The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity flows into today’s celebration of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The Church, in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, leads us from the mystery of God’s sublime unity in three equal divine persons toward meditation on that union, now expressed in the Holy Eucharist. Our communion today is in the same Body and Blood of Christ that he promised to share with his followers so many years ago. Jesus is not merely a man, for we know him to be fully united with God. He demonstrates his humanity by uniting himself fully with us in the Eucharist. The unity that we have in Jesus Christ calls us to give everything and receive even more in the world to come.
As Jesus is offering himself, the hearts of his Jewish hearers were filled with protest. How can this man give us his flesh to eat? It was impossible to understand the meaning of the Eucharist without faith, and faith could only be founded upon the resurrection. We are learning how to live and never die just as Jesus says. His death means life for us. In the Eucharist, we commemorate the death of Christ, but are led into an ever greater share of his life that surpasses all death. It is necessary for each Christian to discover this life and the living of it. Our Blessed Lord unites his life with the act of our living so that the Church would have an undivided life.
As Jesus introduces his teaching about the Eucharist, the ancient memory of manna in the desert comes to the minds of his hearers. The food that God gave instructed the people in addition to feeding them. By allowing Israel to undergo the pangs of hunger, the Lord intended his instruction to permeate the entire being of his newly claimed people. Man does not live on bread alone but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. The Lord wanted to know whether his people were intent on following him with all that they had. The life of God’s people is determined by the will of the one who gives them life.
Man does not live by bread alone. By taking up our symbol of bread, God has added his own word of life to what appears ordinary to us. Bread is meant to be shared just as the life of Jesus is meant to be shared. Jesus is the Word made flesh and the true bread sent from the Father. While the desert was hard for the Egyptians, the bread God gave was a reminder that they were not alone, because their life was not only from bread. The life of Israel came from God.
I cannot deny that these are difficult days, and especially for the Church. Loneliness is a very common thing amongst us these days that ironically seems to unite us. Jesus accompanies us through conditions that are even more difficult, dry and barren that the desert traversed by Israel. While trials come to us at every hour of our Christian life, the Eucharist encourages each person to remain united with the living one.
The scandal of the Eucharist was not an outright rejection of divine assistance, but more a realization that death seemed to make the Eucharist an impossibility. Jesus allowed his hearers to be scandalized or tripped up by his words for the sake of the faithful who wanted to know the truth. The truth for us is that in addition to worshipping Christ in the Eucharist and receiving the sacrament of his body and blood, we are also surrounded by countless stumbling blocks of a lesser sort. For much less, people do abandon Jesus Christ and his Church. The sublime unity that Jesus offers us by means of the Church and the sacrament is lost on people again and again.
It has always been very fitting to speak and right about the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. The Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ is fully and really present under the accidents of bread and wine. In other words, the sacred species are not bread or wine any longer. This is Jesus’ choice to be humbly and substantially united to us through an abiding sacrament.
At the level of being, that is reality itself, Jesus is uniting himself to believers. Through the faith that God the Father implants in our hearts, we are joined to the Body of Christ in communion. The Holy Spirit and He alone makes Eucharist joyful. Life is meant to be lived for this communion with God and one another. This is the life Jesus promises to the one who feeds on him. Though he cannot be harmed in the Eucharist, Jesus is united to us more fully than ever, even as we ourselves are harmed by the many vicissitudes of life.
As people abandoned the gift that they did not know, so to people abandon the Catholic Church for trivial and superficial reasons. When compared to the love of God in Jesus Christ, the serious sins that separate people from God melt away with a genuine conversion of heart. Christian faith for us means commitment to the Eucharist in spite of all that comes. We want to remain always united to our God no matter who ignores this union. Union with God makes our problems seem quite insignificant.
Remember then that Jesus was willing to make himself insignificant for love of you and I in the Church. He made the doctrine of his most abiding gift in this world seem unimportant. Christ wished for the faithful to discover the union of man with God here and now in unsuspecting moments, in the midst of lives that seem ordinary. Christ knew that his faith could only stay alive in us if it became somewhat ordinary, akin to what we call food.
To this humble king, reigning from the cross and the tabernacle of our Church, we rightly give adoration and praise. The praises we utter this day fade in time, but they are heard in eternity. Our worship appears to us to be quite finite, even though it is the very best each of us can do. I have learned so much by worshipping with you each Sunday. Today, our prayers are rising and our love is growing. I pray that my love for you and yours for me would always be united in an eternal embrace of love.
May the Trinity we do not see draw us more perfectly together in the Eucharist this day.