11 June 2023 – Sunday – Corpus Christi, Year A

11 June 2023 – Sunday – Corpus Christi, Year A

1st Reading: Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16

He gave you food which you and your ancestors did not know

Moses said to the people: ‘Remember how the Lord your God led you for forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, to test you and know your inmost heart — whether you would keep his commandments or not. He humbled you, he made you feel hunger, he fed you with manna which neither you nor your fathers had known, to make you understand that man does not live on bread alone but that man lives on everything that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

‘Do not then forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery: who guided you through this vast and dreadful wilderness, a land of fiery serpents, scorpions, thirst; who in this waterless place brought you water from the hardest rock; who in this wilderness fed you with manna that your fathers had not known.’

Responsorial: Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20

R./: Praise the Lord, Jerusalem

O praise the Lord, Jerusalem!
Zion, praise your God!
He has strengthened the bars of your gates,
he has blessed the children within you. (R./)

He established peace on your borders,
he feeds you with finest wheat.
He sends out his word to the earth
and swiftly runs his command. (R./)

He makes his word known to Jacob,
to Israel his laws and decrees.
He has not dealt thus with other nations;
he has not taught them his decrees. (R./)

2nd Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:16-17

A reading from the first letter of St Paul to the Corinthians

Though we are many, we form a single body because we share this one loaf.
The blessing-cup that we bless is a communion with the blood of Christ, and the bread that we break is a communion with the body of Christ. The fact that there is only one loaf means that, though there are many of us, we form a single body because we all have a share in this one loaf.

Gospel: John 6:51-58

My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink

‘I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;
and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.’

Then the Jews started arguing with one another: ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ they said. Jesus replied:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man
and drink his blood,
you will not have life in you.
Anyone who does eat my flesh
and drink my blood has eternal life,
and I shall raise him up on the last day.
For my flesh is real food
and my blood is real drink.
He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood
lives in me and I live in him.
As I, who am sent by the living Father,
myself draw life from the Father,
so whoever eats me will draw life from me.
This is the bread come down from heaven;
not like the bread our ancestors ate:
they are dead,
but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.’


The table of fellowship

Sitting together for a meal can generate a special feeling of togetherness. Each of us will have our own memories of table companionship or fellowship. Many of these will be happy experiences of celebration and laughter, of love received and shared. Some memories of table fellowship may be sad, times when we were more aware of one who was absent than of those who were present. Jesus shared table many times with his disciples. It is likely that, when sharing food with his disciples, he also shared with them his vision of God’s kingdom . At table, the disciples imbibed something of Jesus’ mind and heart and spirit. Of all the meals he shared with them, the meal that stayed in their memory more than any other was their last meal together, what came to be known as the last supper. Today’s gospel gives us Mark’s account, his word-picture, of that last supper.

This last meal Jesus shared with his disciples stood out in their memory, capturing the imagination of generations of disciples right up to ourselves. He did more than share his vision with the disciples; he gave them himself in a way he had never done before, and in a way that anticipated the death he would die for them and for all, on the following day. In giving himself in the form of the bread and wine of the meal, he was declaring himself to be their food and drink. In calling on them to take and eat, to take and drink, he was asking them to take their stand with him, to give themselves to him as he was giving himself to them.

It was because of that supper and of what went on there that we are here in this church today. Jesus intended his last supper to be a beginning rather than an end. It was the first Eucharist. Ever since that meal, the church has gathered regularly in his name, to do and say what he did and said at that last supper — taking bread and wine, blessing both, breaking the bread and giving both for disciples to eat and drink.

Jesus continues to give himself as food and drink to his followers. He also continues to put it up to his followers to take their stand with him, to take in all he stands for, living by his values, walking in his way, even if that means the cross. Whenever we come to Mass and receive the Eucharist, we are making a number of important statements. We are acknowledging Jesus as our bread of life, as the one who alone can satisfy our deepest hungers. We are also declaring that we will throw in our lot with him, as it were, that we will follow in his way and be faithful to him all our lives, in response to his faithfulness to us. In that sense, celebrating the Eucharist is not something we do lightly. Our familiarity with the Mass and the frequency with which we celebrate it can dull our senses to the full significance of what we are doing. Every time we gather for the Eucharist, we find ourselves once more in that upper room with the first disciples, and the last supper with all it signified is present again to us.



