One morning in Lanciano, Italy, a monk celebrated the Holy Mass but was in a struggle as he was not fully convinced about the real and substantial presence of the Flesh and Blood of Jesus in the Consecrated Holy Species. At consecration, as he held the Holy Host and Cup, his body started to shake. The Holy Host turned into a real piece of Flesh and the Wine into Blood that coagulated as real blood does.
The then-doubtful monk sighed in divine ecstasy upon the miracle that just transpired: “O fortunate witnesses to whom the Blessed God, to confound my unbelief, has wished to reveal Himself in the Most Blessed Sacrament and to render Himself visible to our eyes. Come Brethren, and marvel at our God so close to us. Behold the Flesh and the Blood of our Most Beloved Christ.”
Ecclesiastical investigations were conducted since 1574, and various scientific results proved the authenticity of the Flesh and Blood to belong to the human species. Despite the age of the Blood – over 1,250 years – its physical and chemical properties remain the same even without the presence of any preservatives.
The first Sunday following the feast of the Holy Trinity is the Solemnity of Corpus Christi (Body of Christ). It is the significant time of the year when we are reminded of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, at the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano is a testimony that, even at this age, Christ Jesus manifests the realness of His presence in the Holy Mass. It is the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood that Christ becomes present in the sacrament (CCC 1375). In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist, the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained (Council of Trent 1551).
This mystery is another revelation that God is love because through the power of His Word and the Holy Spirit, Christ becomes present in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. This Love transforms all things into something life-giving, something that nourishes, quenches and sustains. Through the Eucharist, we are provided with the “ingredients” to get through the challenges no matter what circumstance we are in. We are equipped to face the battles in the world for, as Pope Benedict XVI puts it, the journey towards freedom, justice and peace is long and tiring; hence the need of this Bread.
However, how exactly are we given life, nourished, quenched and sustained by the Body and Blood of Christ? How does love transform all things?
The readings this Sunday give us a picture of how love can transform all things. As in the book of Genesis, Melchizedek was given a portion of Abram’s possessions as the former recognized the power of God in blessing the latter with bread and wine (for nourishment). Melchizedek was the king and high priest of Salem. Like Jesus, Melchizedek in the Old Testament called on God and was provided with abundant blessings through Abram.
In the letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, Jesus offered His body and blood as a covenant of God’s love for man. The Son of God came down from heaven to be one like us, human, but sinless. However, He ‘broke Himself’ to save us from sin. He made Himself available for those who remember Him, and now He asks us to receive Him in the Eucharist.
In the gospel of Luke, Jesus looked up to heaven, sought God’s provision, and the miracle of the multiplication of loaves took place. The five loaves and two fish were able to feed the multitude of crowds by the power of the Word, and by the disciples’ response to Jesus’ instructions. Jesus teaches us to act upon a call to be able to overcome what seems to be impossible.
In other words, we do not need supernatural powers for miracles to happen. We can transform things in our human ways through love. We can turn a heart as cold and hard as stone through love. We can heal broken relationships through love. We can do all things through Christ (Phil 4:13). As has been revealed in the readings, transformation can take place when we:
As part of the celebration of the Solemnity of the Body of Christ, may we truly contemplate on the “realness” of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist and realize how this truth has transformed us.
Dear Jesus, I give You all the praise and glory! Truly, You are the Risen Lord, the Living Christ who never left us. Thank you for Your selfless sacrifice of breaking your Holy Body to heal our own brokenness, to nourish our hunger for truth, peace and hope. As I unworthily receive you in the Eucharist, I know that it is not I that consumes the host, but it is You who consumes me. Use me, Lord Jesus, to share Your love to the world that has gone cold and indifferent. Amen.