Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ
We are so used to having the Eucharist around we can forget how revolutionary it truly is. The first reading today speaks of how the Israelites have received manna, a “food unknown to you and your fathers.” What the manna was for the Israelites, the Eucharist is for us today–something totally unknown to human beings before God gave it to us. Never before in human history had God given Himself to us so fully and completely as God does through the Eucharist.
In Greek mythology, Zeus responded to the evil of humanity by destroying the human race and making a new group until they get it right–except each group was worse than the one before. Christianity certainly does not shy away from acknowledging the evil of humanity, but what is revolutionary is the response we see from God–He sends His Son to us to save us. What’s more, His Son gives us the Eucharist as a pledge of His continued presence, and to make us more like Himself. The Eucharist is the only thing eaten which is totally greater than the one who eats it. With all other food, the eaten becomes like the eater–with the Eucharist, the eater becomes like the eaten.
Thomas Aquinas sees in the Eucharist a concrete fulfillment of Jesus’ words “I am with you always.” Through the Eucharist, Jesus makes good on His pledge to be with us, and in staying with us, makes us more like Himself. Jesus makes it clear in today’s Gospel that He wants us to eat Him, that He wants us to take Him in fully and be made like Him. Our wounded humanity will be made like His perfect humanity, and even be invited to share in His divinity. God sees that we can be more than what we are, and through the Eucharist, makes us into that “more.” No other food in history has ever done that. The Eucharist is truly “food unknown to you and your fathers.” May we never take this Heavenly food for granted.