On the first day of the Festival of the Unleavened Bread, the day when the Passover Lamb was killed, the disciples asked him, “Where would you have us go to prepare the Passover meal for you?” So Jesus sent two of his disciples with these instructions, “Go into the city, and there a man will come to you carrying a jar of water. Follow him to the house he enters and say to the owner, “The Master says, Where is the room where I may eat the Passover meal with my disciples?” Then he will show you a large room upstairs, already arranged and furnished. There you will prepare for us.” The disciples went off. When they reached the city, they found everything just as Jesus had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal. While they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to them. And he said, “Take this, it is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after he had given thanks, he passed it to them and they all drank from it. And he said, “This is my blood, the blood of the Covenant, poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not taste the fruit of the vine again, until that day when I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.” After singing psalms of praise, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
—Mark 14: 12-16, 22-26
The week after Trinity Sunday, the Catholic Church joyfully commemorates the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. On the feast of Corpus Christi, traditionally, the Blessed Sacrament is processed around the parish or within the church grounds for people to publicly adore Jesus in the sacred host. This is a very sacred act for Catholic Christians as they celebrate Jesus’ saving act through the Eucharist and in the sacraments. On the celebration of the Corpus Christi (the Body and Blood of Christ), the Triune God is present in the Christ’s body and blood, and this loving act of sharing Jesus’ body and blood for our salvation and our restoration in God’s fold.
Jesus offering himself as the paschal sacrifice when he blessed the bread, broke it, and shared it with His disciples, likewise, He blessed the cup and shared it with them, is the greatest act of the unconditional and unwavering love of God. With a clear instruction to do this act in Jesus’ remembrance, the Church continues to celebrate this paschal offering and sacrifice where Jesus becomes the gift for offering, for He is the lamb who was slain.
This event that took place in the “upper room” during the Festival of the Unleavened Bread, more than two thousand years ago is being re-enacted as remembered and re-lived every time we celebrate the Eucharist. The Eucharist is a meal, where everyone is invited to take part. Jesus in his body and blood is received by the faithful in the celebration of the Eucharist
The Eucharist is a memorial service, the peak of the liturgical life of the Church the highest form of worship. It is prayer of memory made fresh and real every celebration, it is made present now in our midst. Jesus is calling us to hear God’s Word and had asked us not to harden our hearts, so that we are able to offer our very lives. And as we present the gifts, we request the Lord to receive our prayers and the gifts of our labor, fitting and pleasing to His reception. In the breaking of the bread of life and sharing of the cup of salvation, we partake in the meal of the Lord.
In the Eucharistic prayer, we always hear Jesus’ saying: “Take this all of you and eat it, this is my body which will be given up for you. Take this all of your and drink from it, this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant, it will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven, do this in memory of me.” The words of sacrifice is the summary of Jesus’ love for us.
As Christians, we are invited to break bread with our brothers and sisters and share the blessings of life. The Eucharist is a sharing experience; sharing of the love of God and sharing of the love of God’s people. And when the priest says: “The Mass is ended, go in peace to love and serve the Lord and neighbor,” the Mass has not really ended but just started. The mission continues and goes on and that we are commanded “to go” and preach the good news, teach them God’s commands, and baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Just like Jesus, we shall also offer ourselves for others, maybe not as bread and cup of life, but as blessings of life that we receive from the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we lovingly offer our commitment and resolve to serve our least brothers and sisters in their everyday struggles and hopes for better life. Corpus Christi gives life, nurtures life, and sustains life. Our lives should also promote, inspire, and share life.
Let us pause and reflect on these questions as we solemnly celebrate the Corpus Christi:
Have I followed Jesus faithfully? Have I kept faithfully our covenant with God?
Do I receive Jesus regularly in the sacraments of the Church? Do I receive Jesus heartily in the Eucharistic celebration?
Do I recognize that Jesus is always present in our midst through the sacraments of the Church?
Like the Corpus Christi, am I also willing to share my life with others who are in need?
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, may your body and blood purify us, forgive us our sins, and strengthen us in our daily lives. May your body and blood make us fully human and fully alive as we serve others in your name. Amen.