Fr Nigel’s Homily: On this great solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, the Church celebrates the timeless gift of the Real Presence. Our hearts are filled with gratitude and thanksgiving for the love that has been given to us. The Holy Spirit looks kindly upon us, at our simple offering of bread and wine and, through the mystery of transubstantiation, changes them into something more significant: the true food and the real drink, the body and blood of our saviour.
The Eucharist is not simply a sign or a symbol, it is Jesus really, truly and substantially present under the Eucharistic signs of bread and wine. During this time we have been physically isolated from receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. The lifeblood that spiritually and physically nourishes us, the tangible presence of Christ. That is why we have been longing and a pining to receive our Lord.
If we love someone, it is so much better for us to be with them in person than to merely see them in a picture. In a sense, these online masses bring us together but how much better is it now that our churches are opening up for us to receive the real presence and gather in community?
Some people think that as Catholics our thoughts on the Eucharist are peculiar. They would be no different from the earlier disciples in John’s Gospel who followed Jesus but left him because he said.
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
His disciples quarrelled among themselves: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” They found his words too hard to accept and left. Jesus doesn’t call them back and say that he was speaking symbolically or metaphorically. Jesus further emphasizes:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”
The presence of the risen Christ in the Eucharist is an inexhaustible mystery that the Church can never fully explain in words. We must remember that the triune God is the creator of all that exists and has the power to do more than we can possibly imagine.
Let us return to our churches now that the way is opening up for us and receive the real presence of our Saviour.