The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
- Genesis 14:18-20
- Corinthians 11:23-26
- Luke 9:11-17
In the first reading for the Feast of Corpus Christi, we hear from the book of Genesis 14:18-20, “that in those days, Melchizedek, king of Salem brought out bread and wine, and being a priest of the Most High blessed Abram,” and then “Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything he owned.”
The second reading Saint Paul inserts the liturgical kerygma and oral tradition of the Church into his letter to the Corinthians in 11:23-26, saying, “I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.
The Miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes is one of those didactic mysteries that is included in each of the four Gospels and for this Sunday Cycle Year C, the account is drawn from Luke 9:11-17. There are two things that are unique to Luke that is not mentioned in the other Gospels, first Luke gives the deserted town where the miracle took place a name – it’s called Bethsaida, meaning fishing house or house of fishing. Luke also insists that Jesus not only fed the multitude there, but he also healed them.
Together, these readings point to the divine gift; the great offering of God to man, which is a central mystery of the memorial sacrifice; indeed of Christianity altogether.
There is a mistaken idea in some modernist liturgical circles today that there is something belonging intrinsically to the nature of the participants at the mass that they can offer or bring to the liturgy; that there is something that they can add to the liturgy to make it greater; that the liturgy will be better off if they just add their mere humanity and human interests to it, as if the liturgy needs us. On the contrary, the liturgy does not need us, rather, we need the liturgy. At a minimum, this modernistic and humanistic view of the liturgy is a very grave liturgical error that can destroy the faith of many, and at most, it is a lie from Satan himself that needs to be destroyed.
This modernistic and humanistic view of the liturgy is a refutation of the truth of why God sent His Son into the world and why Jesus had to offer up His life on the Cross. For, there is nothing that humans have or possess that they could offer God to pay the price for their sins, and there is nothing that humans have or possess that is of any real redeemable value to God because everything we could offer to God already belongs to Him. What could we offer to God, a lamb? Well, that already belongs to Him. What about money? Well, that belongs to him as well. Our time? That is His. Our life? That is also His. There is nothing we can offer to God, and there is nothing that we can bring to God that can pay the price for our sins.
In the same way, there is nothing that we can add and nothing we can offer to the liturgy, principally because of this; that, the only thing that God would and could accept to pay the price for sins; the only thing that had redeemable value to God is the life of His Son. Christ sacrificed is the one thing that costs the eternal Father something to give, and in giving the life of His Son for those He loves, God the Father gave a piece of Himself to make us one with Him.
And this is a central mystery that the readings at Mass are connecting us to today; that everything we bring to the Mass; whether it is our bodies, our prayers, our petitions, our work of human hands – the bread and wine; everything that we offer to God through the liturgy is given back to us as a gift. Yet, not as a gift that we are to attempt to retain or possess. Just as there is nothing we can offer to God that doesn’t already belong to Him, there is nothing that we receive through the Mass that we can possess. Even physically, the accidents of the consecrated bread and wine enter our bodies and then leaves. Likewise, spiritually, this Christ now consumed into our bodies we are called give away to the world. The same world that God so loved that He gave His Son to. We can no more retain from the world what is given to us at the Mass than the Virgin Mary could have contained the child in her womb from coming forth into this world.
This is just one way how the readings at Mass this Sunday connect to the liturgy and how the liturgy is forming us how to live our lives in the world. Be in the world what you have received through the liturgy.