The Feast of Self-Gift

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Corpus Christi – the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. I should specify “the Catholic Church in the United States,” since the actual day of the feast is the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, but the celebration has been transferred to the Sunday following Trinity Sunday in the United States.

Descriptions of the feast of Corpus Christi describe it as a feast that commemorates the institution of the Eucharist, and it does that. But the danger in using only those words is that we focus only on Jesus act and not on what that act demands of us in return.

The Eucharist represents Jesus’ complete self-gift to us. He gave everything – his body and his blood, his whole person – during his life and by his death.

Each time the Eucharist is consecrated at Mass, we hear the words Jesus said to his disciples at the Last Supper. This is my body. This is my blood. Do this in memory of me.

The last is clearly not intended as an afterthought. Rather “Do this in memory of me” calls us to make the same self-gift Jesus made for our sake.

The question this feast of Jesus’ gift of self invites us to ask ourselves, in the words of Sr. Barbara Reid, O.P., I once read is: “How do we replicate the giving of our whole selves, body, mind and spirit, to the one who is the source of all nourishment so that we may be broken open in love for the life of the world?”

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