John 6:51-58 - Participation in the Body and Blood of Christ is a sharing of life.
Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, also known as Corpus Christi. The last three Sundays, we have celebrated some major feasts in the Church, and today we cap it off with a day reserved for the source and summit of our faith, the Eucharist. Last week we dove into God as a communion of divine Persons, so this week I would like to follow that thread, and reflect on the Body and Blood of Christ as a participation in communion.
“Is it not a participation…” (1 Cor 10:16) is the phrase that we hear Paul use in our second reading. And it is that word, “participation”, that we will use as our lens for this reflection. The word itself, which finds its roots in Latin and French, connotes an act or state of sharing and receiving. When we listen to the gospel, we hear Christ say, “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you” (Jn 6:53). So, the condition for life is a participation, or sharing, in the very life of Christ Himself, which He gives to us as the “living bread...for the life of the world” (Jn 6:51).
Participation in the Body and Blood of Christ is a sharing of life. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” (Jn 6:56). Jesus will use the same language of remaining at the Last Supper when He tells His Apostles that “whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit” (Jn 15:5). Living things bear fruit. In the days of winter, we long for when trees and plants will blossom with fruit from their branches. Now, the tree of life has provided for us the richest of fruits from the pierced side of God become man, who hung upon the tree so that we might have life because of Him.
“The one who feeds on me will have life because of me” (Jn 6:57).
The life that we receive through the Body and Blood of Jesus is the very life that the Son has received from the Father. “I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me” (Jn 6:57). Between the Father and Son, there is a sharing and receiving of life. The Son, in a sense, “participates” in the life of the Father as His Only Begotten Son. They are in communion with the Holy Spirit as they all share the divine life. And so as Christ, the Son, belongs to the Father, we belong to Christ. And through Him we shall have life from the Father by our participation in the divine life in the Eucharist.
Life of Communion
The Christian life is a movement towards full participation in the life of God. The fruit of the Eucharist is communion. When we receive the Eucharist, we enter into communion with the life of the Trinity. The moment of our reception of Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist is the moment of marriage between the Bridegroom and His bride, the Church. We, as members of the Church, are wedded and united totally to Christ in one Body. We belong no longer to ourselves, but to Him, who has given Himself over to us in love. We are His and He is ours. All possessiveness is cast out, and Christ becomes all in us. This is where divinization occurs, in that we become by grace what God is by nature. We become Christ, the perfect union of God and man, as we are transformed into the Body of Christ. We become God in everything but His nature. We participate in His divine life through the gift of grace, which is God’s life, that He gratuitously shares with us in the offering of His beloved Son’s own Body and Blood.
And so in order to participate fully, we must work to empty ourselves of all that is not Christ through prayer and penance throughout our lives. If we are already full, what need have we of food? The very thought of it repulses us. We have no room, no need, and no desire to be filled. Friends, we cannot show up full to the banquet of the Bridegroom. We must arrive hungry with a taste for God on our hearts, a taste for His everlasting sweetness. It is then that we can receive and be filled up by and with Christ Himself, become Him who we receive, and quench the thirst of the One who has been seeking us and desiring our return since the first paradise. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” (Jn 6:54). So, in communion with God through His Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are joined to Christ Our Lord and Lover as He moves toward His throne at the right of the Father, where at last we will rest forever with Him in the heart of the Trinity.
Question to take to Prayer:
Do you have room for Jesus to fill you? How can you start to empty yourself of an idol (a person, a thing, an idea, etc) in your heart so that you can be truly full of Christ? Ask our Blessed Mother to help you in this and to see what it looks like to be filled body and soul by Jesus.