Browsing Pastor's Corner

How can this man give us His flesh to eat?

Jun 4, 2018

In 1263 a German priest stopped at Bolsena while on a pilgrimage to Rome. At that time this priest was suffering a crisis of faith, doubting that Christ was actually present in the consecrated Host. While celebrating Holy Mass, he had barely spoken the words of Consecration when blood started to seep from the consecrated Host and trickle over his hands onto the altar and the corporal.

At first the priest attempted to hide the blood, but then he interrupted the Mass and asked to be taken to the neighboring city of Orvieto, where Pope Urban IV was then residing. The Pope listened to the priest's account and dismissed him. He then sent emissaries for an immediate investigation. When all the facts were ascertained, he ordered the Bishop of the Diocese to bring the Host and the linen cloth bearing the stains of blood to Orvieto.

With Archbishops, Cardinals and other Church dignitaries in attendance, the Pope met the procession and, amid great pomp, had the relics placed in the Cathedral. The linen corporal bearing the spots of blood is still reverently enshrined and exhibited in the Cathedral of Orvieto. From that time, every church in a Catholic country, from the cathedral of a royal city to the most modest village chapel, kept the festival on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday. The procession would issue into the streets followed by the authorities of the realm. It is the public recognition by the Catholic world of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. The linen that the host bled onto and that is used during every Mass where the Priest places the consecrated host and wine is called a Corporal.  The word Corporal means flesh.  This of course if one more reminder of the fact that Jesus Christ in becoming Man took flesh and it is this flesh that He gives for the life of the world.

As we here from the Book of Hebrews:

it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats take away sins.c 5For this reason, when he came into the world, he said:*

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,d

but a body you prepared for me;

6holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight in.

Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll,

Behold, I come to do your will, O God.’”

Jesus Christ is the great holocaust and sin offering…for from His Cross at Calvary He offers His body with every spilled drop of His blood for our salvation.

During the consecration we hear Jesus say: This is the Chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.

But when something is poured there must be a vessel or container that receives what is being poured or it is simply wasted and spilled upon the ground…good for no one. We are literally covered in the blood of Christ.  Again from Hebrews which highlights the access we have to the power and glory of Heaven in and through Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist we hear:

Therefore, through the blood of Jesus we have confidence of entrance into the sanctuarym 20* by the new and living way he opened for us through the veil,n that is, his flesh.”

This is why Jesus commands us to eat his flesh and drink his blood…for in doing so…we fill ourselves with His power and presence which is eternal life, love, peace and joy. Saint Paul reminds us that we belong to the one body who is Jesus Christ.  And we know how important it is to keep our own bodies healthy by way of nutrition and exercise.  

As Saint Paul says:  Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

We belong more importantly to the Body of Christ. The Corporal that is used during Mass and was once bled upon at Bolsena represents us for we are covered in the blood of Christ, embraced by His Body whose arms are extended to embrace us upon the Cross…a reminder that we not only belong to Christ but have a responsibility of caring for the Body of Christ.  This is what Saint Paul means when he says:

“The bread we break is it not a participation in the body of Christ? The Cup of blessing that we bless is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we though many are one body.” But in order to maintain the strength and health of that body you must feed it by receiving the Holy Eucharist and exercise it by way of prayer. 

To be Catholic and have no solemn devotion to the Blessed Sacrament or no desire to receive Christ often especially on Sunday or to pray daily is to starve the body of Christ and like a contagious disease bring illness, injury and harm upon it.

Jesus says “just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.” We too then are sent for having received Christ as once He received His humanity, He does so and we do so in order to give His life for the world especially by way of how we care or express our concern for others…the Body of Christ.

How can this man give us His flesh to eat…He does so during each Mass.


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