The Feast of Corpus Christi, some food for thought

This week’s reading for the Feast of Corpus Christi (John 6:51-58) is about sacrifice and food. Jesus talks about how he is the Living Bread and that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood has eternal life.

The people who hear him say this are appalled. Understandably so. It’s a bold statement to tell people to eat you. But we aren’t strangers to it either. We see it when mothers breastfeed their babies or when people donate blood. These are real acts where someone is physically giving themselves to someone else to nourish them or even save their life.

Jesus wants us to eat him too. I don’t know if Jesus knew much about nutrition but there is a common phrase used by nutritionists – ‘you are what you eat’. While it is often said to stop people eating junk food, it can be applied here too. We are what we eat. When we consume love, we become love. And because we are all called to follow Jesus, we are all called to give of ourselves to be eaten too.

So, the question is – what kind of food are we? Perhaps we give ourselves to others as poisoned salmon mousse. Maybe we can’t be bothered and give ourselves as the same old stale cupcakes. And sometimes we forget to pour ourselves out for others and become sour milk.

We are all called to give of ourselves as Living Bread. But this also means we must make of ourselves a sacrifice.

You can’t have your cake and eat it too. To be food for others means to make sacrifices ourselves. To give our time to read to our children means we miss our favourite show; to give our money to a homeless person means we give up the 7am coffee; to give our pencil to our classmate means we’ve lost it forever. Jesus gives up more than that – he makes the ultimate sacrifice.

The reading is the foundation of the Catholic belief in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Mass. He tells us he is there in the Mass, not just as a symbol, but completely in body and soul. He is always ready to give himself to be eaten and I don’t know about you but during this world of coronavirus lockdown, I have grown quite hungry for him.

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