The Solemnity of Corpus Christi

corpus christi

Sunday, 22nd June, was the Solemnity of Corpus Christi (Latin for Body of Christ), also called Corpus Domini. Naturally the feast is celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, but in places where the day is not a holy day of obligation, it is celebrated the Sunday after Trinity Sunday.

It is a feast celebrating the tradition and belief in the body and blood of Jesus Christ and His real presence in the Eucharist. Bread and wine are consecrated, turning them into His body and blood. Visually, the bread still takes the form of bread and the wine still looks like red wine and tastes like wine. It is only by faith that faithful believe it is the actual body and blood.

Celebrating bread and wine as the body and blood of Christ is a rite that dates back in time, to Holy Thursday, during the Last Supper, where Jesus broke bread, blessed wine and shared it with His disciples, then asked them to continue with the rite in His memory. So essentially, when Christians eat His body and drink His blood, they follow His Command.

When we look back at the events that took place on Holy Thursday, the Last Supper, which was the principal event, sought of gets overshadowed by the others. For this reason, the feast of Corpus Christi was created to focus solely on the Holy Eucharist.

In 1 Corinthians 10: 16-17, Paul says, “The cup we use in the Lord’s Supper, and for which we give thanks to God: when we drink from it, we are sharing in the blood of Christ. And the bread we break: when we eat it, we are sharing in the body of Christ. Because there is one loaf of bread, all of us, though many, are one body, for we all share the same loaf.”

Why was bread used to symbolize the body of Christ? Someone might ask. Couldn’t God have picked something fancier? Bread, as seen in the bible was used in many instances. Jesus used bread as a symbol of His body because it was affordable to many.

After Jesus fed the five thousand men with five loaves of bread and two fish (John 6: 1-13), they thought He was the prophet who was to come into the world. Afraid they would seize Him in order to make Him king by force, Jesus went off again to the hills by Himself.

When the people found Him the next day, He told them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry. He who believes in me will never be thirsty”. (John 6: 35). He goes on to say, “Your ancestors ate manna in the desert but they died. But the bread that comes from heaven is of such a kind that whoever eats it will not die.

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread, he will live forever. The bread that I will give him is my flesh, which I give so that the world may live.” (John 6: 49-51).

Someone might think that if the consecrated bread-Eucharist-is the body of Christ, then if someone was to have plenty of it, they would have more Jesus in them. That is not the case however. Each piece of the Eucharist weighs the same. It doesn’t matter how many pieces it’s broken into. The one who eats the full sacrament, hundreds of them, or just a tiny particle all consume the same amount.

Additionally, sharing the body of Christ doesn’t diminish Him. On the contrary, it unites all those who eat it, into one body. As he says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I Live in Him.” (John 6: 56). Through sharing His body and blood we become one body in Christ.

consecration of bread and wine

God is able; through Him all things are possible. That is what the faithful believe. So if that’s the case, shouldn’t that make all who partake of His body and blood superhuman, able to do anything they want?

It is true; eating Christ’s body and drinking His blood empowers people. At the same time, one can’t just lie around and wait to perform tasks superhumanly. Eating the Eucharist follows the ‘faith without action is dead’ concept. One needs to work hard, doing what’s right; living by God’s commandments for the Eucharist to manifest itself fully. It’s all about faith.

Once a priest said in church that people who are mentally unstable-insane-are not given the sacrament because it would just be desecrated. I’m thinking the reasoning behind that is that they are not in the state of mind to believe the effect of the Eucharist in them, so it would be meaningless to let them have it.

It is God’s hope that we all live virtuously. He despises actions which undermine love; revenge for instance, and only encourages acts of kindness, forgiveness… if all those who partake of the Eucharist believe it is Christ’s body, then they should refrain from things that taint its sanctity; actions encouraged by the devil.

Christ taught us to forgive. It is human nature to err; and because of that, forgiveness becomes a vital necessity in life. If you are wounded, don’t take matters into your own hands, because that only kills love and encourages inhumane acts like terrorism, which have become so rampant nowadays, in the quest for vengeance. Instead, take your pain to the wounded healer and let Him take it away. Let Him avenge you.

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