Our Good Fortune even in Trial
My dear people of God, wherever you may be, we celebrate today the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. We commemorate that irreplaceable event at the last supper in the Bible, where Jesus gave himself as food, to all who believe in him completely and permanently. In doing that Jesus said: “Do this in memory of me” This episode we read about in the gospel of St. Lk. 22. Anyone who lays down body and blood, gives his entire life and being, everything.
Jesus instituted the Eucharist in a period of great insecurity, trial and tribulation for him and his followers. Even today, the Church is under persecution and tribulation. Nonetheless, we march on. The body of Christ, otherwise called the Eucharist Or Communion or in some denominations, “the last supper”, is the bread of life as Jesus called himself which sustains the Church. It is the food of angels, made food for men. Many glorious, ancient hymns: Ecce Panis Angelorum, Panis, Angelicus, Sweet Sacrament Divine, and in Yoruba language, “Sawo odo agutan, onje t’awon Angeli” and many others speak of the meaning of this great mystery to humanity.”
A Gift Never to Let Go
The Eucharist is Christ’s gift of his unmitigated love, self-giving that joins heaven and earth together. It is significant that this all-embracing sacrifice is celebrated right after the Sunday of the Most Holy Trinity the most ancient of all mysteries, the completeness of the Godhead. The sustained meaning is obvious. If the Trinity is the most ancient of all mysteries, the Eucharist must be the most contemporary of all mysteries. It is contemporary and also accompanies us every day. Thank God for the Church’s understanding and obedience to Jesus words in Luke 22:19. “Then he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me” Not only does the Church stubbornly reenact that event every day, she encourages us to receive the body of Jesus as often as possible. She ensures that the Lord’s real presence is made available to us as much as possible in our Church tabernacles, in the Blessed Sacrament Chapels, the monstrance and oratories where we can visit and be with Lord regularly. Did Jesus not say: “Come to me all you who labour and I will give you rest” (Matt 11: 28). Even more he assures us that we his people are also his body, like the eucharistic body where everyone of us is a branch and he is the vine (Jn 15). He commanded us to remain in him so that we remain fruitful. Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us, and the Eucharist is the most intimate form of his presence with us because through it he is with us and also in us. What a treasure that is! Did St John not say in his epistle: “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world?” (1Jn 4:4)
Jesus made himself food for our souls because nothing touches us human beings deeper in our being than food does. Food, eating and drinking, brings out the best and the worst in each and every one of us. That is why after all his teaching, after all his healing, after all his miracles, after predicting his passion and death, Jesus chose to host the last supper so as to repeat in a most striking and concise form, exactly the sacrifice of his entire life and that of the cross so that even the most inattentive among us would hear, remember and live his life accordingly,
An Examination of Conscience
The Eucharist is the food of unity and the identity of all who believe. It should unite all Christians. It is a scandal that churches today do not share the same Eucharistic table. It is a deep wound that should push us to an examination of conscience and repentance. Painfully, Christian unity is largely hindered by the lack of a common understanding and faith in the Eucharist which cannot be discarded. This is an unfortunate fact that has weakened the witness of Christians and the power of the faith. Why do Christians today find it difficult to believe and confess exactly what Jesus himself said? In John 6 he said: “I am the bread of life”, “Do not work for food that goes bad….”( v. 27) “I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world” (Jn 6:51), “In all truth I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the son of man nd drink his blood, you have no life in you” (Jn 6:53)
Time To Get Real
How can anyone read the Gospel of John chapter 6 and not realize that Jesus meant everything as he said it? Unfortunately, it did not make sense to many of his followers when he said it, and it still does not make sense to multitudes today. How very true it is that what makes sense to the world, often does not make SAINTS and what makes saints does not often make SENSE to the world. In John’s gospel many of those who heard Jesus speak about the bread of life left him. They said: This is intolerable language… just as many do today. Because Jesus could not compromise that common understanding and faith about his body and blood as real food, he actually let them go.
Yes, he would later pray to his Father that we may be one, but not under any circumstance, not by all means, nit at the expense of the truth and not without us playing our part. Sin disobedience, lack of faith, indifference, etc. simply cannot be tolerated among those who claim to be Christians. Too many Christians today have stopped praying and working for Christian unity as the Catholic Church commanded. We must resume those efforts with sincerity. Question your faith and repent. Too many of us today have only a casual relationship with the truth. We choose the path of relative truth and declare that Jesus wanted the Eucharist for all irrespective of their lifestyle, behavior or preparation prepare or not. Some declare that anyone, priest or not, can lead the Eucharistic worship and consecrate the bread and the wine. These ignore the reality of the last supper which is essentially different from the feeding of the multitudes. This is a betrayal of the Lord who loved us so much that he laid down his life.
Such people must answer to themselves. Why did Jesus take only the twelve to the Last Supper? Why had Judas to walk out into the darkness of night even from that sacred event if not for his obstinate persistence in evil? And why did Jesus not call back those who chose to leave him? Instead, he even offered them a free departure ticket: Will you too go away? Thanks to St. Peter who replied on our behalf: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). Of course, Jesus would later say to them: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (Jn 8:32)
Come to the Truth and to Your Healer
So today, all children of God are invited to the truth who is Jesus so that we may be free. For us who receive it the Eucharist we celebrate today challenges us afresh to a life of sharing and holiness of life. Jesus invites us not to be afraid of sharing our gifts so that others might be provided for. I pray today for all those who have given so much so that others may survive during this COVID 19 pandemic period especially those who do not care about publicity or human accolades. May your sacrifice be rewarded. Amen. Do not give up, for in time of need your own jar of oil shall not run dry too. Just like in the days of Elijah and the widow God will fulfill his promise for you.
The Eucharist calls us to holiness and heals us completely. Too many of us today are too concerned with physical healing but today the world needs more SPIRITUAL HEALING to wipe away wickedness, racism, ethnocentricity, Terrorism, nepotism, corruption, infidelity etc. The war, the killing, the rape, the immorality the greed, the poverty and misery we experience are all symptoms of a world that is spiritually sick. We all need renewal from above. Adhering to the values of service, love and humility from the Eucharist will restore us and our world. So, come to Jesus, dear friends, come to the springs of living water, the source of life and you will. Live, come to him you will never be lonely, your soul will never hungry, come to the truth and you will never be deceived.
That the World May Breathe and Live Again
Finally, let us all find ways of bringing the Eucharist, the food of love to life in our community by doing precisely what the Lord Himself did while he walked the face of the earth. He visited the sick, he consoled the sorrowing, he fed the hungry, he preached the gospel by word and deed etc. We all, politician or citizen, business man or civil servant, young or old, must have a permanent plan to actively participate in the mission of Jesus Christ at every level, so that the Eucharist can become the source and summit of our life. There are enough Christians in this world to achieve that in high and low places. Then let us get to work so that in this world, in our time all, everybody will be able once more to breathe and live to become the best of what God wants them to be. May the truth, the love and the healing power of the Eucharist consume and heal our world today.
THE SOLEMNITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI
Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo, Bishop of Oyo Diocese