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THE EUCHARIST, THE FLESH AND BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST
Fr. Steven Scherrer
Homily of Sunday, Corpus Christi, June 26, 2011
Deut. 8:2-3, 14-16, Ps. 147, 1 Cor. 10:16-17, John 7:51-58


"He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him" (John 6:56).

 

A Memorial of His Passion.

Today is the solemnity of Corpus Christi. We honor the Eucharist today. Christ gave us his body and blood in the form of bread and wine at the last supper as a memorial of his passion and death for our salvation, reconciliation with God, and ransom from sin. "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Cor. 11:26). In the celebration of the Eucharist, we offer bread and wine, transformed into the flesh and blood of Christ, to the Father with Christ. In the Mass, Christ offers himself in love, sacrifice, and self-gift to his Father. At the same time, the one sacrifice of Calvary, in which the only Son of God suffers for all the sins of the world, is made present on the altar. On Calvary, he paid our debt of suffering for our sins and freed us from their punishment. In the Mass, we participate in this great sacrifice for our redemption and experience its benefits.


Christ frees us from sin and from the guilt that we suffer because of our sins, and he relieves us of the depression of spirit that is caused by our guilt. In the sacrament of reconciliation (Matt. 18:18; John 20:23) and in the Eucharist, the grace of the merits of the death of Christ for us on the cross is personally and individually channeled to us. In the Eucharist and in the sacrament of reconciliation is the cure of the sickness and sadness of our spirit and heart.

 

Divinization.

Furthermore, the Father sent his only Son Jesus Christ to the earth to transform and glorify us, to illuminate, sanctify, and divinize us, giving us a share in the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). This happens through the incarnation of the only Son of God on earth and through the gift of the Eucharist, for God became flesh and then gives us this flesh, which contains his divinity, to eat in eucharistic form, as bread and wine. Through Holy Communion, we remain in Christ, and he in us. "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him" (John 6:56). In eating him and drinking him, we have his divinity in us, which divinizes us, that is, gives us a share in his divinity (2 Pet. 1:4). We remain human beings, to be sure, but now divine life enters into us with all its sweetness and spiritual delight. The Eucharist gives us intimate communion with Christ. Christ is in us, transforming, illuminating, and rejoicing us with his presence. God became flesh and then extended this incarnation in the Eucharist which we can eat to become divinized.


The Father glorifies and sanctifies us through this communion. The glorious and splendid life of God enters into us through the Eucharist. "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life" (John 6:53-54). Through the Eucharist, Christ is within us, transforming us from glory to glory. "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18 KJV).


The life of an animal is in its blood. That is why God forbade his people to drink blood. "The life of every creature is in the blood of it, therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is in its blood" (Lev. 17:14). But now in the fullness of time, we drink the blood of Jesus Christ, the only Son of God. We do this to have his divine life within us. His divine life enters into us through his blood, which we drink in Holy Communion.

 

Man Does Not Live by Bread Alone.

We thus discover that "man does not live by bread alone, but ... by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord" (Deut. 8:3). Christ made himself into the bread of our spirit in the Eucharist. In eating him, he strengthens our spirit and our heart and fills us with divine life, with life that will live forever. By giving the Israelites manna in the desert, God taught them that they live by the hand of God and depend upon him for their life and sustenance. Today God feeds us with the Eucharist so that we may know that we need more than bread and human food to live and to be happy in this world. The happiness of our spirit depends on God, and Christ brings God to us, for Christ comes and dwells within us with his Father (John 14:23) when we accept him in faith, do his will, and eat his body and drink his blood, which contain his life. To live well and to be happy, we need Christ. And he dwells within us through the Eucharist.


As Christ lives through the Father and because of the Father, so we will live through Christ and because of Christ when we believe in him and eat his flesh and drink his blood. "As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me" (John 6:57). We live through Christ. Because he lives, we live (John 14:19; 1 John 4:9). We draw life from him (John 1:16).

 

A Pledge of Eternal Life.

The Eucharist is also the pledge of eternal life with Christ in heaven after our death. What will happen when we die? Will we continue living? Christ gives us the definitive answer to this question. "I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live for ever" (John 6:51). "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:54). We can put our faith in him that we will continue living in him if we believe in him and eat his flesh and drink his blood. If we have his life in us, we will survive death, because he does not die, and because we have in us the life of the one who does not die. "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, through he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die" (John 11:25-26). Many philosophers have tried to prove that we will live forever, but their arguments are only speculations and are not always all that convincing. But Christ, the only Son of God, has revealed to us that we will live forever through his deathless life that is within us if we believe in him and eat his flesh and drink his blood. Through faith in Christ and through Holy Communion, we can leave all doubts behind and be certain that in him we will live forever.

 

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