|The Solemnity of the Most Holy
Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)
Psalms 110:1, 2, 3, 4
First Corinthians 11:23-26
“Hocus-Pocus” is a popular phrase which indicates slide-of-hand or tricky magic. The phrase actually refers to the Latin words of consecration, “Hoc est corpus meum,” “This is My Body.” The reference to magic and trickery was a derisive and sacrilegious mocking of the mystery we celebrate today.
We hear in today’s first reading a celebration by the king and priest of Salem in honor and praise of God Who assisted Abram in a military recapturing of his people and possessions. Melchizedek takes bread and wine and offers them in victorious prayer to the Holy and one God. The ritual of the words of praise and remembering are accompanied with the gestures of taking something from the earth which is a gift from the loving God and offering it as a sign that God’s love continues with the symbols of life-giving bread and wine. Today’s Gospel recounts Luke’s version of how Jesus solved a problem that the Apostles encountered. Jesus’ preaching and healing had attracted thousands and when the day grew late, the thousands grew hungry. The Apostles present their true condition; they have only five loaves and two fish. Jesus presents His side of the story and His truth.
Jesus receives the truth of the Apostles, the condition of the people as well as the bread and fish. He has the people sit down on the very earth. He prays thankfully over these products of the earth and gives them back to the Apostles to distribute. The miracle takes place in the hands of the distributors and perhaps in the lives of the consumers. Perhaps there were people there who were skeptical about whether there would be enough for all and went off to fend for themselves. “Sitting down,” putting themselves in a position to be served was their first act of faith in Jesus.
The Body and Blood of Jesus were of the earth as were the bread and wine of the Thanksgiving celebration of Melchizedek. Jesus embraced our human and earthly condition so as to give it life. He came to stay with us and takes several ways to do so.
The community of the faithful is one with Him and so is the Body of Christ. Jesus also nourishes those believers who are willing to sit down in their earthliness and take positions of receptivity. The Body of Christ, in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, unites the Body of Christ with its life-giving Servant. He came to serve, not to be served, and so we, too, who are His body.
The Blessed Sacrament is meant to remind us of how He came to serve us and in turn we, too, become a blessed presence ordained by each celebration to become one of those who distributes His graces.
Those of us who are privileged to extend the Body and Blood of Jesus to members of the community become aware of the tremendous variety of faces and hands which are in front of us as recipients of His tender mercies. So many parts of the One Body and yet for all the different textures and sizes of hands, He has come and stayed to bless and enliven them all. We are all re-membered, re-joined in this One Most Holy Body of Christ. The hands of differing colors and the mouths which speak various languages, all are blest by the Servant Who, like Abram, won the victory and gained His people back for Himself.
Is this magic and trickery? The real miracle is both in the
bread and wine becoming His Body and Blood, as well as that we also become
a sacred presence. We sit down at His table with Him and then rise
to go forth to continue His real presence as His Body. It is not
“Hocus-Pocus,” but the being loved in our humanity so as to share in His
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