My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink


The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ – June 14, 2020

First reading

Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16He fed you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known

MOSES said to the people: ‘Remember how the Lord your God led you for forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, to test you and know your inmost heart – whether you would keep his commandments or not. He humbled you, he made you feel hunger, he fed you with manna which neither you nor your fathers had known, to make you understand that man does not live on bread alone but that man lives on everything that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

    ‘Do not become proud of heart. Do not forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery: who guided you through this vast and dreadful wilderness, a land of fiery serpents, scorpions, thirst; who in this waterless place brought you water from the hardest rock; who in this wilderness fed you with manna that your fathers had not known.’

Second reading

1 Corinthians 10:16-17 – That there is only one loaf means that, though we are many, we form one body

THE blessing-cup that we bless is a communion with the blood of Christ, and the bread that we break is a communion with the body of Christ. The fact that there is only one loaf means that, though there are many of us, we form a single body because we all have a share in this one loaf.


John 6:51-58My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink

JESUS said to the crowd:

‘I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.

Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;

and the bread that I shall give is my flesh,

for the life of the world.’

Then the Jews started arguing with one another: ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ they said. Jesus replied:

‘I tell you most solemnly, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life in you.

Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day.

For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.

He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him.

As I, who am sent by the living Father, myself draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will draw life from me.

This is the bread come down from heaven; not like the bread our ancestors ate: they are dead, but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.’


BELOVED Brothers and Sisters, Blessed Corpus Christi!

Let me begin with a story I have shared many times.

When I was a young seminarian in 1971, I was posted to Tawau to be with Fr. John Lee the rector there while waiting to be sent to Rome for philosophy. On the Saturday morning when he was supposed to give the last instructions to the boys and girls receiving First Communion the next day, he was suddenly called out to attend to some urgent matter. He hurriedly told me that I was to take over the instructions at 9 a.m. but he would rush back to hear the First Confessions. I did not even have time to freeze. Too soon, I found myself in front of some 50 boys and girls gathered in the church, and wondering what to say to them as they all looked at me questioning why a young man was meeting them instead of the real priest.

God suddenly came to my rescue. In full view, just then, a herd of cattle was grazing at the bank of the yet-unpolluted Tawau River situated just next to the church. An inspiration got through my nerves. I asked the young people: “What will happen if we take one of the “lembu” (cattle), slaughter it, and eat it?” Stunned by such a down-to-earth and bloody question, the little crowd suddenly got quiet, and after consulting each other for a few seconds, they started giggling. I knew what was in their mind – going to the toilet and getting rid of the beef. But having conceived a good catechesis on the Eucharist in my head now, I got more confident and cockily told them to forget about the silly toilet answer.

‘We Are What We Eat!’

With more authority I repeated: “What has happened to the lembu? What has it become?” No answer. I pressed on: “How heavy were you when you were first born, and how heavy are you now? From where has the extra weight come? From thin air?  Isn’t it from everything you have eaten and drunk?” And finally, I said: “The cow has become YOU, and you the COW! We are what we eat! If you don’t believe, then go to the lab, take a small piece of your flesh and examine it, and you will find out that you are all made up of all the living things you have eaten, the living plants, the animals…” By now, the little boys and girls were all ears.

“But … to become our food, to keep us alive, the padi, the pisang, the lembu must first die. Do you believe that Jesus is really in the bread and wine you are going to receive tomorrow?” In unison and loudly they said “YES”, scared that they might be stopped from First Communion otherwise. “Jesus loves us. He died that He might really become one in you and with you, that you may really become Him. I hope when you eat and drink Jesus tomorrow you will become more and more like Jesus and behave like Him, because He loves you and has paid a high price for you. He had to die. Fr. Lee should be back soon, wait to go to your First Confession. Make it a good one, to show your appreciation and your readiness to clean up before Jesus our Lord and God really comes into your body and soul tomorrow.”

The term ‘Holy Communion’ expresses well the deep Mystery of the Eucharist.  

Every year the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (popularly called “Corpus Christi”) doubles up and in some ways duplicate the celebration of The Supper of the Lord on Holy Thursday, in order to further savour the Inestimable Gift of the Eucharist. This close connection between the Supper of the Lord and Corpus Christi is obvious. Both are celebrated on a Thursday: on Holy Thursday and Thursday after the Most Holy Trinity Sunday. However, like in some regions in the world, we in Malaysia/Singapore/Brunei, postpone it to the following Sunday, today, for a pastoral reason.

While Holy Thursday looks at the Eucharist as the Lord’s gift of His Perfect Love, His total self-giving, His Death and Sacrifice, Corpus Christi looks at the many marvellous aspects of the Great Mystery – the real presence of the Lord in the Eucharist as Food and drink that nourishes and take us to eternal life; the Communion between Jesus and His people; the Communion among all who eat and drink of Him the One Lord. The term “Holy Communion” expresses well the deep Mystery of the Eucharist.  

God the Father created man. He knows the human need and the deep mystery of eating and drinking in human life – the mystery of union between those who eat and what is eaten and the deep bond among those who eat together. In most of Asia, if we don’t eat together, meeting and coming together makes little sense, invalid.

Against the background of the Jewish Passover Meal therefore, Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper, in which He the new Passover is both the Priest and Victim. He the Paschal Lamb offers His own flesh and blood as real food and drink to His followers who eating and drinking Him would become one with Him to pass from death to life.

The first reading from Deuteronomy takes the human need for physical food and drink to sustain life to a spiritual level – the need not just for physical manna and water, but to eat every word that comes from the mouth of God, to obey God. To consume THE Word from the mouth of God, the Word in human flesh, Jesus, is to be one with Him in total obedience to the Father unto death. Man does not live on bread alone but from every word that comes from the mouth of God.  

Jesus has chosen to be present and be one with us through the elements of food and drink, bread and wine, His Real flesh and blood, God in body, spirit, and divinity. In St. John’s gospel today, Jesus makes it abundantly clear, that the Bread come down from heaven that He would give us is His real Body and Blood. He refused to argue or explain on HOW the Eucharist becomes His real Body and Blood. He only insists that if we eat and drink His Body and Blood, we live and be raised up on the last day. If we don’t, we die.

One Bread, One Body

St. Paul makes it clear that in sharing the One Bread, the One Lord in the Eucharist, we the partakers are not just individually united with Christ, but that all of us the partakers are also brought in Communion and become One Body, the Body of Christ, the Church. Eucharist makes Church. We understand the human mystery of fellowship and communion created by a meal shared together.  In fact, in today’s language, “to have fellowship” is to share food and drink together. What greater communion there is when we share the common Meal of the Eucharist in which the Body and Blood of our One Lord is eaten and drunk, together!

O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine!

Jesus, we thank you for the incomparable gift of the Eucharist!

Even as we are deprived of it during this pandemic lockdown, may we grow in our desire to eat and drink You, to be united with You and each other, so the Church may be One, and the world would believe that You have come from God!

Let’s pray and work hard that soon all of us will once more be around the Table of the Eucharist, with no one missing, in Communion with God and each other!

Cover Image: Corpus Christi procession. Oil on canvas by Carl Emil Doepler

Quote Image: Rock of the Eucharistic Miracle in Bolsena, 1263. (Pic by Mathiasrex, Maciej Szczepańczyk)

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