for the Feast of Corpus Christi
Dt 8:2-3 & 14b-16a - 1 Cor 10:16-17 - Jn 6:51-58
by Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
The Body and Blood of Christ
Dt 8:2-3 & 14b-16a
Dt 8:2, And you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments, or not. 3, And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. 14, Do not forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, 15, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, 16, who fed you in the wilderness with manna which your fathers did not know.
About 1200 years before the coming of the Son of God, the Jewish people, the chosen People of God, had wandered for forty years in the desert before being able to enter the Promised Land. During this period of forty years, all those who had adored the golden calf died, so that none of them entered the Promised Land, but their descendants did. For food, the wandering Hebrews received from the Lord a mysterious food: manna!
From time to time, one natural explanation or another was proposed for this manna. So be it. But it will always remain mysterious that this manna served as food to such a great number of people, in a constant and regular manner, and this, for such a long time. Manna is a mysterious food, because it is the sign and the proclamation of a supernatural reality: the sacrament of the Eucharist, the Mystery of Faith par excellence!
Perhaps we do have a natural explanation to tell us what manna is. But let us be sure to note this: we have had, similarly, and for a long time, a natural explanation telling us what the sacrament of the Eucharist is not! Indeed, whether it be before or after the act of the consecration of the bread into the Body of Christ, we see, we taste, and we smell bread! Everything our senses tell us, that is to say all natural knowledge of the Eucharist, would lead us to think that it is bread, and not the Body of Christ.
So, in a natural manner, we do not know the Eucharist, just as the Hebrews did not know the manna in the desert: "He fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know." (Dt 8:3) "It is he who fed you in the wilderness with manna which your fathers did not know." (Dt 8:16) We can have knowledge of the Eucharist only in the measure that we ignore all natural knowledge that we might have of it: while we see bread, we must believe that it is the Body of Christ! Let us repeat it: the Eucharist is the Mystery of Faith par excellence.
1 Cor 10:16-17
1 Cor 10:16, The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17, Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
Saint Paul, and his apostolic companion Saint Luke, both insisted on this aspect of the Eucharist: the breaking of the bread. Saint Luke speaks of this in the episode of the disciples of Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:35), as well as in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. Acts 2:42). Saint Paul speaks to us of it as a sign of communion. A paradox? Indeed, it seems paradoxical to speak of the breaking, that is to say of the division, of the consecrated host as a sign of communion. But this is only an apparent paradox...
One must truly break the sign of the consecrated bread in order to enter into communion with the Body of Christ. In other words, if we refuse all natural knowledge of the Eucharist, a refusal that we manifest by breaking the natural and sensible sign of the bread, then we obtain another knowledge of the Eucharist: a supernatural knowledge, that of Faith, a Faith that allows us to enter into communion with God to live of his own Life! Let us recall that Eternal life, which is the very Life of God, is a Life of knowledge: "And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." (Jn 17:3)
Jn 6:51, [In the synagogue of Capernaum, Jesus said,] «I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.» 52, The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, «How can this man give us his flesh to eat?» 53, So Jesus said to them, «Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; 54, he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55, For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56, He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57, As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. 58, This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.»
In the New Covenant, we no longer eat manna to sustain our temporal life, but we eat the Eucharist to enter into eternal Life. We need the Eucharist, just as the Hebrews needed manna. We need the Eucharist in order to be ready to enter into the eternal Life of God. The Eucharist is the Mystery of Faith par excellence: through the Eucharist, we prove to God our faith in Him and in his Word. Jesus, who is God, said so: "This is my Body" (Lk 22:19). Let us believe it! If we have true faith in the Eucharist, let us believe that each communion will bring us the strength and the consolation of the Holy Spirit proper to each day God makes.
Let us have Faith in the Eucharist! May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary come to our aid so that we might believe ever more in this Great Mystery!