The Body and Blood of Christ Year A
Am I conscious of God’s presence in my life? Do I let Him dwell in me?
When we experience successes in life, whether it is a successful career, a loving family or a healthy body, to whom do we attribute our success to? I might think: it is because of my intelligence and hard work that my career is successful; it is because of my wise choice of a spouse that my family is loving; it is because of my good diet and regular exercise that my body is healthy. While these attributing factors certainly play their parts, we often forget that success in life is ultimately a blessing from God. Our intelligence, wisdom, good sense, discipline that bring us our successes are all blessings from God. Also, not to forget, these great personal attributes can never lead to success if God has not blessed our quest and our journey along the way. To attribute all our successes to our own doing, totalling discounting God’s blessings, is the sin of pride. Also, as we elevate ourselves to be the source of all our successes, we are in effect regarding ourselves as our own God – we are in fact worshiping ourselves rather than God!
The Israelites were living a life of slavery in Egypt. God anointed Moses, who led them out of Egypt, and helped them passed dry-shod through the Red Sea. In spite of that, the people soon forgot God’s blessing, complaining to Moses about hunger and thirst. The First Reading recalls how God responded, by sustaining the people with manna from heaven (verse 3) and water from flint rock (verse 15) as they wondered through the desert. To help us learn humility and draw closer to Him, God sometimes removes his material providence to us – not as a punishment – but to help us rekindle our hunger for His spiritual providence. Explaining this, the First Reading has this to say to us: “He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (verse 3).
Often, when the Lord exercises such “tough love” on us, we do not appreciate it. Instead, like the Israelites in the desert, we complain bitterly. This is what pride does to us. When things go well, we discount God and take all the credits. When misfortunes struck, we blame God, as if it is never our fault. Such is the nature of the sin of greed. “You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:2-3) Is I that St James was referring to? This is the great irony that is the suffering and death of Christ. We who are sinners are unable to acknowledge our sins; yet Christ, the one who is truly sinless, took upon our sins, suffered and died on the cross.
God is never outdone in generosity. In spite of the people’s ungratefulness in the desert, God provided them with heavenly food and drink. In spite of our ungratefulness in the desert of our lives, God continue to bless us, with our careers, our families and our health. But like the Israelites in the desert, we continue to be ungrateful. Then, God went further. Beyond physical food and drink, God gifts us with Himself – His Body and Blood – as our heavenly food and drink: “While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” (My 26:26-28) When we eat of His Body and Blood, we are not just drawn closer to Him, but become one with Him. In the Gospel this week, our Lord explains this, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” (verse 56) When we are one with Him, we no longer live a separate life from Him. It is beyond me striving for good things in my life and asking Him to bless me. Instead, the goals of my life are also His goals. As St Paul said, “it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). Is the goals of my life align with Christ’s? If not, how can my life better reflect the life of Christ? This is our Eucharistic calling.
By His Body and Blood, not only do we become one with Christ, we become one with each other, as one body of Chirst. The Second Reading of this week explains it well: “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” (Verse 16-17) If we all live lives true to our Eucharistic calling, then there is no longer any differentiation between Christ, you or me. As we reflect on the Scripture this week, may the Lord gift us with humility, contentment and most importantly, Himself. May the Lord live in you, my dear brothers and sisters.