  1. Thara Benedicta says:

    Key Message:
    Are you spiritually hungry? Lord Jesus is our best food.

    History says Pontius Pilate lost his job after the crucifixion and death of our Lord Jesus. He was never happy after that. He went to Switzerland and he used to sit at the foot of the snow covered mountains and cry, “Won’t this pure droplets of snow cleanse away my sin?” Since then people named that mountain as “Mount Pilatus”. He died without peace, and in fear because he did not receive forgiveness of his sins. But because we believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, we do not have the fear of dying without receiving forgiveness for our sins. 1 John 1:7 says “The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ cleanses us from all our sins”.

    Revelation 5:6 says “…stood a Lamb as it had been slain”. So in Heaven also our Lord also looks like a Lamb as it had been slain. His wounds are still fresh just for us. Our Lord Jesus said, “… the bread that I shall give is my flesh” in today’s Gospel reading. So His wounds are still fresh, and we are eating His flesh in every Mass. It is His real flesh that we are consuming during our Communion.

    Like how our Lord Jesus became bread for us, we should also become bread for others. Our Lord Jesus said, “unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds”. So we should be the bread for others. But to become bread for others, we should try to remain pure. The purer we are, the more powerful our bread becomes. For example in the Autobiography of Little Thérèse of Child Jesus, Little Thérèse says she has not committed sin till the age of 3. Until the age of 3, we do not know how to commit a sin. So she was always pure. Our Lord Jesus chose her to make sacrifices and with her little little sacrifices saved countless souls. The sacrifices were even like drinking bitter medicine slowly so that she was able to taste the bitterness for more time. It has the redeeming power to save souls. Let us make use of every opportunity to save souls. If you are a parent tolerating a teenager, offer all your sufferings to save all the teenagers of the world. You will be able to understand the pain and pray for all other parents suffering like you. Likewise if you are sick, or unemployed or undergoing any kind of suffering, offer it along with the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ to our Almighty Father. With the Blood of His Son He will wash away all our sins and answer our prayers.

    The most cruel form of death is death by crucifixion on the cross. If a person’s hands are tied vertically up, then death is faster. But if it tied like how our Lord Jesus’s hands were tied, it is a slow and more painful death. For our cause, He chose the most painful death. No fear was big enough to stop Him from going to take up the cross. Because His love was deeper than fear. His eyes were stricken for the sins we commit with our eyes, His hands were nailed for the sins we commit with our hands, His back was scourged for our immoral sins, His head was thorned because most of our sins are thought sins… Likewise no part of His body was left. He gave us all of His entire body to redeem us from sins.

    Now all of us who are redeemed by His Body and Blood became members of the same body of our Lord Jesus Christ. In today’s second reading we read, we are all individual members but form part of the same body of our Lord Jesus Christ. So though we are members of the same Body our calling is different. Our capabilities also depend on our calling. We can be called to be His eyes, His hands and so on. Whichever part we are, we need to serve as that part of the body of our Lord Jesus Christ. A pious mother once testified about her son who was not on the right path, “This son of mine is my crown of thorns”. She actually suffered a lot because of her son like Saint Monica. She used to offer all the Masses for her son, always praying for him, sacrificing and so on and on… And later, her son came on the proper path and is leading a good family life. This mother was part of the head of the Lord Jesus, which she realised. Her life was a success. Likewise all of us will have different calling, which we need to fulfil.

    The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ also gives us nourishment for our lives. In the first reading we read our God moulds the Israelites – “He humbled you, he made you feel hunger, he fed you with manna which neither you nor your fathers had known, to make you understand that man does not live on bread alone but that man lives on everything that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

    “.. that man lives on everything that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” – Our Lord Jesus was the Word of God. He was the Word that proceeded from the mouth of God. That is why when the Word became flesh, He said, “Eat me and live”. So God our Father has been teaching the Israelites also to live on His Word, and our Lord Jesus also teaches us the same in today’s Gospel.

