Today marks the Feast of Corpus Christi, when we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

On Corpus Christi we celebrate the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. A good way to think about this is to remember how to recognise Christ’s divinity. As Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ is God incarnate – fully man and yet also fully God. A divine man. This is also how we recognise Christ in the Eucharist. The elements of bread and wine become for us truly Christ, fully bread and fully wine, yet also divinely Jesus’ body and blood. This is the mystery of the Eucharist.

Christ instituted the Eucharist on Maundy Thursday, at the Last Supper, in preparation for his passion, death and resurrection. He told us to eat of his body and to drink of his blood. We are reminded to do this, otherwise there is no health in us. Just as our bodies need food and water for sustenance, so too does our soul need Christ’s body and blood to sustain us, to give us life.

Holy Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, is the pinnacle of our lives as Christians. In the Eucharist, the divine liturgy, we receive the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross, He is present and offered in an unbloody manner.

In Mark’s Gospel we learn “Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.”

In Luke we learn, “he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.”

It is a new testament to his divine Lordship. A new covenant to his people, that he is with us and will always be available to us through the Eucharist.

Also, in John’s Gospel we learn that Jesus said, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” And again, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Jesus himself is the bread of life. The Eucharist is our encounter with him. This is why it is the source and summit of the Christian life.

For that reason, we should receive Communion as often as possible. It used to be the case that some churches put off celebrating Holy Communion until special occasions, maybe at Easter and Christmas, because it was seen as such a special event, but this was wrong. The Church emphasised how important it is for us to receive God’s blessing through his body and blood at the altar, and so we went to monthly or weekly Communion services. When I was in seminary – being trained and formed for the priesthood – we celebrated Mass on a daily basis. It is what makes us.

That said, receiving Communion is not something we should do willy nilly. The Scriptures tell us we should consider our state of grace. We should take some time to reflect beforehand, and if we have sinned we should repent of our sins. That might be in the general confession we say together, or that might mean going to Confession to offload our sins to a priest. Either way, we should be in a state of grace when we receive Christ’s body and blood. So before a Holy Communion service, it is a good thing to take some time to show contrition, devise a penance and seek absolution.

The Bible says we are not to do so unworthily, in 1 Corinthians we read “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.”

The Sacrament of Penance is given to us for that reason. It is God’s gift to us that any sin committed after our Baptisms may be forgiven. Confession gives us the space to repent and recover. It is a holy moment in which we are offering ourselves to God, in his presence, honestly acknowledging our sins.

After our Baptism, which is our joining of Christ’s body, becoming one with him, members of his Church, ever other sacrament centres on the Eucharist. The entire Church, our entire faith, centres on the Eucharist. The moment of sacrifice, when Christ died on the cross for our sins, to offer us salvation. He resurrected, and makes himself available to us through the Eucharist which he instituted, for our redemption.

In John’s Gospel, Christ tells us, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

Without the Eucharist there is no health in us. Without Christ, we are nothing. He is our everything.

It is impossible for us to offer any worthy sacrifice to God, which is why he sacrifice himself for us. So we offer ourselves to be a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, in praise and worship.

The feast of Corpus Christi was proposed by my favourite theologian, St Thomas Acquinas, doctor of the church, so that we could have a feast dedicated entirely to the Holy Eucharist, to emphasise it being the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. The feast is universally celebrated by the  Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Lutherans and Anglicans. Most traditions process with the Blessed Sacrament on display, and end with a Benediction. Alas, that is not our tradition, but it is important that we maintained some semblance of celebration with our procession, in order to bear public witness to the miracle of Christ in the Eucharist. Holy Communion is when we are closest to Christ, as we enter into Communion with him, and he enters into Communion with us. Really, spiritually. We must thank God for this miracle, truly divine.


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