How generously Jesus has given Himself to us in the Eucharist
The Blood Transfusion
Shortly after undergoing major surgery, a woman decided to put her thoughts in writing. She wrote: ‘When someone said that when Jesus referred to the Passover wine as his blood, and then shared it with his disciples, he was being cannibalistic, I could not help thinking of the modern practice of giving blood transfusion. While it isn’t eaten, the blood is definitely taken into the body in a life-giving way. After surgery I had a vivid experience of this type of life-receiving from a blood transfusion. All day in the recovery room, my only conscious feeling was the awful coldness, in the middle of summer. Nothing seemed to bring warmth to my body. I was inert and completely uninterested in anything going on around me. I was finally aware of a timing of two hours which seemed to be the time taken for the careful dripping of this blood into my veins. Suddenly, I felt warmth pour over me right to my fingertips and to the end of my toes. I seemed to come up from the bottom of the sea. I felt like smiling and greeting someone. I opened my eyes. The first thing I did was to find a clock. I was amazed that it was nearly midnight and I was elated to think I was alive and warm and happy. Then I saw the doctor and I couldn’t help joking with him about keeping such awful hours. I heard him say, ‘Now you can go home,’ so everything was all right. Later, I felt I would give anything I own ‘anything’ – to find the stranger whose blood had brought this warmth, this life to me. Now I walk the streets, grateful to some unknown person whose very blood flows in my veins and contributes to my daily joy. This is a debt I can never repay.’
Luke places the multiplication scene at the climax of Jesus’ Galilee ministry. Luke as well as all the evangelists highlight the Eucharistic dimension of the multiplication. Whereas on Holy Thursday we celebrated the origin of the Eucharist, today’s feast is a celebration of and an act of faith in the presence of the Risen Christ in our midst in this sacrament. As we have seen, all the three readings today are about meals – Abram’s victory meal, the Last Supper, and the feeding of the multitude. All refer to a ‘meal’ that goes beyond people’s hunger for material food, to spiritual nourishment.
May the Eucharist make us a sharing people, caring for others!
St. Mother Theresa chose to cater to the needs of a miserable beggar on the roadside rather than go and meet the Holy Father with whom she had a prior appointment. When asked by she did not choose to meet the Vicar of Christ, the Mother replied, “I met Christ on the way, i did not feel the need to meet the Vicar of Christ.”
Mother Theresa could see and touch the living body and blood of Jesus in the dying and the destitute because of the generosity of her heart to love the poorest of the poor. Today’s feast of Corpus Christi reveals to us how generously Jesus has given himself for the salvation of the world and invites us to reflect on our own approach to generosity. The readings provide us with three approaches to which we add one more approach adopted by our Savior:
1. Generosity with RESPECT: the 1st reading tells us that Melchizedek, the priest of God, offered bread and wine, and blessed Abraham after he rescued Lot from the hands of his enemies. Abraham too offered him the tithe of his income. In both the offerings there is a real sense of respect for the recipients of the offering. Such an act of generosity becomes more meaningful than an act of generosity out of duty or fear.
2. Generosity with FELLOWSHIP: St. Paul shares with the Corinthians what was revealed to him by the Lord. It is out of the sense of fellowship with his brethren that St. Paul urges them to partake of the great mystery of the Holy Eucharist. Such an act of generosity leads to prosperity of the community and helps to build the mystical body of Christ, namely, the Church.
3. Generosity with COMPASSION: In the Gospel we hear of the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves by Jesus. The Gospel parallel of this passage in Matthew 14:14 states, ‘He had compassion on them and he healed many of them.’ This compassion is seen in Jesus’ act of a) asking the disciples to give them something to eat, b) making the people sit in groups of fifty, c) blessing the food, d) giving the food to the disciples to be distributed to the crowd, and finally e) collecting the left-over. Such an act of generosity is not lavish spending of the resources available but dispensing them as a steward for the well-being of a wider community.
4. Generosity with SELF-SACRIFICE: the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ unfolds the noblest aspect of generosity. Jesus went to the extreme of breaking his body and shedding his blood for the well-being of the whole human race. This act of generosity with self-sacrifice sees only the good of the others at the cost of a price to be paid by oneself. Here we do not adore the sacred species alone but the Lord who has left a visible sign of his love and self-sacrifice.
Let us always receive the Body and Blood of Jesus with great love, respect and faith. He gave us His body and blood because He loves us till the end. The little that I and you can do is to receive Him well. While we receive the precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, we use our whole being and senses:
We come to receive Him because we have listened to his invitation.
We look (eyes, sight)
We respond (mouth, sound)
We receive (hand or mouth, touch)
We eat (taste)
Thus the Lord comes to us wholly in our Thoughts, Being and Body and Heart.
– Look up to Jesus
– Say Amen with faith and love
– Receive him well on our tongue or on the palm of our hand
Today, Jesus comes to each one of us through the Body and Blood through the hands of the Priest, let us pray for each priest in the world who bring Jesus to us daily. Let us pray that there may be more vocations to this priestly life, so that Jesus will ever be present in the world. Let us also pray for all the Extra ordinary ministers of distribution of Holy Communion; who assist the priest in giving us Jesus here in the Church and to all our home bound.
Fr. Franco Pereira, S.D.B.