The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
June 23, 2019
A young nun living in Belgium during the early 1200s had a vision. She saw a brilliant, bright, full moon that had a dark streak running through it. Reflecting on the mystical experience, she came to understand that the moon represented The Church, and that the dark spot signaled that there was something missing.
Subsequently, and over the course of a number of years, she was favored with further visions. Jesus Christ expressed His desire to her that a special feast be instituted and celebrated in honor of His Real Presence in the Eucharist. Aggressively pursuing this commission, she was eventually successful in convincing local Church leadership to move forward with the Lord’s wishes. Eventually, the concept of paying tribute to The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist became a universal practice. The Feast of Corpus Christi was initiated and began to grow and flourish. Because of her unique role in communicating The Lord’s wishes, St. Juliana is typically depicted in religious art holding a monstrance.
This Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ has always been regarded as an opportunity to revisit The Lord’s Supper. Our Holy Thursday liturgy concludes just as quickly as the final Passover meal that Jesus celebrated with His followers. There is little time to savor what was served up before rushing out to the Garden of Olives to begin The Passion.
Through this Feast, we are given the chance to do what we do in our own homes with our loved ones after a particularly good meal: linger at “The Table.” Today, we are invited to return to The Upper Room and take the place reserved for each of us. There is no need to rush out and meet a betrayer leading an angry mob. We can simply relax and share our appreciation for what has been placed before us: The Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
Through the Eucharist, in a spiritual way, we become part of that night before He was handed over. The fact is, when we follow His command and “DO THIS”…we are not simply remembering or reliving…we are actually participating! We are there! And so, we can join in the after dinner table talk with the Apostles and disciples. At least we can listen in to what they have to say.
At some point, the discussion turns to the beginning of that final meal. In the moment, everyone felt very uncomfortable as The Lord insisted on washing feet. Even Peter resisted. But Jesus insisted. The Lord understood that we would not understand what that was all about…but He insisted. So our after dinner table talk raises the possibility that when Jesus said: “DO THIS”…He meant for us to “DO MORE” than break The Bread and share The Cup. Maybe it was also His intention that we should wash feet. Could it be that “DO THIS” included the command to serve?
Looking back even further in time, folks begin to talk about that beautiful day on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. People hung on every word He said as He described the Kingdom of God to them. They were starved for Good News. They couldn’t get enough. That day, The Lord nourished their hungry spirits and they had their fill. When He finished, it was late, but they weren’t going anywhere. They did what we all do after we’ve been well fed. They sat around savoring the spiritual meal. But now, it was their stomachs that were empty. So The Lord provided food for a crowd and enlisted US to do the serving!
Could “DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME” also include serving the poor?
The Feast of The Body and Blood of Jesus Christ is a celebration of the truth that Jesus Christ continues to be present to us in the Eucharist. But, He is also present to the world through the Church…through us. And He is present to us through the poor…the homeless…the marginalized. They make Christ present to us, and we, in turn, are called to be Christ to them through our acts of charity and service.
We honored the Lord’s request to set aside a day to rejoice in The Real Presence. But, after praying before the monstrance, aren’t we expected to DO MORE? At the end of this Feast Day, will there still be a dark streak running through the brilliant, bright, full moon?