June 19 — Corpus Christi
The Feast of Corpus Christi (Latin for ‘Body of Christ’) is a Catholic liturgical solemnity celebrating the real presence of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in the elements of the Eucharist — known as transubstantiation. Two months earlier, the Eucharist is observed on Maundy Thursday in a sombre atmosphere leading to Good Friday. The liturgy on that day also commemorates Christ’s washing of the disciples’ feet, the institution of the priesthood and the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. The feast of Corpus Christi was established to create a feast focused solely on the Holy Eucharist, emphasizing the joy of the Eucharist being the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
The feast is liturgically celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday or, “where the Solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is not a holy day of obligation, it is assigned to the Sunday after the Most Holy Trinity as its proper day”. In the liturgical reforms of 1969, under Pope Paul VI, the bishops of each nation have the option to transfer it to the following Sunday.
At the end of Holy Mass, there is often a procession of the Blessed Sacrament, generally displayed in a monstrance. The procession is followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. A notable Eucharistic procession is that presided over by the Pope each year in Rome, where it begins at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran and passes to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, where it concludes with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
The celebration of the feast was suppressed in Protestant churches during the Reformation, because they do not hold to the teachings of transubstantiation. Depending on the denomination, Protestant churches instead believe in differing views concerning the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, or that Christ is symbolically or metaphorically part of the eucharist. Today, most Protestant denominations do not recognize the feast. The Church of England abolished it in 1548 as the English Reformation progressed, but later reintroduced it.
1 Cor 11:23-26
“Give them something to eat yourselves”
There is a common thread that runs through today’s readings, one that is centred on food. Specifically, bread. In the Gospel reading, we are confronted with that familiar scene of Jesus feeding the crowd with five loaves and two fish. Perhaps more importantly, we remember that Jesus first said the blessing before He broke the bread.
In our biblical account, food is accompanied by – or perhaps a part of – God’s blessing. Similarly in the first reading, Melchizedek offered bread and wine as he blessed Abram. In our second reading, St Paul explicitly reminds us that the bread and wine which we receive are ultimately the body and blood of our Lord – the greatest blessing of all.
But how often do we associate food with blessings? And if we are to take a metaphorical understanding of bread as our daily needs (as we do in the Lord’s Prayer), how often do we think of the fulfilment of our daily necessities as a blessing from God? Or do we, in greed, focus only on accumulating more than we are allotted or, worse yet, in our human hubris believe that all we possess had come about from our own efforts?
If we think of our possessions and success as merely an outcome of our hard work, then these are merely a transactional outcome of our toil and labour. But, if we are able to consider the heavenly blessings that came with – and through – all the things that we are blessed with in our lives, then we move from the realm of the transactional to that of the relational.
Through the blessing that comes with the daily bread that we receive, we become children who are loved and cherished by the Heavenly Father. In order to receive this blessing, we simply need to discern and believe.
Can you hear Jesus blessing you as you partake of your meal or spend time with your children today? Can you see His loving hands behind the career that you now enjoy or that job offer that you received? It is He who has said the blessing and broken bread for you.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Jacob Woo)
Prayer: Lord, we pray for wisdom and discernment, and to be focused on You even as we go about our daily lives.
Thanksgiving: We thank the Lord for His blessings and providence.