    The Israelites came out of Egypt with a big victory. They were all singing victorious songs. But when they reached the wilderness, they suffered from lack of food. They started complaining for want of food in Egypt. Though they knew that Almighty God was taking care of them, when they suffered lack, they still complained. They forgot that when their Egyptian neighbour was suffering with frogs, they were sleeping happily. They forgot that Almighty God submerged the Egyptian chariots submerged in the sea, while they came out of the Red Sea happily. By making them go through the wilderness, the Almighty Father teaches to go through the wilderness of our lives trusting in the Heavenly Mannah. They started from Egypt happily, they ended in Canaan joyfully. In between for their wilderness path they required the nourishment to sustain, which is Mannah. So when we are humbled, our Heavenly Mannah helps us to sustain

    Focus on Jesus. He will give all that is required.

  2. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    Joe Humphreys writes a piece on philosophy each Thursday in the Irish Times. It goes under the title Unthinkable.
    His piece on 8 June ponders the Census 2022 results on the religious makeup of our population. Among many other things, he writes: “An Irish Times/MRBI poll a decade ago found only a quarter of Irish Catholics believed in transubstantiation – the idea that the Eucharist is not a symbol but actually the body of Christ. Would you find a quarter today who could explain transubstantiation, let alone believe in it?”
    Mysterious indeed. To answer his question: definitely No. We would find not one person who could explain it. In our Eucharistic Prayer at Mass we proclaim “The Mystery of Faith.” This does not mean, however, that nothing can be said about the Eucharist. We need to think outside the box.
    As a partial answer to Joe’s “Unthinkable” question, St Augustine about 405AD pondered it:
    “If you wish to understand the body of Christ, listen to the Apostle as he says to the faithful, ‘You are the body of Christ and His members.’ (1 Cor 12:27) If therefore, you are the body of Christ and His members, your mystery has been placed on the Lord’s table, you receive your mystery… You hear, ‘The Body of Christ,’ and you reply, ‘Amen.’ Be a member of the body of Christ so that your ‘Amen’ may be true… Let us listen to the Apostle who said, ‘We though many, are one bread, one body.’”
    This is what Communion is. Not something we receive, but a relationship into which we are drawn. A relationship not only with Jesus Christ, but with one another. Paul in the short second reading uses the word “communion” (koinonia) twice. He uses the expression “one loaf” twice, so that we, though many, are one Body as we share in the one loaf.
    This is not just some intangible, spiritual idea. We see how it affected our history. In Penal times in Ireland, we were subject to the “Test Acts” (1661, 1673, 1678), legislation to exclude Catholics from any public office. Only those taking communion in the established Church of England were eligible for public employment. To qualify, they would have to renounce the Catholic church and transubstantiation. Lest anyone would do this, and yet continue to live as a Catholic, a person was required to attend the Sunday services of the Church of England, and to receive Communion there: such action would itself would be a renunciation of the Catholic church. Taking part in Communion with the Church of England had very clear significance and effect in law and in life.
    These Test Acts were repealed gradually in 1780, 1828, 1829 and 1867. Religious tests for officers of the University of Dublin (Trinity College) were repealed by the Tests Act 1873. Despite the legal change, the significance of taking Communion in the Church of England lingered for Catholics.
    May the day come quickly when the two churches will agree that, whatever our differences, they are not sufficient to justify us remaining apart, and we will be in communion and will share communion in the Eucharist, we who are members of the One Body of Christ.
    Theologian Godfrey Diekmann (died 2002): “What difference does it make if the bread and wine turn into the Body and Blood of Christ and we don’t?”
    The ultimate challenge is not whether or how bread and wine are transformed, but whether Christians are transformed into the Body of Christ, the Real Presence of Christ in our world today. A work in progress, most certainly not complete.
    It is for the future, yes; but it is also for now. “Anyone who believes has eternal life … Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” John 6:47,54) Not will have; has.
    Come. Celebrate. Be the mystery, however Unthinkable it may seem.

  3. Paddy Ferry says:

    Pádraig, @2, it’s great to hear from you again. You’ve been missed. And, thank you for your reflection on the thorny question of transubstantiation.

    Of course, you’re right, nobody understands what we are supposed to believe. Have we ever heard someone try to explain it to us from the altar? I certainly haven’t.

