Corpus Christi-Cycle A-2017

FIRST READING            Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a

Moses said to the people:  “Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God, has directed all your journeying in the desert, so as to test you by affliction and find out whether or not it was your intention to keep his commandments.  He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.  “Do not forget the LORD, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery; who guided you through the vast and terrible desert with its saraph serpents and scorpions, its parched and waterless ground; who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock and fed you in the desert with manna, a food unknown to your fathers.”

SECOND READING                  1 Corinthians 10:16-17

Brothers and sisters:  The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?  The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?  Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.

GOSPEL                John 6:51-58

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:  “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”  The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”  Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.  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.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.  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.  This is the bread that came down from heaven.  Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

My sisters and brothers in the Lord,

“My Lord and my God” exclaimed the apostle Thomas when he finally touched Jesus Himself.  Thomas found it really difficult to believe in the Resurrection.  For many today, to believe that Jesus is God is difficult.  To believe that we eat His flesh and drink His blood is practically impossible.  Yet, God is with us!  God is present in our lives daily.  God seeks us each, personally and individually, so that we can share His life.

Just as the early followers of Jesus found it difficult to accept these teachings, so also today we find it difficult to accept.  When we read of the early followers of Jesus, we begin to see that belief does transform their lives completely.  They can no longer contain themselves and speak of the “wonderful works of God” to all who will listen to them.

The first reading today is from the Book of Deuteronomy and speaks of the testing of the people who fled Egypt with Moses and who form the Chosen People.  The reading is clear:  God lead them into the desert to test them by affliction and to find out whether or not it was their intention to keep the commandments of God.

You and I are taken into the desert in our own time and we are tested.  Faith is a serious commitment.  Faith in this God of our ancestors, the God of Moses, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, the God of the early apostles and followers of Jesus—this is a strong faith!  The challenge to each of us today is the same:  are you willing to obey this God and to do His will.

This faith is expressed in the First Letter to the Corinthians, from which is taken our second reading today:  we are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.  We are one in Christ Jesus!  This faith should unite us and make possible our love for every other person in the world.  It is all of us who form one body.

The Gospel from John today speaks clearly also:  “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”  Even the Jewish contemporaries of Jesus found this kind of speaking impossible to accept.

We Christians can be honest today:  we are invited to believe that Jesus is God.  We are invited to believe that God is Trinity:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  We are invited to believe that Jesus has given Himself to us as flesh and blood to eat and drink.  We are invited to believe that this flesh and blood are given to us in the Holy Mass.  We are invited to believe that God Himself will transform us if we believe in Him and try to do His will.

My sisters and brothers, we have been invited.  May we partake of the banquet!

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip