The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord, which we know also as Corpus Christi, provides a special occasion to consider the gift of the Holy Eucharist, the gift given by Christ to the Church on the night before he died.
The gospel is taken from chapter 6 of the Fourth Gospel, a lengthy chapter which presents the multiplication of the loaves and the walking on the water, followed by the words of Jesus and interventions of the Jews concerning the meaning of the first of these two signs. The verses in today’s reading come towards the end of the chapter, when the words of Jesus clearly focus on the Eucharist.
In the Eucharist we receive repeatedly the once-and-for-all gift of the Bread of Life. As Jesus implies, it is unlike anything which preceded it, unlike ‘the bread our ancestors ate’. This bread is the pledge of God’s gift of life, and is best understood in the context of the paschal mystery, the death of Christ and his self-giving to lead us to life.
Perhaps this feast may also be an occasion for us to question ourselves about the reverence we show to the Eucharist. The Church encourages us to prepare by prayer to receive both Word and Sacrament, to observe a one-hour fast before Communion (except for those who are infirm), to approach the table of the Lord reverently, to spend time in giving thanks for this extraordinary sacrament, and to show a particular respect and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament reserved in our churches.