Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)


By: John Dalla Costa

What do we mean when we exclaim “Amen” to the invitation to receive “The Body of Christ?” The dictionary defines Amen as “ratification;” or “so be it” in the Greek; and “verily” or “truly” in English. But what do we mean spiritually and theologically?

For Thomas Aquinas, the Eucharist is at once a commemoration of Christ’s sacrifice, a participation through “flesh and divinity” in the saving power of His resurrection, and a “foreshadowing of fruition” by which we also receive the grace to answer God’s call in our lives.

Echoing today’s Gospel, St Catherine of Siena experienced: “a deep sea in which the more I seek the more I find, and the more I find, the more I seek to know… You fill us insatiably, because the soul, before the abyss which You are, is always famished; and hungering for You, O eternal Trinity, it desires to behold truth in Your light.”

In a sermon, St. Bonaventure taught that this sacrament “instills the strength to operate” and “raises one to contemplation” so that by “the body of Christ” the person “is able to bear the tiring and incessant growth in spiritual life.”

When asked about why she started up soup lines to feed the poor in the 1930s, Dorothy Day responded that: “Our Lord left himself to us as food: bread and wine. The disciples at Emmaus knew him in the breaking of the bread and so it’s far easier to see Christ in your brother when you are sitting down and sharing soup with him.”

Ever the theologian and mystic, Pope Benedict XVI explains that: “The Lord gives himself to us in bodily form. That is why we must likewise respond to him bodily. That means above all that the Eucharist must reach out beyond the limits of the church itself in manifold forms of service to men and women and to the world.”

“The Body of Christ,” indeed! How will we, this week, define our “Amen?”