Moses reminded the Jews how they had been blessed by God, “Remember how for forty years now the Lord, your God, has directed all your journeying in the desert…He fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers…He brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery…He guided you through the vast and terrible desert with its serpents and scorpions.”
They were blessed by God but they did not live the blessed life that God demanded and for which He had set them free from bondage in Egypt. On the contrary, they abandoned God, adopted the idols of their pagan neighbors, and were eventually exiled from their Promised Land because they failed to reflect God’s holiness to their neighboring nations as God intended.
The Solemnity of the most holy body and blood of Christ reminds us Catholics that we are more blessed than the Jews were blessed because of the hidden presence of the God-man Jesus Christ with us, body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist. In Him we have with us, under the forms of bread and wine, the same God who liberated His people from bondage, fed them with mysterious manna, gave them water from the rock, and patiently directed them all the way to the Promised Land despite their repeated infidelity. We likewise thus have a greater calling to live a blessed life and no one and nothing dispenses us from striving for this blessed life.
Jesus described this blessed life when He spoke of the Eucharist in these words, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.” We can deduce from this statement of Jesus three dimensions of this blessed life that the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist demands from us today.
First of all, the blessed life we have from the Real Presence is a supernatural life, a real and vital participation in the very life of Jesus, “Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.” Those of us who partake of this life are lifted way above blindly adopting or conforming to politically acceptable worldly mores or values. On the contrary we live the blessed attitudes of Jesus listed in Mt 5:1-12 and we constantly exhibit the fruits of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Gal 5:22-23.
Secondly, the blessed life we have from the Real Presence also means a supernatural bond with all others, above and beyond the merely natural bonds we already have with all men and women. We relate with all people because we see them in Christ and Christ in them as Jesus attested, “Whatsoever you do to the least of these my brethren, you do to me.”(Mt 25:40) Because our Eucharistic bread is not just as sign as many erroneously think but a “(real) participation in the very body of Christ,” St. Paul states, “Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.”(1Cor 10:17) Our love for others in this blessed life has Christ as its source, sole motive, and ultimate purpose.
Lastly, the blessed life means that we also live with a deep longing for the full and perfect blessed life of perfect communion with God in heaven. We become and remain heaven-oriented even as we are fully engaged in temporal realities. This other-worldly orientation is only possible because the Eucharist gives us both a foretaste and pledge of that fullness of life with God. We refuse the temptation to be individualistic and journey alone but choose to invite all others to join us in our heavenly pilgrimage.
Our world today is marked by the idols of crass individualism, heartless revenge, and unjustifiable violence in many ways. Violent riots, looting, and destruction of other’s property have been going on for the past few weeks in the United States after the brutal murder of George Floyd, an African American in the streets of Minneapolis. In their individualistic mentality and mindless rage, though the perpetrators of this horrible crime have been arrested, the rioting and looting continues. The arsonists on the streets do not care at all about the owners of all the damaged properties and businesses or those who depend on them for their livelihood. It is obvious that they have no real concern for true justice.
The roots of such individualism and vengeful violence can be traced to the ongoing murder of millions of unborn children in their mothers’ womb. Planned Parenthood, the global abortion giants, have also been found to sell the aborted baby’s parts. Ironically, most of their abortion mills target the low income African-American families. Where is the due global outrage on this infanticide? Doesn’t the life of the unborn matter too? There is an unpardonable silence and even support for this gruesome infanticide from government officials and politicians, many of whom claim to be devout Catholics.
The situation is also bleak within the Church where close to one-third of the Catholic bishops of the United States refused to affirm that abortion was and remains the pre-eminent moral issue facing the Catholic Church today. The unborn babies too have been screaming silently all these years the same words of the murdered George Floyd before his death, “I can’t breathe.” They silently screamed these words as their lives were slowly snuffed out in abortion. Inside and outside the Church, we ignore them and continued to focus on the environment and immigration.
What happened as the Church itself ignored the cries of the most venerable of her children, the infants in the womb? We became a Church that condones and promotes the most debased of violent homosexual acts of pedophile and rape of seminarians by clergy. Young boys and seminarians are raped by Catholic clergy, the violent crimes of sodomy are covered up, the perpetrators are advanced to Cardinals in the Church, and it is all blamed on clericalism.
The fact that the promised Vatican report on Theodore McCarrick scandal is yet to be published after close to two years is proof that the Church has indeed become a den of individualism, revenge and violence. There will be a continuation of the unbridled careerism of the clergy, violence against the conscience, faith, and morals of the faithful, the preying on the young and vulnerable, the plot to silence and obstruct any revelation of such crimes, and the refusal to bring about any form of true justice in the Church.
These are not easy times. It is so easy for us Catholics to become infected with these three idolatrous viruses plaguing the Church and our world today. They are both deadlier than the Covid-19 virus and more difficult to detect and remove. We are so susceptible to these because of all the distressing things in the world today and the culpable silence in the face of evil, theological and moral confusion, and insincerity we are seeing within the Church.
They only remedy is the Eucharist. But it is no longer enough to merely attend the Mass or to spend time in Eucharistic adoration. We must also allow the Lord Jesus Christ to cultivate in us the three dimensions of the blessed life that He alone possesses and offers to us. We first must choose to participate deeply in His blessed life while rejecting any form of compromise with this world’s many depravities. This is the remedy for all forms of individualism because His life orients us towards God’s will and the needs of others.
Let us be clear about this: All lives matter to God and to us because of the blood of Jesus that was shed on the cross and made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice for our sanctification now and for our fullness of life with God in heaven. Because all lives matter to us, beginning with the unborn, we also treat others as our brothers and sisters redeemed by that blood we have received in the Eucharist, no matter their race, skin color or age, irrespective of if they are inside or outside the womb.
We just cannot turn our attention away from the most vulnerable among our loved ones, the unborn, and hope that we will not become grossly individualistic, senselessly violent, and wickedly vengeful towards all people. The words of Jesus ring true in this case, “The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.”(Mt 7:2)
Then lastly, let us remember the heavenly orientation of this blessed life from the Real Presence and strive for the fullness of our blessed life in heaven with God in heaven. We refuse to lose hope in this struggle with darkness inside and outside the Church.
This is the blessed life that we have to live because we have been blessed with the greatest gift – the Real Presence of Jesus Christ – body, blood, soul and divinity. We become hopeless slaves here on earth and eternally lost souls when we ignore this vocation to the blessed life.
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!