, God also showed His compassion on His people so that those who would sin would have the opportunity to be reconciled and to return to Him. He gave Jesus to the world as food for life, particularly because man cannot live by bread alone but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD; and this Word became flesh and dwelt among us. This leads us to the participation and involvement in the Church that St. Paul speaks of today:
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ (1Cor 10:16)?
Jesus is inviting us to be one with and in the Church, the family of God. As a member of a family shares the table and food, he also shares in the responsibilities of the house. He shares the joy of the family; he also shares the difficult moments. He shares in the benefits of the family members; he also puts in his capacities and capabilities so that others may grow and develop.
When we share the benefits that God gives through the Church, we have the obligation to put in our share through our capacities and capabilities for others to grow and develop. When we touch and receive the Body of Christ, there are things in the world that we can no longer receive and touch, the things that lead to sin and lead others farther from God. When we receive the Body of Christ, we are also given the graces and virtues we need to be strong in this world. Reception of the blessings of God, especially the Eucharist, is not a passive act of being fed. It is an encounter with the author of life so that we can progress in our relationships with God, with other people and with all creation. It is a participation in the life and work of Christ for the salvation of mankind.
This Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ is a great feast for everyone. It moves us to a greater sense of gratitude and appreciation of the gifts of God and His patience with His people. Translating for us what Moses said to the Israelites, we should hear the following: remember how for many years now the LORD, our God, has directed all our journeying in our families, in this community and in this world. Do not forget the many marvels He has done for us. Do this and all things in memory of Him and in constant awareness of His presence.