June 18, 2017: Solemnity of Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)
This is My Body
A Reflection by Fr. Peter John Cameron O.P.
There was a heart-wrenching story in a magazine a few years ago about a baby boy born with a rare genetic disorder that left him with severe deformities; among them, the boy had only one eye. The boy’s name was Max. Many people thought the child too frightful to look upon—he should be put away in an institution. His wise mother refused. She saw something exceptional in her son because of the abnormalities of his body. She intuited what the Catechism teaches: In creating human beings “God... impressed his own form on the flesh he…fashioned, in such a way that even what was visible might bear the divine form” (CCC, 704). As the mother put it, “[Max] changes everyone who meets him. He changes their ideas about beauty, about worth. He has made every member of our family…grow up and change their life view in some essential way.”6 This miracle is the result of Max in his own way living out the Lord’s words: “This is my Body.” The exceptionality of Max’s body moves those who encounter him to make a judgment about how they look at all of life. In this respect, Max’s presence in the world is “Eucharistic.”
When Christ told the crowds, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will not have life within you” (see John 6:53), many people were repulsed at the notion. But for the Lord’s true disciples, this summons moved them to look even more closely at Christ’s body—to regard it with new eyes and to ascertain its meaning in a more open way—and thereby to see beyond what may have initially repulsed them. They glimpsed the exceptionality of Jesus Christ (an exceptionality conveyed by his body), and they therefore stayed with him.
As the Catechism expresses it, “the individual characteristics of Christ’s body express the divine person of God’s Son” (CCC, 477). Saint Thomas Aquinas says that Christ promised to reward his friends with his bodily presence. Even during our pilgrimage he does not absent himself, but through his veritable Body and Blood joins us to himself. We need to hear Christ challenge us with the words “This is my Body” every day of our lives so that our lives may be given new and truer horizons. The exceptionality of the Eucharistic Body of Christ changes our ideas about beauty, about worth. It enables us to grow up and change how we view our lives in every essential way.
- What is the standard I use to look at life and make judgments?
- What about the gospel do I find scandalous or “too much” for me?
- How has staying with Jesus, despite the pressures put on me by the world, changed my life for the better?
Loving Father, in clinging to the Body of your Son we have life, and in communion with his Body we reach the very heart of God. Make me attentive to the exceptionality of the Body of Christ and change my life so that it becomes a true image of his.
- By Fr. Peter John Cameron O.P., "Jesus, Present Before Me: Meditations for Eucharistic Adoration"