Sunday Reflection: Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus ( Year C )

Gospel Reading:

Jesus made the crowds welcome and talked to them about the kingdom of God; and he cured those who were in need of healing.

It was late afternoon when the Twelve came to him and said, ‘Send the people away, and they can go to the villages and farms round about to find lodging and food; for we are in a lonely place here.’ He replied, ‘Give them something to eat yourselves.’ But they said, ‘We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we are to go ourselves and buy food for all these people.’ For there were about five thousand men. But he said to his disciples, ‘Get them to sit down in parties of about fifty.’ They did so and made them all sit down. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven, and said the blessing over them; then he broke them and handed them to his disciples to distribute among the crowd. They all ate as much as they wanted, and when the scraps remaining were collected they filled twelve baskets.

Further Readings:

In 1919 the Servant of God Joseph De Piro shared this meditation with the Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus, at Fra Diegu Orphanage and the Benedictine nuns in Mdina. He reflected on the words of the opening prayer of the 13th Sunday after Pentecost in the old missal: “Give us, all powerful and everlasting God, the increase of faith, hope and charity.”  

After the union with the Glory in Heaven, Communion is the most intimate union that one could achieve with God. The ultimate aim of the Eucharist is our union with God. Certianly, all the sacraments unite us with God, but only the Eucharist has this union as its immediate objective. Two persons could deeply love each other, yet their souls remain separate because human hearts cannot never be fused into one. In the Eucharist, our soul becomes one with that of Jesus; his divine spirit becomes one with ours.

The Fathers of the Church explained this reality with the use of the example of two pieces of wax or two metals that are melted and fused together. Nothing, however, beats the union between us and the food we consume. Food becomes an integral part of our body; blood and bones. Food becomes part of the mind we use to think and the heart with which we love. This is how our union with Jesus is achieved. Since he is the stronger element, if we may use this concept, attracts us towards him and absorbs us into himself. After Communion we can truly repeat with St Paul: I live, yet not I, but Jesus Christ in me (Gal 2:20).

Through the Eucharist, our mind is illuminated by the light of divine intelligence and our heart’s natural drive to love is changed into a supernatural one. Even our body gradually loses its material instincts, and, instead of being an obstacle to the soul, becomes its most faithful servant. St Thomas Aquinas, aptly called the Seraphim of the Eucharist, affirms this. St Teresa of Jesus, St Magdalena de’ Pazzi, St Pascal Baylon, St Andrew Avellino, the Blessed Eymard and a multitude of other saints all preach this reality.

If these are the true effects of the Eucharist, why are we so cold, indifferent, full of defects and lacking many virtues? This is because we do not have sufficient faith, and, as a result, our love is small and immature. Lord, increase our faith and love (Lk 17:5).

The Eucharist is a furnace of divine love. This is how Jesus Christ appeared to the Blessed Alacoque while she was in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. He showed her his heart in flames, as if in a furnace. Through its action fire becomes one with the object being burnt. The effects depend on what is burnt, for example:

  • fire heats water which boils and evaporates;
  • fire dries up the timber, then burns it and turns it into ashes;
  • fire softens and liquefies iron.

Let us apply this to the Eucharist. This fire of divine love envelopes those who receive Communion and allow it to work within them; we feel attracted to God. Some get into an ecstasy when they meditate in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Many have with tears in their eyes when they approach the Sacred Table. This explains the flames of divine love, experienced by St Stanislaw Kostka, and the radiant faces of many people who were close to God

When we read about these phenomena in the lives of the Saints we immediately cry out: a miracle, a miracle!

How blind are we! Is it a miracle when the fire transforms water into vapour? It would be a miracle if ice did not melt when placed near the fire, or if a piece of timber did not catch fire in a furnace. These, indeed, would be miracles.

We are, in fact, a kind of miracle. We are a miracle of insensitivity when we do not experience the effects of the Eucharist. We lament that after having received Communion so many times, we are still unchanged. We tend to consider the effects of the Eucharist, about which we have just spoken, as some type of fairy tale, or an exaggeration of some sick mind. However, if we want to find the real cause, we have to look for it within ourselves. We will discover it in the numerous defects with which we approach this Sacrament, especially lack of faith and love.