Today, we are celebrating the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. This special Feast is celebrated in remembrance of Jesus who gave His life for our salvation. It is a Feast in remembrance of Jesus’ command to us to celebrate the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
During His ministry on earth, Jesus said, “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] While these words were not understood at the time when Jesus preached them to the multitude, they were spoken in preparation for the sacrifice of His Body and Blood that He was about to offer for the sins of the world.
When the night of the Last Supper arrived, Jesus taught His followers the manner in which the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist should be celebrated. Over and above this, Jesus revealed that He would be physically present in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
Before continuing, I would like to read to you the definition of the Holy Eucharist that is found in the Catholic Dictionary.
“Eucharist (Gr., eucharistia, thanksgiving), the Sacrament and sacrifice of the New Law in which Christ the Lord is Himself present, offered, and received under the species of bread and wine. The name is from the account of the last Supper.”
“The Catholic Church teaches that in the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of the God-man are really, truly, substantially, and abidingly present together with His Soul and Divinity for the nourishment of souls, by reason of the Transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, which takes place in the unbloody sacrifice of the New Testament, the Mass.”
“Transubstantiation is the word that was officially approved by the Council of Trent as aptly expressing the marvelous and singular changing of the entire substance of bread into the entire substance of Body of Christ, and of the entire substance of the wine into His Blood.”
“This Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist is proved from the literal interpretation of the promise of Christ to give his Body and Blood, as found in St. John’s Gospel, Chapter 6, and from the four independent account of the fulfillment of the promise at the last Supper (Mt. 26; Mk. 14; Lk. 22; 1 Cor. 11). From the same accounts it follows that Christ is present by Transubstantiation, namely the entire substance of bread and wine is changed into the Body and Blood of Christ, the accidents only of bread and wine remaining.”
“With the single exception of Berengarius of Tours (in 1088 A.D.), none denied this doctrine of the church until the 16th century, when the reformers put forth various errors of a mere figurative or virtual presence, as also of the manner of Christ’s presence. They were all condemned in the Council of Trent.”
“The accidents of bread and wine are therefore without their proper substance, yet are real and not mere subjective impressions. The mode of Christ’s presence is spirit-like, somewhat as the soul in the body. Jesus is whole and entire in the whole Host and whole and entire in every part thereof. At one and the same time He exists in heaven and in many different places on earth.”
“From the Real Presence it follows that He is to be adored. It is evident that the Eucharist is a Sacrament, for it is a visible sign of invisible grace instituted by Christ. Its principal effect is the union of the soul with Christ by love, and spiritual nourishment by increasing sanctifying grace. It produces also a certain spiritual delight, blots out venial sin, and preserves from mortal sin by exciting to charity, and as Christ explicitly promised is the pledge of a glorious resurrection and eternal happiness.”
My brothers and sisters in Christ, keeping in mind all the undeserved graces that we receive through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, with this Sacrament also come responsibilities.
Our first responsibility is the manner in which we receive the Body and Body of Christ. Prior to approaching the Altar of the Lord Jesus to hold His Body and Blood in our hands, we must be in a state of grace. Those who neglect the Sacrament of Confession and receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist while in a state of mortal sin, they greatly offend the Lord Jesus. On this subject, St. Paul tells us,
“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves.” [1 Cor. 11:27-9]
In other words, it is not acceptable to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion when one lives in mortal sins and has no intention of changing his or her lifestyle. Those who live common-law relationships, those in homosexual relationships, those who participate or encourage abortion they are not in a state of grace and do not qualify to receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. The same applies to those who freely commit any other mortal sins (against one of the Ten Commandments) and live in a state of sin, without an intention to come to confession and change their lives are not in state of grace and do not qualify to receive Communion.
Our second responsibility is to defend our Catholic Faith. What I mean is that it is a sin against the Body and Blood of Christ and against our Faith when a Catholic receives Communion in another religion or when a Catholic invites a non- Catholic to receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist in the Catholic Church. According to the Canon Law of the Catholic Church, a Catholic can only receive communion from a properly ordained Catholic priest. It is a sin against the Body and Blood of Christ because other religions do not accept the truth that Jesus is present in Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist. To partake in the communion of a religion that does not accept as truth that Christ is present in the Holy Eucharist is to deny the Divine Presence of Jesus in this Sacrament.
Jesus died for our sins so we may obtain our salvation in His Most Holy Name. He gave us the means to obtain life in Him through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. As such, we are obligated by our Faith to show the utmost reverence towards this precious Sacrament of life.
Let us reflect this week on our actions. Are we all showing the utmost reverence to the Body and Blood of Christ? If some of us have fallen short of doing so, may this week be a time to repent of the sinful way through the grace of God. And may it be a time to once more obtain the righteousness of God through the Body and Blood of Christ so we may proclaim His death until He comes.