The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
June 6, 2021 — Year B
Readings: Ex 24:3-8 / Ps 116 / Heb 9:11-15 / Mk 14:12-16, 22-26
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
Yesterday, one of the headlines was about Cathy Boone, a 49-year-old homeless woman in Oregon. She died last January with nothing. She was homeless, no family, no friends. But they discovered after her death that she actually had inherited close to $900,000 from her mother. The state had tried to get in touch with her. Somehow she was estranged from the family when her mother died, and she just lost it. Her life had been spiraling downward. So she died penniless and homeless, and yet she had actually inherited almost a million dollars.
Today we are celebrating the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ: the Holy Eucharist. This is what we heard in today’s second reading, which is taken from the letter to the Hebrews:
“For this reason the Lord Jesus is mediator of a new covenant:
since a death has taken place for deliverance,
those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.”
Our eternal inheritance is worth more than a million dollars; not just the $900,000 that Cathy Boone inherited. But the sad thing is that a few years ago, according to Pew Research, the vast majority of our brothers and sisters in the Catholic faith said that they believed that the Eucharist is just a symbol. This is our inheritance. This is the true body, blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. And they miss it.
Flannery O’Connor, a famous Catholic author, was asked whether she believed in the real presence of Jesus: “Do you really believe that Jesus, your Savior and Lord is there in that small bread? Is that really His presence, or is it just a symbol of His presence?” Flannery O’Connor replied, “Well, if it’s just a symbol, the heck with it. I don’t need to go there. I’d just rather read books, and the Bible, and pray. But I believe that that host is not an ordinary bread.”
About ninety years ago, a 16-year-old girl in Brazil fell out of a tree. This accident made her a paraplegic. From then on, her body also completely changed. She no longer felt hungry, thirsty, or sleepy. No medical remedy was effective. Her only nourishment was one consecrated host when she received Holy Communion. Now how long did the consecrated host sustain her life? – a few days? A few months? A year? With only the consecrated host, she lived for sixty years. No food, no water. Her name was Floripes de Jesús, and in Brazil, everybody called her “Lola.” Because of her faith in God and her holiness, thousands of pilgrims went to visit her.
The bishop of the diocese became concerned because of all the visitors, and said, “Lola also needs some time for herself to talk to Jesus.” He said, “Lola, from now on just be with the Lord, talk to Him, maybe talk to members of your family…and to Jesus who is in the room with you, because the bishop allowed the Blessed Sacrament to be exposed in her bedroom. There was also a priest there with the bishop’s permission to celebrate Mass every week for Lola. She was able to live that life for sixty years. Just a few years ago, she was elevated to Servant of Christ, which means she is now in the process of canonization.
Around eleven years before Lola was born in Brazil, Marthe Robin was born in Châteauneuf-de-Galaure, France. At the age of 2, Martha had a severe illness and at the age of 28, she was completely paralyzed. But her faith in God, her devotion to the Blessed Mother, St. Theresa, and all the saints was as strong as ever. Her ailment never affected her faith. And yet, from the age of 28, she could no longer eat nor drink because of her ailment. When they tried to help her to drink a little water, the water just came out of her nostrils, so it was not possible for her to eat nor drink. Her only sustenance was the consecrated host, the Holy Eucharist. And this would be her life for how many days? — 1 week? 3 weeks? Even 12 months? This would be her life for 51 years. 51 years! — no food, no water; just the consecrated host; just the real person of Jesus in the Eucharist. In November 2014 Pope Francis declared Marthe Robin “venerable,” just one step away from sainthood.
Now, these are just two examples. We have many more, of miracles all over the world, telling us that this consecrated host, present in every Catholic church all over the world, is the real presence of Jesus.
Carlo Acutis documented hundreds of Eucharistic miracles all over the world. This 15-year-old boy is also just one step away from sainthood. He lived his life contemplating, meditating on the mystery of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. He says the more Eucharist we receive, the more we become like Jesus, so that on earth we will have a foretaste of heaven.