June 2, 2024 – Corpus Christi [Year B]

Fr. Matt Siegman

This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, often called Corpus Christi. This Sunday gives us the opportunity to renew our devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and remind ourselves that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. It is also a good Sunday to make sure that we’re receiving the Eucharist properly. For example, to prepare for such an enormous gift of God becoming food for us, we must complete the Eucharistic Fast of one hour (there are exceptions, such as pregnancy, so talk to your priest if you have questions) and we must have gone to confession for any known mortal sins.

The Gospel today, and certainly the sequence, a beautiful piece of poetry written by St. Thomas Aquinas for the Feast of Corpus Christi, point to the reality that the Eucharist is a mysterious gift of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. The readings from Exodus and the Letter to the Hebrews, however, focus on a different aspect of the Eucharist. In Exodus, we hear about Moses making sacrifice to ratify a covenant with the Lord: they will be the Lord’s people, and the Lord will be their God. Moses sprinkled the blood of the sacrificial offerings on the people as a symbol of their acceptance of a covenant with God.

This covenant was broken, often, by the Israelite people; however, God is not so fickle in his covenants. He proclaimed, through the prophets, that he would make a new covenant, one which they could not break. This is why Christ came not only as a Savior, not only as a King, not only as a Prophet, but also as the Great High Priest. He offered a much greater sacrifice to the Father and made with us an even greater covenant. Yes, we are still to be his people. Yes, he is still to be our God. But this time, Christ freed us from the shackles of Sin and Death by the power of the Resurrection when we mystically died and were reborn in Christ at our Baptisms. When we died and rose with Him at our Baptism, Christ wrote the new covenant on our hearts, and he freed us.

And to remind us of this great New Covenant that God has made with us through Christ, he gave us his Body and Blood to remind us of that covenant. Much more than the blood of a bull or a goat, the Body and Blood of Christ that we receive at Mass renews the New Covenant of Christ that is written on our hearts. If we allow it, the Eucharist will lead us to eternal life. “Whoever eats this Bread,” the Lord says in John’s Gospel, “will live forever.” (6:51)

In the Lauda Sion Salvatorem sequence we heard today, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “This the truth each Christian learns, / Bread into his flesh he turns, / To his precious blood the wine: // Sight has fail’d, nor thought conceives, / But a dauntless faith believes, / Resting on a pow’r divine. // Here beneath these signs are hidden / Priceless things to sense forbidden; / Signs, not things are all we see.” The Eucharist is a gift that is incomprehensible to us. The fact that the Body and Blood of Christ look like Bread and Wine is, in a way, a gift. There are volumes that we do not understand about the gift of the Eucharist. If we saw actual body and blood, not only would it be horrifying, but it would not remind us that there is more we do not know about God and the Eucharist than we do know. This is a moment when we turn to our faith in Jesus Christ. We trust in him and his power to save us. Most importantly, we savor the small taste of Heaven which has been offered to us in the Eucharist.