Reflection on the Readings at Mass for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi (The Body of Christ) The Liturgical Sense of the Scriptures Podcast, by Catholic Author and Theologian David L. Gray. (The Solemnity of Corpus Christi) Year A. READINGS: Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, and John 6:51-58.
The Solemnity of Corpus Christi (The Body of Christ)
Typically celebrated throughout the world on the Thursday following the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ, grants us the annual occasion to give special praise of the two manifestations of the Corpus Christi among us: first, the Holy Eucharist, and second, the Church.
The origin of this solemnity dates back to 1207 when a fifteen-year-old Belgian Augustinian nun named Giuliana di Cornillon received a vision of a full moon with dark spot sullying it. The meaning of this vision and another to follow the next year was that the Church, which had always been traditional depicted by the moon, because it The reflects the light of the sun, had a dark spot on it because of the absence of a feast allowed us to celebrate the Corpus Christi. It would not be until 1247 when Robert de Thourette became bishop of Liège (LE AGE) when Giuliana prevailed over him to have a diocesan feast for the Body of Christ. In 1263 in the town of Bolsena (BOY SAN A), Italy, near Orvieto, Italy, a consecrated Host began to bleed onto the Corporal cloth that the Host and Chalice were resting on. The following year, Pope Urban IV, who himself had once been the archdeacon of Liège and had been residing in Orvieto, came to believe in the Eucharistic miracle and promulgated the Papal Bull, Transiturus through which he instituted the solemnity of Corpus Christi. Unfortunately, this bull was never implemented by Urban IV, because died just two months after promulgating it. It would not be until his thirteenth successor, Pope Clement X (1305-1314), the first Avignon Pope and the suppressor of the Knights Templar, that the solemnity of Corpus Christi would be confirmed, and it was Clement X’s immediate successor, John XXII who in 1316 instituted the traditional procession of Corpus Christi.
During his June 17, 1990 pastoral visit to Orvieto, Saint John Paul II said: “Even though the construction of this cathedral was not directly connected with the Solemnity of ‘Corpus Christi,’ instituted by Pope Urban IV with the bull Transiturus, in 1264, nor with the miracle that took place in Bolsena the previous year, there is no doubt that the Eucharistic miracle is powerfully evidenced here due to the corporal of Bolsena for which the chapel was specifically built and which it now jealously guards. Since then, the city of Orvieto became known throughout the world due to that miraculous sign that reminds all of us of the merciful love of God who becomes the food and drink of salvation for humanity on its earthly pilgrimage. Because of the cult rendered to such a great mystery, your city preserves and nourishes the inextinguishable flame.”
There is a powerful mystery that Saint Pope John Paul II is touching upon here. That is, the only reason why the human condition needs food for our survival today is because of the fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve. Yet, in that miserable condition God has been connecting with us throughout salvation history by providing us with food. Food, which was our choice in the Garden; “. . . You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden,”1 became our necessity for survival and God has never stopped being there in the midst of daily need by providing food for us. In today’s First Reading from Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a, we recall the manna bread in the desert that God fed us, “. . . 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.” We do not think of this verse as being prophetic, but it was in two ways; first, Christ Jesus is like the manna because He too was unknown to the fathers, and He is also the word that proceeds forth from the mouth of the Lord. We also read in today’s Gospel Reading from John 6:51-58 that Jesus calls Himself the food that fulfills the manna bread, saying, “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.” Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
This edibility of God is also connected with Jewish tradition through the tefillin, which was a digestible leather box that devote Jewish men would wear on their head or wrist that contained inside of it a verse of scripture written on digestible parchment and wrapped in digestible calf’s tail hair; all of which were to symbolize to the Jewish person that word of God is edible. This same edibility of God is also connected to nativity event, where the infant child Jesus was placed in a manager, which was a feeding through for animals. The necessity of God being our source of food and our food Himself is also communicated in the only prayer He taught us, saying, “Give us this day, our daily bread,” – our daily bread which we know to be both Him and the Holy Eucharist.
Perhaps it would be enough just to know that God is edible and that as the bread of life He has come to sustain our life both spiritually and physically; that He is both symbol and reality in being our one necessary person in this life. Perhaps knowing that truth would have been enough for us to press through in our pilgrimage on earth. Yet, for God, that was not enough. Rather, our Lord God needed us to know for certain that our consumption of His Body at the Divine Symphony of the Mass truly makes us one body in Him, so that we might participate as one people in His and the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work of salvation in the world through their Church. In other words, our consumption of the Holy Eucharist truly configures us to the Body of Christ and, thereby, to the mission of the Holy Trinity; through which our unity in Him not only makes us a sign for the world to find and to follow Him, but also the reality of who we are becoming.
This is just one way how the readings at Mass this Sunday connect to the liturgy and how the liturgy is forming us on how to live our lives in the world. Be in the world what you have received through the liturgy.