Jesus is Our Bread of Life

06-19-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, CSSp

The feast of the Body and Blood of Christ according to Living Liturgy “is God’s hospitality in the gift of Jesus, shared with the world in His personal fullness, in His body and blood”. The feast is a declaration of the Catholic faith of the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist which is a core belief of the church from the earliest time till date. It is a belief that most modern Christians including many Catholics have some form of doubt about the teaching but it is a belief that makes us different from the other churches. The church teaches that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian worship. It teaches that Christ is real present whole and entire in a unique manner in the form of bread and wine after the words of consecration by the priest.

In the first reading from the book of Genesis we are presented with the figure of Melchizedek the priest of the Most High God who declares on Abraham countless blessings and this was done in a ceremony of blessing of Bread and Wine in which form we encounter Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist. John Bergsma, a scripture scholar, says, “Genesis 14:18-20 reminds us that in Jesus we still have a priest who exercises the priesthood of Melchizedek, a priesthood that involves the offering of bread and wine, which confers on the recipients blessing and salvation from their enemies.”

We see the blessing and sharing of bread as a powerful unifier of the three readings of today. Thus, in the Eucharist Jesus is broken and offered for us as a food for the nourishment of our spiritual and physical life. Jesus promised to be with us until the end of time (Matthew 28:20). In the Eucharist He provides a visible sign and an effective means of Him being present to us and us being present to Him. As Jesus Himself said, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” Jesus said that He came that we may have life and have it to the full (John 10:10). In the Eucharist He provides a visible means of communicating this life to us so that we can be fully alive both in this world and in the next. As Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day” (John 6:53-54).

One may ask why do we have this feast in the first place. According to Fr. Munachi Ezeogu, a feast like this affords us the opportunity to give God collective thanks for Christ’s abiding presence with us which is made visible in the Eucharist. It is also an opportunity for us to seek a better understanding of the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ and to order our attitude to it accordingly, since the Eucharist is a sacrament of life which, if misused, could bring about the opposite effect.

Today’s gospel passage from Luke’s account enlightens us on God’s providence for His people. God does so in a most surprising way, using things in our own hands and within our reach, to do the miracle. The passage goes further to teach us that there is an abundance of food for everyone if only we can share a little of whatever we have with others. The disciples provided the little of what they had and placed it in the hand of Jesus who blessed it and gave it back to the disciples to share with the people and at last there was enough for everyone. The moment we bring the little of whatever we have to share with others and place it before Jesus for blessing, there would be enough for everyone in the world. Finally, our little effort yields greater fruit for us and others when we hand it over to God for blessing.

Happy Feast of the Corpus Christi to you all.

Fr. Tony Okolo