Sunday reflection by Very Reverend Stephen E. Salocks, Rector of Saint John's Seminary - June 14, 2020
“Jesus said to the Jewish crowds: ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.’” (Jn 6:51)
On this Sunday, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), we come, once again, to celebrate the true, real, and substantial presence of our Lord Jesus Christ – body and blood, soul and divinity – in the Eucharist (cf. CCC, no. 1374). While this foundational dogma of our faith is so crucial to who we are as Catholic Christians, we know today that many who attend Mass struggle to understand and a significant number do not even believe that our Lord is truly present.
Down through the centuries, numerous Eucharist miracles have taken place, saints have given their lives in witness to this principle, and ordinary men and women of faith have expressed their faith in Christ’s real presence by genuflecting or bowing deeply in adoration of our Lord at Mass, before the Blessed Sacrament, and in processions.
The most significant witness, however, comes from the Lord in today’s passage from the Gospel of John. Even in Jesus’ day, this was a challenging teaching, and several verses after today’s Gospel passage, many of his disciples left Jesus due to this hard saying. Our Lord did not compromise to retain followers or suggest that his words were merely ‘symbolic.’ Jesus reaffirms this teaching to the followers who remain, and it has been a teaching that has drawn so many more to follow Him. Christ’s sacramental presence in our midst continues as a memorial of the love with which he gave himself up for us and our salvation. What other assurance do we need as followers of the one true God than that which comes directly from His Son.
Here in Boston, we begin the Year of the Eucharist. Cardinal O’Malley has reminded us, “As Catholics, it is in the Eucharist that we learn our identity… We discover who we are, why we are here, and what is our mission as disciples in Christ…. If we center ourselves in the Real Presence of Jesus, in His friendship, then everything else will make sense.” I would encourage you this Corpus Christi Sunday, especially since we cannot participate in the normal Eucharistic processions, to simply reflect on this divine mystery. As churches across the country continue to reopen and the faithful can once again participate in this awesome and supernatural gift, let us never take for granted the great gift of the Eucharist.
In closing, I want to recognize and celebrate those seminarians who have been or are about to be ordained priests. It has been my privilege to watch these men develop during formation, and I am confident they will all be outstanding priests. Please honor and pray for the following men: Fathers Ryan Amazeen, Joshua Livingston, Hiep Nguyen, Steven Booth, and Joseph Martuscello – all of whom have been ordained in the past two weeks. Also, Matthew Barone, Stanislaus Achu, Valentine Nworah, Joseph Hubbard, Alexander Boucher, Matthew Norwood, and Daniel Zinger – all of whom will be ordained in the coming weeks. Congratulations and God’s blessings to all.