“O you who, of your own good will, gave me your Body for food,
You who are a fire consuming the unworthy;
Consume me not, O my Creator,
But rather enter into my limbs, my joints, my heart,
And burn the tares of my transgressions.
Cleanse my limbs, together with my bones.
Enlighten my five senses. Stablish my wholly in your fear.”
My Dear Sisters and Brothers! The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ captures the continuation of the mystery of the Incarnation. The tangibility of the Eucharist has its foundation in the physicality of the Son of God who for us and for our salvation was incarnate and became man. God appeared in the midst of his people in a physical form so that his physicality could become a means of divine communication. However for some it became a stumbling block. Some people couldn’t comprehend that the Creator was willing to take the form of a creature. “We know his father Joseph. We know his family. As for the Messiah no one will know where he comes from” were the arguments of some of Jesus’ contemporaries. When Jesus began saying in the synagogue in Capernaum: “I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh for the life of the world” he met a similar resistance, the resistance which somehow rather has been part of Christian journey for two thousand years. The challenge posed by the Jews from the synagogue in Capernaum: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” has been recurring. Maybe you yourselves have been faced with challenging questions about Jesus’ Body and Blood which we receive at Mass. How does it make sense?
Let us first meditate on how Jesus himself reacted to the question of his contemporaries: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” The Jews murmured because the word flesh which Jesus used means: “the soft substance of the living body, which covers the bones and is permeated with blood.” Jesus was not speaking symbolically or figuratively. It was the language of tangibility. When our Blessed Lord realised that his message was meeting with a contradiction he didn’t soften it or watered it down. On the contrary he moved from using eating to masticating in relation to his flesh. Eating can be used symbolically or poetically like: “eat your heart out,” “eating something up,” “eating my dust” or “eating a horse.” Masticating is not poetic at all. It is very scientific, very physical; as physical as his flesh Jesus gives his Church at the Eucharist.
My Dear Fellow believers! Our faith in the Eucharist suffers when our faith in Jesus suffers. That’s why after that conversation in the synagogue many of Jesus’ disciples left him. The message about his Body and Blood to be masticated and drunk became a stumbling block for them as their faith is Jesus was week. On the contrary Peter watching others walk away declared on behalf of the Apostles: “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” Did the Twelve understand more than the others did? Probably not. However the approach of the Peter and the other Apostles points out to what we say after the consecration of the bread and wine: “The mystery of faith.” Do you realise that we don’t say: “The problem of faith”? A problem is something people attempt to solve. A mystery is something people uphold, contemplate, trust and surrender to. It is something that transforms them from within.
As St Simeon Metaphrates upheld, contemplate, trusted and surrendered to the mystery of the Eucharist which transformed him from within a thousand years ago as we, on this great solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, uphold, contemplate, trust and surrender to the mystery of the Eucharist believing it transforms us from within into an image of God.