FEAST OF THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST (CORPUS CHRISTI)
Only in Heaven is there
such a Passionate Lover -
(Gen 14: 18-20): The sacrifice of Melchizedek
“The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” (1 Cor 11: 23-26)
Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. That was “on the night he was betrayed.” That night Jesus' heart was full of sadness and depression at his parting. We can truly say he was brokenhearted that night. He spoke of many things with his disciples and addressed his Father in a long prayer. It was also on that night that Jesus gave us his body and blood to be food for our lives.
In the history of Salvation that was a very special night.
Does not the word 'night' bring to our minds special feelings? Or perhaps excitement or emotions hard to express?
At the end of the year, even though travelers must struggle through a snowy and rainy night, they will hurry to reach the warmth of their homes so that they can be united with their families. We describe the scene in this way: “the year ends this very night. The late homecomer struggles in the snow and wind.” (1) Within one’s heart there is a mixture of anxiety, longing and excitement. The travelers are in a hurry to be home, eager to know whether all is well with their beloved families. But they are slowed down by the difficulty of the travel..
The night before Wen Tian Xiang was to die a martyr's death he was in prison. He was awaiting the morrow when the unjust decision would be announced. For him, “a death by boiling alive would be like sweetmeat – just what I wish for but am denied.”(2). The lines in his “Poem of New Year's Eve” reveal the pain and helplessness he felt at the hour before dawn. He wrote, “Lift up the oil lamp, the night is not spent yet.”(3) At the end of the long night when dawn was about to break, he saw before him the life of loneliness, perseverance and determination. We see the heroic martyr coming to the end of his life, still hoping that his ideals would remain after him and the fire be passed on to future generations.
What does a loving mother feel when her son is going on a long journey and she does not know when he will return? She can only show her love by personally sewing a coat for her son - “carefully she sews and thoroughly she mends, dreading the delays that will keep him late from returning home.” (4) She hopes that in the cold wind of a faraway land her son can feel the love and warmth of his mother’s embrace. And so the mother sews and sews deep into the night.
These are all nights of love and emotion. How then would Jesus have felt when he knew he must leave the world and bid farewell to his disciples? What kind of a night was it for him?
During the three years of his public life Jesus preached about many things. But perhaps the most moving words we read are those of the Last Discourse which he spoke on ‘the night he was betrayed.’
On that night his words were especially full of deep meaning and emotion because on that night he would 'return to his Father's house.' But in returning home he not only must “struggle in the snow and wind (1) but he also must have the courage of a heroic martyr.
In the end he must leave the world. After thirty-three years of trying to establish relationships with humankind, how can he prolong this close relationship?
What the loving mother could do was to pour out all her love into clothes for her son. What did Jesus do? He thought of a way that would last from age to age: he gave us his life in its entirety in the Sacrament of the Eucharist which he himself instituted. “This is my Body, given up for you.” “This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new covenant. It will be shed for you and for all people so that sins may be forgiven.” (Prayers from the Mass).
According to John's Gospel, this is how Jesus had earlier spoken of the Sacrament of the Eucharist: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh… My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.” (Jn 6: 51, 55)
Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist; he sacrificed his life for us and shed his blood for us. He gave up his body and blood in order to become food for the world.
This is the Jesus who remains with us in the world. He is truly a loving God, a God full of the deepest love without reserve. We continuously say and sing out that we wish to labour for God and offer ourselves to God. We little realize that our God cares for us so much that he has sacrificed Himself for us, even to giving up his life.
Gu Yen Wu wanted to know why the bird Ching Wei was so determined in its mission of filling up the Eastern Sea. He asked, “The world is full of injustice. Why do you struggle so in vain, always urging on that tiny body, forever carrying sticks and stones?” Jing Wei answered with great resolution, “I want to fill up the Eastern Sea. My body may fail but my aim will not change. Until the great sea is filled, my heart cannot know surcease.”(5)
Is not God even more passionate? If God is so determined to love all of humankind, how can we repay Him? Can we have the same kind of deep, passionate and limitless love for God?