The Body of Christ (Post reflection)
Our faith and devotion to the Holy Eucharist is well explained by Jesus himself. We see the beautiful shift from the elements of bread and wine to the body and blood of Jesus. We read in the gospel of John 6:51-58.
Jesus said to the crowds: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (John 6:51)
Jesus declared himself as the living bread in stark contrast with the Old Testament manna. He added that his body and blood will ensure everlasting life.
By literal explanation, it will be difficult to understand. Hence, the early Christians were suspected and even accused as cannibals.
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”
This is a mystery of faith that faith nourished by God’s grace can be understood only.
When Jesus knew his death, He convened his apostles through a meal. It was a meal that celebrated the Jewish anniversary of their freedom. It was a meal that instituted the celebration of the heavenly nourishment. It was a meal where Jesus fully explained his body and blood as the nourishment that brings forth eternal life. It was actually the last and the first meal of life.
When he offered himself, it was not a literal flesh and blood. Who will eat his flesh and drink his blood just in case? Nobody. So, Jesus made use of the element of bread and wine but he instituted the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders in one setting to effect its salvific element.
During the community quarantine where the Holy Eucharist was prohibited for mass gatherings, people clamored for it. What is behind the clamor? It is because people felt a drying soul not being fed by the body and blood of Jesus.
The Holy Eucharist celebrated on radio, TV, and online did not give contentment to the faithful. They longed for the real celebration because of the strong conviction that Jesus is received from the Holy Eucharist. The early Christians were persecuted for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist but they persisted because of its efficacy on their spiritual life.
We read from the letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians 11:23-25. I received from the Lord what I handed on to you, namely, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper, he took the cup saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, whenever you drink, in remembrance of me.”
Jesus was indeed an artist who had the foresight of using the daily element of life; bread and wine to become the element of the Holy Eucharist. The mystery of the Holy Eucharist that turns the bread and wine to the body and blood of Jesus is not the work and power of the priest. In the consecration, the bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus by Jesus himself and not by the priest. It is not even by our faith that it turns into body and blood but by God.
We have a beautiful faith with beautiful elements founded on the very life of Jesus. Sometimes, we fall short of understanding them because they remain a mystery but we are all the more incited to trust in Him and long for Him in the Holy Eucharist.
The quarantine prohibits people from gathering as a church but God strengthened his families to practice the domestic church, the family.
The spirituality in the Holy Eucharist was not diminished by the Covid-19. It was all the more celebrated in the families. The family therefore is a body of Christ that was sustained by no less than the Body of Christ in the Eucharist.
The church building is not the body of Christ but the people who assemble, worship, pray, and receive Holy Communion. When people asked, “Where is the church in the crisis?” They realized that the church is among the government officials, among the frontliners, among the soldiers and police, and among those distributing assistance. The church immersed among the needy is the body of Christ at work.
Of course, the Body of Christ first and foremost was the word made flesh and who dwelt among us. The body that suffered, died, and resurrected.
Second, the Body of Christ is the Holy Eucharist that he instituted to feed our life until today.
Third, the Body of Christ is the family, the domestic church.
Fourth, the Body of Christ is the mystical body, the church.
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