Sunday Homily: My Flesh Is True Food, and My Blood Is True Drink

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Cycle A

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Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a
Psalm 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20
1 Corinthians 10:16-17
John 6:51-58

During the exodus of the people of Israel in the desert, God fed the people “with the finest wheat and satisfied them with honey from the rock”. The first reading today recalls how God fed his people with manna. This bread from heaven gave the people life for a time, but did not grant them eternal life. It was only a shadow of something greater that the New Moses, Jesus Christ, would give his Church.

The first reading also states that “man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord”. This also is brought to a whole new level of understanding in Christ: Jesus is the Word that comes forth from the mouth of the Father, he is the Word who gives us life. A third point from the first reading is that the flinty rock in the desert also foreshadows the true Rock, Jesus Christ, who gives us the water of life.

And so, when we read the first reading, the old manna points to the New Manna of the Eucharist; the word of the old law awaits fulfillment by the incarnate Word of God that gives life; the miracle of the water from the rock looks forward to the Rock of life-giving water.

<p>The bread and the wine that men offered in sacrifice to God gained new meaning in the Exodus: “the unleavened bread that Israel eats every year at Passover commemorates the haste of the departure that liberated them from Egypt; the remembrance of the manna in the desert will always recall to Israel that it lives by the bread of the Word of God; their daily bread is the fruit of the promised land, the pledge of God’s faithfulness to his promises” (CCC, 1334).

In the Gospel, Jesus proclaims that the bread that he will give bestows eternal life. The ancestors of Israel ate the manna in the desert, but still died. Jesus can give the gift of eternal life because he has received life from the Father. During the Last Supper, Jesus fulfills the Jewish Passover, anticipates the new Passover, his death and Resurrection, which is celebrated in the Eucharist, and also “anticipates the final Passover of the Church in the glory of the kingdom” (CCC, 1340). Through the Eucharist, we participate in Christ’s sacrifice. It is a sacrificial death that gives life.

In the Eucharist, we thank and praise the Father: we thank the Father for all that he has accomplished through our creation, redemption and sanctification; we sing the glory of God through Christ. In the Eucharist, Christ’s Passover is commemorated and made present by the power of his word and his Spirit (CCC, 1358-1381).

In the second reading, Paul mentions the cup of blessing, the third cup of he paschal meal. The first cup was the cup of sanctification; it opened the Passover meal. The second cup was the cup of proclamation; it proclaimed what God had done and looked back to the exodus from Egypt. The third cup was the cup of blessing; it completed the Passover meal and looked forward to the Messiah and the rebuilding of Jerusalem. When Jesus instituted the Eucharist, he gave a new and definitive meaning to the blessing of the bread and the cup (CCC, 1334).

The fourth cup was drunk after singing the Hallel Psalms and was called the cup of praise. This final cup was drunk by Christ on the Cross. “By waiting to drink the fourth cup of the Passover until the very moment of his death, Jesus united the Last Supper to his death on the cross. By refusing to drink of the fruit of the vine until he gave up his final breath, he joined the offering of himself under the form of bread and wine to the offering of himself on Calvary” (B. Pitre, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist, Doubleday, 169).

The Eucharist, Paul teaches, is our sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ. It unites us more closely to Christ and, through Christ, we are united into one Body, the Church.


Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at mitchelljason2011@gmail.com.

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Jason Mitchell

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