Corpus Christi, The Body of Christ
A Reflection by Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD June 23, 2019
Mission Sts. Sergius and Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy
Based on Readings from; Genesis 14:18-20, Psalm 110, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, Luke 9:11-17
www.missionstsergius.org Email: Divinemercyparish@msn.com
The feast of Corpus Christi which is celebrated on the Sunday following Trinity Sunday is one of very special
This year in the United States the feast is celebrated on Sunday June 23rd.
The feast dates to September 8, 1264 when Pope Urban IV made it a feast of the universal church. At the request of
Pope Urban IV, St. Thomas Aquinas composed the office (the official prayers of the Church) for the feast. This
office is widely considered one of the most beautiful in the traditional Roman Breviary (the official prayer book of
the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours), and it is the source of the famous Eucharistic hymns Pange Lingua
Gloriosi and Tantum Ergo Sacramentum which are commonoly sung at Benediction of the Eucharist.
The feast often was celebrated with a Eucharistic procession through the town, in which the Sacred Host was
carried throughout the town while the failthful would venerate and bow as it passed bye, and though it is mostly
forgotten in the US many Europeancountries, especially Latin countries, still hold the processions and often have a
major celebration following the procession with a carnival like atomshpere.
In honoring the Eucharist, especially following the celebrations of the Ascension and the Trinity the church
proclaims one of the basic beliefs of the Catholic faith, that in the Eucharist or Holy Communion as some refer to it,
we actually are receiving the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
The early Christians called the coming together for the Eucharist, the Feast of Love, when participants would share
not only their joy, their hope and their commitment, but also their pain, their sorrow, their hurt and forgiveness.
Without this sense of sharing, the Mass loses much of its value. Since noe one is ever truly worthy to recive Christ
within us, we come to Mass as sinners; we come seeking to be forgiven and willing to be forgiven.
The feast of Corpus Christi is one of the most exalted mysteries of Catholic beliefs, and is often seen as
incomprehensibility to us mortals. It is very often allied with the mysteries of the Trinity and Incarnation as
needing great faith and the idea that the bread and wine received in the Eucharist is in actuality Jesus Christ is
often one that is challenged by other Christian denominations along with The Trinity and The Incarnation.
On Holy Thursday we celebrate the institution of the Blessed Sacrament when Christ took the bread and blessed it
and took the cup and proclaimed the words found in the reading used today from Paul.
Since Holy Thursday is linked closely with the final days of Christ’s earthly life and therefore often with sadness it
was only appropriate that we celebrate the gift of that day to us of Christ’s body and blood.
In the Gospel for this day we hear the story of the miracle of the loaves and fishes and how after Christ blessed 5
loaves of bread and 2 fish they were able to feed the multitude that had followed Christ and there were 12 baskets
left over after all were fed.
The Eucharist is often called “The Bread of Life” because of the promise by Christ that “He that eats of My Flesh,
and drinks of My Blood, lives in Me, and I in him” Those words found in John 6 are a clear explanation of why we
celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi as a separate joyful feast and one that is affirming and welcoming and clearly
shows Almighty God’s infinite and everlasting love for us.
In the Eucharist we have been given Christ as a companion for as long as we live. Through partaking of this
bread of life we receive the strength to overcome the daily temptations that plague us. The Body of Christ is a
sustaining strength for us and therefore a life giving source.
St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians proclaims the following; “This is what I received from the Lord, and in turn
passed on to you: that on the same night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God
for it and broke it, and he said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me.’ In the same way he
took the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a
memorial of me.’ Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are
proclaiming his death.” (1 Corinthians 11:23 – 29)
I believe that we would be better able to resist all the temptations we are faced with each and every day if we
partook of the Bread of life, or as the early Christiaans called it the Feast of Love, that Christ left behind for us in
the Eucharist more often. It is just possible that we might become more faithfully to the teachings and example
Christ gave us and become less judgmental of the differences God created, for reasons known only to Him, and
more loving and open to accepting all the children of God regardless of their race, gender, nationality, creed or
Through partaking of the Eucharist we might become more concerned for ALL the people of this world who are
being oppressed and suffering from the ravages of war, hunger, poverty, homelessness and inadequate health
By partaking of the “Bread of Life” we may have the courage and the strength to become more active in speaking
up for equality, justice and fairness for all people of the world. AMEN