“Brothers and sisters: I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
1 Corinthians 11:23
We Catholic Christians have a very radical religion. Corpus Christi, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord, demonstrates how unique our faith really is. The Son of God had not only the humility to become a human being, but even went so far as to offer us His Body and Blood to consume, that we might become like Him, members of his family, that we might die and rise with him as he went to the cross.
For 2000 years our church has believed that Jesus really hides himself under the appearances of bread and wine at Mass. He does this so that we might consume Him, worship Him and in a sense to even be able to see Him in this life, though only with the eyes of faith. Bread produces crumbs: it can be messy. Wine can spill, just as Christ’s blood was poured out on the cross onto the ground, thus sanctifying all of creation.
Jesus tells us quite plainly in this Sunday’s gospel that “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you” (John 6:53). Many who heard Jesus say this at the time were quite scandalized by what He said, and Scripture follows this by saying that many of them, not understanding at the time, “followed Him no more” (John 6:66). Who could blame them? The Mosaic Law forbade Jews from drinking blood of any kind. Jesus would have sounded like not only a law-breaker, but a cannibal as well. He truly must have seemed out of his mind. In fact, the Romans really did think the early Christians were cannibals. In the same way, Jesus does not always reveal why he permits some things in our lives now: he wants us to trust first.
It takes a gift of faith to believe that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist. While it may look, taste and even smell like bread and wine, the Eucharist is actually something quite different. Remember that when Jesus walked the earth, he didn’t look like the Son of God, either. No, it took a gift of faith, and in fact it still does.
Because Jesus looked so very ordinary, it was necessary for the disciples to believe in him through faith. Of course, the Eucharist looks very ordinary, too, but this is in order that we, too, in this time and place may also have the opportunity to believe in Jesus through faith. Let us pray for a greater faith in Our Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament. Though He remains disguised, it is truly Jesus.