Feast of the Body and Blood of
Christ (Corpus Christi)
First Reading ( Ex 24:3-8
) : The blood of the covenant
While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘Take; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.’ (Mk 14: 22-24)
Our life is a book. The life of Jesus is also a book. If we know how to appreciate it, this world too can become a book, a voluminous work.
Zhang Chao in The Shadow of a Dream wrote, “Literary writing is scenes of nature seen from a desktop. Nature scenes are the basis for literary writing.”(1) What he meant was that from a piece of writing we can enter into and enjoy mountains and streams of the whole world. We also can look on mountains and streams, fields and pastures, the wind and all creatures as a piece of writing, and from it see the wonders of creation and the mystery of the universe.
If Christ were a book, what could we read in it? What we read would be his love, his greatness and the sacrifice of his life for all humanity. It was because of love that he sacrificed himself for us. His total love brought about his supreme sacrifice. His whole life is a revelation of how he sacrificed himself completely for love of us. In other words, his whole life is a 'book of total sacrifice'.
Jesus put aside his infinite Godhead, and became a lowly human being. The difference between God and humans far surpasses that between humans and animals. But Jesus chose to become a human being. This is the first level of sacrifice. When he came into the world, he chose to become part of a powerless nation of people, a small country, a subjugated people. Even his native village was ridiculed so much that it was said: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”(Jn 1:46) This is the second level of sacrifice.
He became a human being and chose to be poor. His foster father was a carpenter; his mother was a simple village maiden. This is the third level of sacrifice. His disciples were illiterate fishermen. More than half of those with whom he socialized were marginalized people from the lower social strata. His background was not prestigious, his friends were poor and lowly. The Chinese often say, “Before looking at a person, look at the person's circle of friends.” Looking at his friends, who would look up to someone like Jesus? This is the fourth sacrifice.
His life-style was poor and simple. He said of himself, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Lk 9:58) This man claims to be Lord of the universe and yet he has no fixed abode! This is the fifth level of sacrifice. When his body hung upon the cross, suspended between heaven and earth, the crowd deserted him and his disciples abandoned him. God the Father whom he loved the most and to whom he had prayed daily, was silent and hidden from him. The only ones who supported him, full of love but helpless, were his sorrowing mother who stood at the foot of the cross, and 'one' of the twelve apostles. This is the sixth sacrifice and the ultimate, total sacrifice a person can make.
What more could he sacrifice? There is a Chinese saying, “The people do not fear death. What is to be gained by threatening them with death?” (2) If a person does not fear even death, then there is nothing else to fear. Death is final, the ultimate end.
But Jesus' sacrifice transcended the limits placed by death, his dying did not leave him completely free. That is to say, having sacrificed himself totally, he continued to offer himself. He instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist!
“Take and eat!” He becomes our food. He puts himself into our hands, into the hands of all sorts of people, good and bad, worthy and unworthy, believers and unbelievers alike. How can he protect himself? But there is no such need! He is almighty, yet he becomes the weakest and most easily wounded of all. He becomes the most vulnerable God. And this is not a single act done once for all, it is an everlasting gift. As long as there are people, he chooses without hesitation, or better still, has chosen already, to become their food, enter into their inmost being.
We send for him and he comes. We dismiss him and he goes. He belongs to us, he is totally at our disposal. He is willing and ready for any risk. His blood is destined to be poured out in full for all of us. He does not consider whether this outpouring is useful or not. He has no say at all, he is entirely under our control.
If we are unwilling to be saved he is powerless to save us; it is absolutely within our power to cause his blood to have been poured out in vain! If we really harden our hearts and scorn his love, he can only look on helplessly, sighing with great sadness.
How is it that there are really people who would allow this God who makes such a supreme sacrifice, sacrifice himself and shed his blood in vain? And you, how do you respond to this God who sacrifices himself so completely for you and becomes for you the very Bread of Life?