Meet Jesus in his Real Presence in the Eucharist

Homily for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi Year A

by Fr. Tommy Lane

We all want to meet Jesus. We want to have a closer friendship with Jesus. We want to have more of Jesus in our lives. We have to come to the right place, to the Eucharist. The best place to meet Jesus is in the Eucharist. If you want to be intimate with Jesus he tells us how,

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. (John 6:56)

Our most intimate moment with Jesus is when we receive Jesus in Holy Communion. We receive Jesus into our very bodies. We could not be closer with Jesus. We are one.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. (John 6:56)

It reminds me of what we read in Genesis about man and woman becoming one in marriage; when we receive Jesus in Holy Communion we are no longer two but one and we and Jesus are intimately united.

Jesus gave himself for you on Calvary and gives himself for you again in Holy Communion. In today’s Gospel we heard Jesus say,

the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. (John 6:51)

This is really the same as what Jesus will say later during the Last Supper,

This is my body, which will be given for you (Luke 22:19).

In today’s passage Jesus says,

the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. (John 6:51)

and during the Last Supper Jesus will say,

This is my body, which will be given for you (Luke 22:19).

Jesus gave up his body for you on Calvary and gives up his body for you in every Mass so that you may receive him in Holy Communion. It is the one sacrifice on Calvary extended through time to us at Mass. Some misunderstand and think Catholics say Jesus is sacrificed again during every Mass. No, it is the one sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary which is extended through time to us in every Mass and so truly Jesus can say to you,

the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. (John 6:51)
This is my body, which will be given for you (Luke 22:19).

so you and Jesus can enjoy intimacy together,

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. (John 6:56)

In the Gospel passage today Jesus is really explaining what takes place during the Last Supper and every Mass.  It is another take on the Last Supper, looking at the Last Supper from another angle so that we get a fuller understanding.

But are we going too far in saying that bread really becomes the Body of Jesus? Did Jesus intend us to understand that he was speaking only in symbols and metaphors and that we should not take him literally? Or did Jesus really intend us to understand that bread becomes the Body of Jesus and wine becomes the Blood of Jesus, that transubstantiation takes place during the consecration at Mass?

  • Those who were listening to Jesus knew he was not talking in symbols; they started arguing afterwards about what he had just said,

    “The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?” (John 6:52)

    It was clear to them that Jesus was talking about his flesh as bread and it would become clear for his listeners later that he really did mean that the bread of the Eucharist becomes his flesh. Why was there no room for confusion?

  • We have no idea how horrifying it would have been for Jesus’ Jewish listeners to hear him talking of consuming blood. Many times the Old Testament forbade consuming blood (Lev 3:17; 7:26; 19:26) because life was in the blood (Lev 17:14). In fact if someone consumed blood he was to be excommunicated from the Jewish people (Lev 17:10,14). For Jesus’ listeners to hear him talking of consuming blood it would have been so horrifying that they could not make the mistake of thinking that he was talking only in symbols. Jesus is leading his listeners from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. In the Old Covenant the supreme dwelling place of God on earth was in the temple in Jerusalem, but in the New Covenant God is with us in Jesus anytime we celebrate the Eucharist and Jesus gives himself to us in the bread and wine changed into his Body and Blood during Mass. In the Old Covenant God fed his people with manna when they were wandering in the desert as we heard in our first reading (Deut 8) but in the New Covenant Jesus feeds us with his own Body and Blood through his Real Presence in the Eucharist.

  • When we read what Jesus said in the original language of the Gospel, Greek, we see that what Jesus said was very strong. In the original language Jesus didn’t just say “eat my flesh” (φαγειν) but something much stronger like “chew on my flesh” or “gnaw on my flesh” or “crunch my flesh with your teeth.” (τρώγειν) So in the original language of the Gospel the last line of today’s passage reads something like this, your ancestors ate (ἔφαγον) the bread that came down from heaven and died but whoever gnaws and crunches (τρώγων) on this bread will live forever. So reading the Gospel in its original language leaves no room for confusion, Jesus really did intend us to understand that the bread of the Eucharist is his flesh. Jesus really is present in the Eucharist, the Eucharist is the Real Presence of Jesus.

Because our faith is weak from time to time God sends us miracles to remind us that the Eucharist really is food and drink for our souls. In the history of the Church a small number of people were given the grace to survive only on the Eucharist, eating no food except the Eucharist. Blessed Alexandrina of Portugal lived only on the Eucharist during the last thirteen years of her life. Marthe Robin in south eastern France did not consume anything except the Eucharist from 1928 until her death in 1981. (Marthe Robin: The Cross and the Joy) There are some others who also received this grace but these two are special for me because I have visited their homes and prayed at their graves. And I also know a lady living at this time who grew up in Ireland but now resides in the UK who lives on the Eucharist alone. I met her and have been extremely impressed by her.

We all want to meet Jesus. We want to have a closer friendship with Jesus. We want to have more of Jesus in our lives. We have to come to the right place, to the Eucharist. The best place to meet Jesus is in the Eucharist. Each time before we receive Jesus in the Eucharist we want to be as pure as possible. If you want to be intimate with Jesus he tells us how,

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. (John 6:56)

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2008

This homily was delivered in a parish in the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

More Homilies for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi Year A

Related Homilies: John Chapter 6 - Jesus’ Sermon on the Eucharist 2011

Faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and Eucharistic Miracles

The Eucharist and St John Bosco

Jesus is the center of time, BC- AD; is Jesus in the Eucharist the center of your life? (Year C) 2007

Eucharist - let Jesus feast with you

Healed Through the Mass

Alexandrina lived only on Jesus in the Eucharist for thirteen years

On Pope John Paul II’s Letter on the Eucharist, Ecclesia de Eucharistia

The Eucharist and the Priesthood were born during the Last Supper

The Eucharist: Jesus living in us and we in Jesus - Little Nellie of Holy God

Stories about the Eucharist