Today is the feast of Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ, in the Roman Catholic Church. This feast reflects on the connection between Christ, his Church and to each of us through the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Without this dogma, everything fall apart.
Last night I had the privilege to hear a sermon from Father Tri John-Bosco Nguyen, which truly a tour-de-force of theology. He does the subject much greater justice than I ever could but let me just reiterate a few points he made.
Examination of Corpus Christi cannot be done in the modern context. We must place ourselves in the culture of Christ time to begin our examination of this dogma. We must realize, when Jesus celebrated his final passover with his disciples he did not sacrifice a lamb. He offered bread and wine with the words, “This is my Body take it an eat it.” All the gospels support this. So Christ himself clearly substituted himself for the lamb.
In John 6, Christ does not shy away from telling the crowds we must eat his flesh. Father Nguyen emphasized in the original text, the Greek work was actually meant “to chew.” When people started leaving because of this specific language, Christ did not shy away from the truth of his words. Instead he looked to his disciples and challenged them on where they stood on the validity of his lesson.
This total self gift of Christ, to be with us in the Eucharist, is something which science cannot define or confirm. (The presence of so many eucharistic miracles is another story and piece of evidence though which can help those who need science to support their beliefs.) This example of total self giving is however the reason many religious, from the dawn of Christianity, entered lives of celibacy. Lives without distractions of external needs of the flesh which could reduce their ability to sacrifice for others. Even married couples engage in total self giving through the marriage act, which again follows the example of self giving embodied in the sacrifice of Christ in Corpus Christi.
The ability to receive Christ in our daily lives through the sacrament of Holy Eucharist, foreshadows what life in communion with God in heaven will be. It fortifies us with God’s grace both spiritually and physically. It is a wonderful reality, I am proud to be part of.
PS. Thank you Father Nguyen for a wonderful homily.