Imagine getting everything you ever needed in a particular food. I mean everything! All the organic compounds, minerals, vitamins, haemoglobin; name them. Nutritionists are still undecided with regards to the food that contains all nourishment the human body needs. Some mention some seafood; others endorse some vegetables and fruits. While nutritionists continue their contention about the food with the highest deposit of nutrients, this reflection examines the Holy Eucharist as the most excellent meal that contains the most significant deposit of bodily and spiritual nourishment. In the Holy Eucharist, we receive everything we NEED because we receive the totality of Jesus Christ.
We could recall that our Lord Jesus Christ had supper with the twelve apostles few hours before Judas betrayed him and handed him over to the authorities for condemnation, torture, and death. After the supper, our Lord takes a loaf of bread, and after giving thanks (blessing), he gives the bread to the apostles to eat saying “this is my body.” He also takes a chalice of wine, and after giving thanks, he gives the chalice to them to drink saying, “this is my blood.” We could read the details in the following passage: Matt. 26:26-28, Mk.14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20, 1Cor. 11:23-25.
Let us take a moment to process the highpoints of the narrative
- He takes the bread, and after giving thanks (blessing the bread), he gives the bread to them saying eat, this is my body. It was bread before the blessing and after the bread becomes his body though still appearing, feeling, and tasting like bread.
- He takes the chalice of wine, and after giving thanks (blessing the wine), he gives the chalice to them saying, this is my blood. It was chalice of wine before the blessings but after it becomes chalice of blood though still appearing, smelling, and tasting like wine.
Here, we confront yet another mystery like that of the Holy Trinity. “How could bread and wine become body and blood of Jesus Christ while still retaining the appearances of bread and wine?” Furthermore, we learn from the event that our Lord instructed that they eat his body and drink his blood always in memory of him. This instruction justifies the celebration of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist which is the highest prayer ever and the summit of the Church’s life and ministry.
The Sixth Chapter of the Gospel of John provides profound insights into the Holy Eucharist. After feeding the five thousand people, more people came looking for Jesus Christ, not for the word of God (the food of the soul) but because they had all the bread they wanted (John 6:26). Our Lord promises to give them the food that would give them complete satisfaction and this food involves communion with him. The following are the high points in the discourse:
- Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life in you (John 6:53).
- Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day (John 6:54).
- My body is real food, and my blood is real drink (John 6:55).
- Those who eat my body and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them (John 6:56).
To reappraise our opening statement, we have all we need in the Holy Eucharist because it introduces us to the totality of Jesus Christ. In the Holy Eucharist, we receive the body and blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Holy Eucharist, we receive the fullness of Jesus Christ who is fully present. Now, if we have Jesus Christ in us, we have all we need because we have the best.
It is not enough receiving the body and blood of Jesus Christ; we must do so in the state of grace; that means we must receive him without the knowledge of or involvement in sin. Simply put, the Holy Eucharist is allergic to sin. During the first celebration of the Sacrament (at the institution), Judas received in the state of sin (disgrace), and the devil entered him (Luke 22:3; John 13:27). In First Corinthians (11:27-30), St. Paul discouraged unworthy reception of the body and blood of Jesus Christ which brings about condemnation and even sickness and death.
As we celebrate the feast of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ today, let us rededicate ourselves to understanding and appreciating the privilege of receiving the totality of Jesus Christ and may we always approach the sacrament with reverent love for the Lord and one another. O, Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, All Praise and All Thanksgiving be Every Moment Thine!
God bless you.