One Body, One Spirit
Being a missionary in a multicultural context, sometimes, I received questions that helped me deepen my faith and strengthen my conviction to live for Christ. One day a non-Christian colleague asked, “When we distribute prasad (a sweet dish offered to gods or goddesses), we distribute to everyone present; why do you Catholics limit hospitality to your own? After all, Jesus had table fellowship with all!” Admittedly, I had to research and reflect a little more to give him a convincing yet realistic answer.
“Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53).
First, the Eucharist is not a meal to be served to guests as a sign of hospitality. Paul distinguishes clearly between meals eaten together at home and the celebration of the Eucharist when writing to the Christians in Corinth. (1 Cor. 11:20). He says those who receive the Eucharist are part of one body (1 Cor. 10:17) and that those who receive should examine themselves first to be sure they understand that they are receiving the Body and Blood of the Lord (I Cor. 11:27). We might include in our self-examination Jesus telling the Jews to be reconciled to their brothers and sisters before coming to the altar (Matt. 3:23-24).
The Eucharist is a sacrament through which grace is imparted to those who believe. It is an outward sign in and through which we meet Jesus. It imparts His abiding presence to our souls, thus providing us the opportunity to share in His divine life. Our faith in the Real Presence originates from the interpretation of His promise of Christ to give us His Body and Blood for our spiritual food and drink. Through the process of transubstantiation, the entire substance of bread and wine are changed into the actual substance of the risen and glorified Body and Blood of Christ, retaining only the accidents (taste, color, and shape).
Jesus instituted the Eucharist during His last Passover meal, which was an intimate family meal eaten in remembrance of God’s deliverance of the Jewish people from bondage in Egypt. Today’s feast, the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, highlights the splendor of the meal in which we receive, even now, the fruits of Christ’s saving work which frees us from the bondage of sin. Furthermore, today is a feast of the Eucharistic Sacrifice which especially celebrates the real presence of Jesus. In this sacrament, the members of Christ’s Body, the Church, are made present to His sacrifice and are intimately united to Him and to each other.
The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ reminds us of the bond we have through Jesus’ sacrifice. Like numerous grains crushed to make one unit —bread —and many grapes crushed to make one unit—wine —we, too, though many bodies, become one with Christ.
May this feast of Corpus Christi strengthen our unity and love.
About Father Jilson Tom, C.S.C.
Father Jilson Tom, C.S.C. is from the Northeast India Province of Holy Cross. A native of Kerala, Father Jilson has been serving in a parish and school ministry since his ordination twelve years ago. He joins the Family Rosary team as an Assistant, while he works to study Pastoral Counseling in the Boston area. With a personal devotion to Mother Mary, Father Jilson is thrilled to be working to enhance family prayer through the Rosary. And if you ever need a listening ear or want to play a board game, Father Jilson’s your guy!