Laudetur Jesus Christus! Praise be to Jesus Christ! Jesus tells his disciples at the Last Supper, “This is my body…This is my blood…which is given up for you” Recall their response. He instructed them: “Do this in memory of me.” And so they did. The twelve offered him their bodies and blood for the rest of their lives, most dying in holy martyrdom. For 2,000 years of continuous, unbroken apostolic succession, they have done this—we have done this – what we’re doing at this very moment—in memory of him. Our response to “This is my body… This is my blood…” must be the same as the twelve. Martyrdom? Perhaps. Offering Christ our bodies and our blood? Definitely.
“Lord, this is my body. This is my blood which I give up (or back) to you.” The Almighty God has given us a body and blood to fulfill the mission he’s assigned us on this earth. We all have a mission, a vocation, in this life. Our bodies and our blood, contained in these fragile earthen vessels, however, have a hidden expiration date. The separation of our body and blood occurs all too soon enough when we find ourselves at our own Calvary of an unknown day and hour in the future. And, therefore, an accounting of what we did with these bodies and this blood of ours must be rendered.
The sacrifice of Jesus Christ’s body and blood on the cross has won victory for those who love him and keep his commandments. The eternal salvation of those who count themselves among his disciples hinges on the degree of cooperation we enter into in the form of responding to Christ’s Eucharistic command: “Do this in memory of me.” We’ll be judged by it. And we pray our judgment is merciful.
To be in communion with Christ, we must recognize a reality of reciprocity. We can, indeed, give Christ our own body and blood. We can offer him our very lives as we enter into communion with him. The Lord God has blessed us with our bodies and our blood to serve his majesty, glorifying him by the good works he expects of us during our short lifetimes. Bodies which, according to Psalm 90, are “… like grass which springs up in the morning; by evening it withers and fades… Seventy is the sum of our years, or eighty for those who are strong. And most of these are emptiness and pain. They pass quickly and we are gone.”
The human heart beats about 32 million times each year. With an average life expectancy of about 81 years, that’s a little more than 2.5 billion heartbeats per lifetime. A large but finite number.
Now, granted, far too many of our heartbeats are spent sinfully. Those sins have either been forgiven or may yet be forgiven. On the other hand, our heartbeats spent in good works of charity and mercy toward our neighbors are inspired by that burning furnace of charity which is the Sacred Heart of Jesus himself. The risen Christ is present in his church in these and many other ways, but most especially in this Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, the Sacrament of his body and blood, that which we celebrate with great joy and gratitude every day, but most especially on this Feast of Corpus Christi today.
C. S. Lewis said, “We do not have a soul…” We’re about to use these bodies we have, as our lifeblood circulates through them, to profess what we believe as Christians. In this we rejoice, for God himself is truly present among us at this Mass in which he speaks his life-giving word and we hear him by virtue of our living bodies and blood. He will soon be present within us who receive the Most Holy Eucharist as we become One with him, bodily and spiritually, miraculously united in the most substantial way possible. Our created bodies consume our God, who loves us infinitely. And we are transformed. Our God, consumed by his beloved creation, has a real human heart which beats with love for us. Is our response like that of Christ’s first disciples? Do our hearts respond and pulse with a fervent love for him?