Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ


Dt 8:2-3, 14b-16a
1 Cor 10:16-17
Jn 6:51-58


Manna from heaven. Over time that phrase has been adopted into our language, used in ordinary speech to describe a gift, an unexpected gift, and perhaps even an undeserved gift. Good fortune falls upon you, things break your way, what you needed to have happen happens, all are at times in popular culture described as manna from heaven. In the first reading today the original manna was indeed just such a fortuitous gift. Wandering and starving in the desert, the children of God are saved by God’s gift of bread, manna from heaven. A life saving gift, a life giving gift, God’s grace poured out upon God’s people. Yet, as Moses reminded the people, life requires more than bread alone, one needs the word of God. More than bread saved them, bread from heaven saved them.
“Jesus said to the Jewish crowds: ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.’”
Manna gave the people of Israel physical sustenance. Food necessary for the survival of the body. A gift from God, a gift that gave life. More than bread is needed to live, however, and that gift comes to us from God as well, the gift of God’s Word. The Word comes to us, bringing the gift of life, the gift of eternal life, if we but partake of the gift that the Word gives us. The Word comes to us as the true bread from heaven. The Word comes to us as food, true food, that gives physical life. The Word comes to us as food, true food, that gives life to our souls. Through the Word we have life, full life, physical life, spiritual life, human life. We are after all both, physical and spiritual, flesh and spirit, body and soul. It is what makes us human, and that human life is sustained by the Word of God, the Word made flesh, the Word given to us as food, feeding our bodies, feeding our souls, our true manna from heaven.

Deacon John
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
May 25, 2008