June 14, 2020 – Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/061420.cfm)
If you wish to experience and appreciate the unique culture of other people, try their local cuisine. Aside from their usual cultural sights and sounds, literatures, routine & rituals, exploring the local common & exotic food offers us a taste of the local people’s culture. Local food industry & food tourism have been thriving businesses nowadays because we would like to have a taste and sense of local culture. We do know that there is more to food than just as a source and nourishment. Food mirrors the peculiar resources, quality, and meanings of the culture and lifestyle of the local families and community. For instance, the famous Korean Kimchi “pickled cabbage” has been a common substitute food in Korea to augment during scarce, difficult, icy-cold winter season. We only need to hear the stories behind those local exotic food and delicacies to understand the meaning behind the special taste those food can offer. In the same manner, we get to know people by the food they eat and the people they eat with. We might even say nowadays: “You are what you eat, and who you eat with” or “The food you eat reflects who you are and the company you keep.” Like, a vegetarian eats vegetables with vegetarians. Meat-eater parties with meat-eaters. Drinkers hangs-out with drunkards. We somehow tend to identify ourselves with our intakes and diet, and with those who share with our health lifestyle.
Food has also been a unique faith expression and extension of our Catholic faith and culture. By our celebration of Eucharist, we come to articulate and others come to experience the value and meaning of the Consecrated Host we worship, share and partake. Since for us Catholic, the bread we partake in the Eucharist provides us not only spiritual sustenance and nourishment, but also the reason, meaning & mission to live, and the promise and hope for a better life with God.
Our first reading today reminds us how God has taken care of us His people in our life-journey by providing and feeding us bread from heaven. This manna, the bread from heaven, is not our usual cuisine, but God’s special exotic food for us – “which neither you and your ancestors are acquainted”. This food is not only for sustenance and nourishment but also as medicine “to humble you, to test you – to know what is in your heart & in the end to do you good.” God’s manna then is God’s health intervention and medication for our spiritual healing and well-being. It is God’s dietary food supplement to detoxify us and to boost our spiritual immune system that “let you afflicted with hunger, fed you with food unknown, in order to know that not by bread alone does on live, but in every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord”. And in our gospel today, Jesus proclaims that He is the manna, the bread of life from heaven. He is God’s food given to us to live our live now purposely and to the fullness. Our daily bread, food-consumptions is not enough and cannot sustain us in life apart from Jesus who is God’s word, God’s bread/food of life from heaven.
This is how significant the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist for our Catholic culture and lifestyle. Jesus is God’s way of forming, nourishing, protecting, making us grow and healthy in our faith and life with God in the world. As Jesus wants us to “do this in memory of me”, following, celebrating, taking on God’s diet and Jesus’ lifestyle are somehow the way forward we can opt to live and we can share with others in life. We are Christians because we take on Christ. He is our food in our life journey. People come to see and “taste” our Catholic Christian faith by and in our communion of the Body and Blood in the Eucharistic celebration.
The past few months of CoVID-19 pandemic has been particularly difficult for us Catholic. As our life has been abruptly interrupted and our world has ben partly changed (and still changing unpredictably), our physical, mental and spiritual health have been in distress and crisis. For quite sometime now, we are deprived of public celebration of Holy Eucharist due to social distancing, quarantine and lockdown. It has infected and affected also our spiritual nourishment. As we worry for our daily food and consumption, we do need also to take care of and nourish our spiritual hygiene, immune system and well-being.
As we celebrate today Corpus Christi Sunday, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, let our present spiritual malnourishment and deprivation to commune with Jesus our bread of life from heaven during the every Eucharistic celebration, make us hunger and long more for Him, and properly dispose us to receive Him once again & taste God’s food for our life, soon enough as allowed.
Deprived of, set apart from and hungry now for the Body of Christ, with St. Aphonsus de Liguori, let this be our prayer of Spiritual Communion:
“My, Jesus, I believe you are really present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to feed on your flesh. But since I cannot receive Communion now, feed my soul at least spiritually. I unite myself to you now as I do when I actually receive you. Never let me be drift away and separated from you. Amen.”
(By: Fr. Aphelie Mario Masangcay CSsR, a Filipino Redemptorist Missionary stationed in Gwangju South Korea, though now still stranded in Cebu until further notice for available flights.)