    Canon 898 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law states that a pastor is ‘to explain the doctrine’ of the Eucharist with the greatest care. Some hope! And could you blame “pastors” for keeping well away from it?

    In fact, it is a topic that few will willingly even engage in conversation with you on as to what they understand it to be, even very well educated and learned Catholics. And, those who do acknowledge that they have tried to study transubstantiation will usually admit that they find it unbelievable.

    Does this mean there is a lack of ‘reception’ of the doctrine? It’s been on the go a long time. If so, that is a very serious thing for our church, given the importance we place on “reception”.

    While the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) is when transubstantiation defined the meaning of the Eucharist in Catholic dogma, the Council of Trent (1563) added eleven letters of excommunication to the formula of the doctrine. And, of course, excommunication was a big deal in those days. You’d have to say it was hardly a glowing show of confidence in the validity of the doctrine.

    As Tony Flannery mentions elsewhere on this site you had accept teachings under pain of sin and eternal damnation. One wrong word and you were in big trouble, e.g Jan Hus was executed for just that in 1415.

    Over here in Scotland inter-communion is a big issue. Tom O’Loughlin has referred to it as ‘an ulcer of division’. I quickly realised this when I first came to live in Scotland. It had never been a problem at home. Well, it wouldn’t be, would it.
    I thought our church’s position was wrong but, as I was uneducated in things theological, I didn’t say very much about it. I then spent twenty-eight years — too long — leading our Archdiocesan Ecumenical Core Group which evolved into the official Ecumenical Commission of our archdiocese and we studied all contemporary and historic documents that are relevant to our ecumenical journey. I found nothing that would dissuade me from my belief that our church was wrong in our position on not sharing our table with our Christian brothers and sisters from other Christian denominations.

    Now, having read Tom O’Loughlin’s wonderful book, “Eating Together, Becoming One” (ETBO) I am reassured beyond all doubt that my earlier, uneducated gut feeling was absolutely spot on.

    Of course, the big issue we cite to justify our position is the failure of our Christian sisters and brothers to fully understand the Real Presence in the Eucharist.

    If this is so important, Fr. Tom contends in “ETBO”, should we not also seek to confirm that Catholics who are receiving communion really understand it too.

    And, he mentions the need, if this is all really so important, of confirming the belief and understanding of the presbyter who presides over the consecration — his actual understanding of the substantia I think is how he puts it.

    Ever since I began reading to try and understand the Eucharist it was obvious that St. Augustine had a different take on its meaning than the official doctrine given to us by Thomas Aquinas. And theologians right through the first millennium continued to take the Augustinian line. St. Augustine was, it is said, the most influential theologian of the first millennium but obviously not influential enough to make his teaching on the Eucharist stick. And, of course, once the Aquinas doctrine became our official church teaching everything else was stamped on without mercy right through to Henri de Lubac and his book Corpus Mysticum in 1944.

    “This is what Communion is. Not something we receive, but a relationship into which we are drawn. A relationship not only with Jesus Christ, but with one another.”

    I was so pleased to read that in your piece above, Pádraig. That is what I have concluded during my amateur research to try an understand the Eucharist.

    What I missed most during lockdown, and the fact that all worship was suspended, was not meeting my friends at Mass and not having the craic over a cup of tea after Mass.

    So, I mentioned this to my PP and told him that I was more convinced than ever that Augustine had got it right, inspired by Paul in 1 Cor., when he said that we, who are gathered around the altar, are the holy communion and what happens on the altar is merely symbolic. I think I shocked him. He said that was a momentous statement and that he would have to think before he could answer me. That was two and a half years ago.

    I am so pleased, Pádraig, that someone of your learning and standing, and experience, can now feel free to write as you have done, on this topic, above on a public forum.

    One final thought. Of all the reasons for the continued demise of our Church — Francis’ Synod is almost certainly our last chance saloon — and we have spent years discussing them here and you and I, Pádraig, sometimes disagreeing — could the demand that we believe the unbelievable also be a major reason for our Church’s decline. The late, great Donagh O’Malley and that famous stroke of his ministerial pen has a lot to answer for.
    Thank you again, Pádraig and please keep writing.

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