One of the few Australian TV programs that I follow is “Man Vs Wild”. This program is hosted by an ex military man Bear Ghryllis. He would go for an adventure into different parts of the world, climbing up mountains and cliffs, swimming across dangerous rivers, crossing deserts, climbing down dark caves and tunnels, etc. But no matter where he goes, he always follows one principle, i.e. how to survive through those difficult and challenging places. Living out this principle, the first thing he does is to look for food and water, as he goes along to find his way out to a safer place. In a process, he would look for anything edible, and look for anything that might contain water, such as coconuts and bamboo trunks. This just goes to show, food and water are necessary for a person to survive and to live.
Friends, God knows that we need food and water to live. So he provides us with food and drink everyday. Our First Reading today tells us, God provided ‘manna’[ to the Israelites in the desert when they complained for food. The word “manna” possibly comes from the Aramaic man hu, which means ‘what is this?’ which expresses the wonder of the discovery that God’s love and providential care kept is chosen people alive on this substance. Manna was a sticky sweet resin exuded by trees like the tamarisk which on hardening, could be eaten. And when they complained about water, God provided them with water from the rock. But the manna and the water that the Israelites ate and drank did not assure them of eternal life. ‘They are dead’ as Jesus tells the Jews in our gospel today. However, Jesus did not say this to be cynical to the ancestors of the Jews, but to make them realize that in him, eternal life is offered and assured, as long as they eat his body and drink his blood. This self-proclamation of Jesus seems to have created a hiccup for the Jews. They asked ‘how can he give his flesh to be eaten?”
Our celebration today offers us an answer to this question. Jesus gives his very life to give us life. Through the Holy Spirit, Christ becomes truly present in the Eucharistic species. In the Consecration, the earthly species [i.e. bread and wine] are transformed substantially into a real body and blood of Jesus to become our spiritual food and drink-the special gift from God to us. This is how he gives his flesh for us to be eaten, and this is how he gives out his blood for us to drink. This is how he wants us to enjoy eternal life with him.
When we take communion then we not only receive this to survive or to live but we also welcome and accept God’s offer of eternal life. This Eucharist makes us one, in the body of Christ. This unity then sustains and strengthens us to go on in our mission of promoting the cause of God, the cause of peace, justice, and unity.
Because of this Eucharist and because of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, more especially in the Eucharistic species, the church survives over the centuries amidst the challenges, difficulties, problems, scandals, etc. The Eucharist has been and will continue to be the lifeline of the Church. And being member of this body of Christ, we are enjoying this very life as well. Because of the ever-continuing presence of Jesus, the Church survives and lives on. Let us therefore, not lose sight of him. For in Him, eternal life is sure and imminent. If we have not welcome Jesus yet in our lives, let’s pray he’d come and dwell in us, to guide and sustain us, and to give us life.
So as we continue to celebrate our solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, let us thank God for this great and special gift of the Eucharist, a gift that assured us not only to survive and to live but also of everlasting life. Let us make this solemnity then resolution to be more active in our participation in every celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Amen.