Reflection for the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ
Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.
Food is necessary for the sustenance and maintenance of every living thing. Humans, as well as plants and animals, need food to survive. That explains why we regard food as one of the basic needs of life. So, there is an organic relationship between food and life. However, for any food to function, it must be digested.
One of the teachings of our Lord Jesus that puzzled many people was his claim that his body is real food and his real blood drink (John 6:55). John reports that people found it to be a hard teaching, and many stopped following him because of that (John 6:60,66).
During the last Supper with the apostles, we could recall that Jesus took bread and, upon breaking it, gave it to them, saying: “Take and eat this is my body.” He did the same with a cup of wine. Then, after giving thanks, he gave it to the apostles: “Take and drink; this is my blood.”
The puzzle here is how the bread and wine instantly become the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The doctrine of transubstantiation is the theological platform that addresses the confusion, which tells us that there is a substantial change of bread and wine to the real body and blood of Jesus Christ, a mystery and a miracle.
The Digestive Process of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ
The change of the bread and wine to the body and blood of Jesus Christ is just the beginning of a series of miracles that happens after eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ; in fact, the miracle continues until God raises us on the last day (John 6:39,44).
Ordinarily, our food is assimilated into our bloodstream via the small intestine after breaking down into smaller molecules. However, with the body and blood of Jesus Christ, this digestive process takes another dimension.
The birth of a new life: In the Gospel of John (6:53), our Lord Jesus Christ said: “very truly I tell you unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” The question, “what type of life?”
There is a dimension of life that we can only attain through the reception of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. It is the life from Christ that sustains the soul towards eternity. John would say: “in him was life and that life was the light of mankind” (John 1:4). So, in the Holy Eucharist, we receive the new life that stretches to eternal life in the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
Holy Communion: Have you ever wondered why the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is called Holy Communion? Our Lord Jesus Christ indicated in the Gospel of John (6:65), “whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.” So, an alignment happens when we genuinely receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ. and digest him in our hearts.
The Holy Communion provided the foreground for Jesus to take our place as sinners. Recall that St. Paul said: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him (communion) we might become the righteousness of God.” So, it was at the point the apostles ate and drank the body and blood of Jesus Christ that he took our place and became sin for us and could die for us, not as a sinner but sin and a curse (Galatian 3:13). So, without the Holy Communion, there would be no calvary and no redemption.
The communion with the Lord in the Holy Eucharist through which we become one with him also challenges and supports the communion we share. So, our union with one another is a very important part of the Holy Communion.
Moving Forward: Building an Effective Digestive System
The digestion of a delicious meal has a lot to do with the ability of the digestive organs of the subject to maximize their functions. So, no matter how delicious a meal is, if it cannot be digested, then its purpose is defeated.
The Holy Eucharist is the true body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the most delicious and potent food and drink we received directly from our Jesus Christ the night before his death on the cross.
We do not eat and drink the body and blood of Jesus Christ as a religious practice but as a life-giving spiritual necessity. The benefit of the body and blood of Jesus Christ is not in the eating but in the digestion!
Talking about effective digestion, we have a historical example with Judas Iscariot. The Gospels tell us (Luke 22:3; John 13:27) that as soon as he received, Satan entered him. What happened was that he lacked the ability to digest the body and blood of Jesus Christ; at best, the food went through the wrong route because of the state of his soul.
Our spiritual digestive system can become effective when we prepare ourselves before eating and drinking the body and blood of Jesus Christ. In this regard, St. Paul instructs the Corinthians (11:27-29):
So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.
As we celebrate the feast of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us focus more on the effectiveness of our digestive components. There is no question about the integrity of what we receive but how we receive the Lord and what happens to us after receiving him.
God bless you.