Cycle B The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

 Exo. 24:3-8; Heb. 9:11-15; Mk. 14:12-16, 22-26

"While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, 'Take; this is my body.'" [Mt. 26:26: Mk. 14:22; Lk. 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:24] "Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, 'This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.'" [Mt. 26:28; Mk. 14:24; Lk. 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:25] Jesus commanded us to continue to celebrate the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. The Church has been doing it for over 2000 years and the church has set apart a Sunday to celebrate this feast.

While Jesus was on earth, He stated, "I am the living bread that came down from Heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." [Jn. 6:51]

In the next passage Jesus began to speak with the words, "Very truly." "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. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink." [Jn. 6:53-5]. 

In the Old Testament we read many instances of God feeding his people. Exodus  (16:4-35 ) speaks of God feeding his people in the desert.  After the Israelites left Egypt and were traveling through the desert, they began to complain about the lack of food. God provided them with manna, a type of bread, every morning and quail in the evening.

During a time of drought and famine, the prophet Elijah was sent by God to a widow in Zarephath. Despite her own dire circumstances, the widow provided Elijah with food, and in return, God miraculously ensured that her jar of flour and jug of oil never ran out until the drought ended. (1 Kings 17:8-16).

Before his encounter with the widow of Zarephath, Elijah was sustained by ravens while hiding in the Kerith Ravine. God commanded the ravens to bring him bread and meat. ( 1 Kings 17:1-6)

Elisha, the successor of Elijah, performed many miracles, one of which involved feeding a hundred men with a small amount of food. A man brought Elisha twenty loaves of barley bread, which Elisha then used to feed a hundred men, with food left over.( 2 Kings 4:42-44)

In the New Testament too we find a number of instances where Jesus has taken the initiative to feed his people. One of the most famous miracles performed by Jesus, where He fed a large crowd of five thousand men, besides women and children, with just five loaves of bread and two fish. "And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children." Matthew 14:19-21.

Similar to the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus miraculously fed four thousand men, besides women and children, with seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. "Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children." Matthew 15:36-38.

Jesus Provides Breakfast for His Disciples. After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples by the Sea of Galilee. He instructed them to cast their net on the right side of their boat, resulting in a miraculous catch of fish. Jesus then prepared breakfast for them. John 21:1-14.

While not a miraculous feeding in the same sense as the others, the Last Supper is a significant event where Jesus shares a final meal with His disciples before His crucifixion, instituting the practice of Communion. This ensured  Jesus’  physical  presence in the Church.

Throughout history, rulers have sought to leave a lasting legacy through various means, including monumental architecture, cultural achievements, military conquests, and legal reforms.

The Pyramids of Giza, especially the Great Pyramid built for Pharaoh Khufu (also known as Cheops), are among the most iconic monuments in the world. These massive structures were built as tombs and are a testament to the architectural and engineering prowess of ancient Egypt.  The pyramids symbolize the power and divine status of the pharaohs and remain one of the most recognizable symbols of ancient civilization.

Nebuchadnezzar II is credited with constructing the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, as well as significantly expanding and beautifying the city of Babylon itself, including the Ishtar Gate.  These constructions showcased the wealth, power, and sophistication of Babylon under his rule.

Darius I built the Royal Road, a vast network of roads facilitating communication and trade across the Persian Empire. He also constructed the ceremonial capital of Persepolis, which became a symbol of Persian grandeur.

Hadrian's Wall was built under the orders of Roman Emperor Hadrian to protect the northern boundary of the Roman Empire in Britain. It stretched about 73 miles and included forts, milecastles, and turrets.

All of them  remain as historical and archaeological landmarks only.  Unlike the monumental structures built by emperors to immortalize themselves, Jesus Christ chose a profoundly different way to ensure His presence and legacy continued on Earth. He instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist. This sacrament is unique in that it provides a means for the faithful to experience Jesus' spiritual and, according to Catholic and Orthodox belief, His real physical presence in a non-monumental, yet profoundly personal and communal way.

Eucharist is the symbol of Jesus’ presence in the church and  it is a spiritual nourishment, sustaining the believer's faith and connecting them intimately with Jesus. Just as physical food sustains the body, the Eucharist sustains the soul. The Eucharist unites the faithful not only with Christ but also with one another. It is a communal act that brings together the body of believers, fostering a sense of unity and shared faith. The Eucharist is a memorial of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. It is a way for Christians to remember and participate in the Paschal Mystery – Jesus' passion, death, and resurrection.

In contrast to the static nature of physical monuments, the Eucharist is a dynamic, living memorial. It is celebrated repeatedly, allowing each generation of Christians to experience Christ’s presence in a tangible way. This continuous, living tradition ensures that Jesus' presence and the grace of His sacrifice are accessible to believers everywhere and at all times.

While emperors built grand monuments to secure their legacies, Jesus instituted the Eucharist to ensure His living, spiritual, and physical presence among His followers. This sacrament transcends time and space, offering a perpetual, intimate connection with Jesus that surpasses the permanence of any physical structure. Through the Eucharist, Jesus' promise to be with His disciples "always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:20) is fulfilled in a deeply personal and communal manner.

Sharing in the Eucharist places several significant demands on us, calling us to live in ways that reflect the profound spiritual and communal significance of the sacrament.

The Eucharist is a communal act that unites believers as the Body of Christ. It demands a commitment to building and maintaining unity within the church, overcoming divisions, and fostering a spirit of love and fellowship among all members.

Sharing in the Eucharist calls us to emulate Christ’s love and sacrifice by serving others. This includes acts of charity, justice, and compassion, particularly towards the poor, marginalized, and those in need. The sacrament strengthens and sends believers out to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world.

Sharing in the Eucharist demands a holistic response from Christians that touches every aspect of their lives. It calls for faith, repentance, unity, service, holiness, evangelization, gratitude, and spiritual growth. Through these demands, the Eucharist shapes believers into a community that embodies the love, sacrifice, and presence of Christ in the world.