The Feast of Corpus Christi, which we celebrate this Sunday, is a celebration of the fulfilment of Jesus’ promise that he would remain with us forever, even to the end of the age (Matt 28:20). Jesus remains with us in a variety of ways; he dwells in the hearts of those who are baptised into his family. Jesus also said that he would be present when two or more are gathered in his name (Matt 18:20). Jesus is also present to us in his Word, the teachings he left us in the writings of the four Gospels. However, there is only one way in which Jesus is substantially present to us and this is his presence in the Eucharist. When we receive Holy Communion, we really do consume Jesus in his Body and his Blood, we also receive him in his humanity and his divinity.
It is clear from the Gospel today that the people who were listening to Jesus were alarmed by his teaching on the Eucharist. The Jews did not comprehend how Jesus could give them his flesh to eat, it would be a complete departure from their laws that governed what was acceptable and clean to eat. They did not understand the great gift that Jesus wanted to give them, they did not understand how this could be possible. Jesus makes things even more clear in John 6:54 where he uses a different word for eat, which appears in original Greek. The word used in verse 54 is ‘trogo’ instead of ‘phago’, ‘trogo’ means to “gnaw and chew”, it is a crude way of eating, associated with how an animal would eat its prey. Jesus is clearly revealing that he is the new bread from Heaven, the new bread of the New Covenant.
Jesus substantial presence in the Eucharist, is the greater fulfilment of the spiritual sustenance that was given to the people of Israel as they wandered through the desert, on their way to the promised land. Jesus is the real bread from heaven which will give us life forever, he is the food that truly changes us, and makes us more like himself.
Throughout the history of the Church there have been many Eucharistic miracles, hundreds have been investigated and confirmed to be authentic by the Church. One of the more recent miracles occurred in Legnica, Poland. The miracle occurred in 2013 and was confirmed to be authentic by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in 2016. The Eucharist literally turned into a sliver of human cardiac tissue (heart muscle), with the blood group AB and it contained hormones which are usually found in a person who has undergone severe torture.
Jesus truly wants to give us his heart, Jesus wants to draw close to us in an intimate way when we receive him in the Eucharist. This is a clear sign of how much God loves each one of us, that God in the second person of the Trinity desires to abide in us. This act of Jesus’ love is a sign that we can place all our trust in him, for he desires the best for us. Jesus desires us to always be with him in this world and in the world to come.
Fr Tony King