“I Am the Bread of Life”
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Corpus Christi – the Body and Blood of Our Lord – the Holy Eucharist. After the 11am Mass today, we will have a short Corpus Christi Procession to worship and honour Our Lord’s Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. But sometimes, we get so used to the Eucharist, we can forget what an amazing work of God it is.
There are two miracles involved in this sacrament at every Mass. The first is that at the words of Consecration, the substance of the bread and wine are changed into the substance of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Church calls this “Transubstantiation.” The second miracle is that although after the Consecration the substance of the bread and wine are changed, they still look like bread and wine. But Our Lord is truly present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. This is why we worship and adore the Holy Eucharist, why we genuflect as we pass the tabernacle and why the red lamp burns constantly by it. It is no mere symbol.
Every now and again, God works a miracle to remind us of this and to help increase our faith. I think the most famous, which I have also seen personally, would be that which took place in Lanciano, Italy in the 8th Century. A monk who doubted the truth of Our Lord’s Real Presence, one day when saying Mass, saw the host miraculously changed into Flesh and the wine into Blood. The monk was awestruck. Weeping joyously, he regained his composure and called the congregation around the altar and they all marvelled, and the word spread quickly. This is an ongoing miracle since It is still preserved today. Modern scientific experiments show, among other things, that the Flesh is real Flesh, the Blood is real Blood. The Flesh and the Blood belong to the human species and the Flesh consists of the muscular tissue of the heart. The Flesh and the Blood have the same blood-type: AB (identical to that on the Holy Shroud of Turin). The preservation of the Flesh and of the Blood, which were left in their natural state for twelve centuries and exposed to the action of atmospheric and biological agents, remains an extraordinary phenomenon.
The beauty of this miracle reflects Our Lord’s own words; “I am the Bread of Life. He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has life eternal and I shall raise him up on the last day. For My Flesh is real food and My Blood real drink. The man who feeds on My Flesh and drinks My Blood remains in Me, and I in him” (John 6:35, 54-56). Let us never forget that at every Mass we witness a miracle, and that by the reception of Holy Communion we share in Our Lord’s Divine Life.
Fr Paul Gillham IC