Daring to Do All We Can In Response to the Mind-blowing Gift of the Eucharist, Corpus Christi (A), June 22, 2014

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), Year A
June 22, 2014
Deut 8:2-3.14-16, Ps 147, 1 Cor 10:16-17, Jn 6:51-58

To listen to an audio recording of this homily, please click below: 

 

The text that guided the homily is below: 

A Special Feast of Gratitude and Devotion

Every Corpus Christi is special, but this year it’s extra special. Today the Church universal celebrates this Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord for the 750th time. This is the most significant anniversary in our lifetime, unless we plan to live another 250 years. While first Communicants will tell us that the first Holy Communion is no more important than the second, and married couples will tell us that the 50th wedding anniversary is no more signficant than the 49th or 51st, we have to admit that major anniversaries do provide us an occasion to celebrate a reality with greater gratitude and devotion than usual. That’s how we should be approaching this 750th anniversary of the first Corpus Christi in 1264.

This feast was specifically wanted by the Lord, who asked for it in two different stages in the 1200s. He obviously desired that our faith in the Eucharist would pass from our head, to our heart to our knees, that our response to him in this gift would go from theology to devotion, that this day would help us to grow from knowledge of his real presence to passionate love.

The Apparitions to St. Juliana

The first intervention occurred in the early part of the century, when the Lord Jesus began to appear to a contemplative nun in Belgium, St. Juliana of Mont Cornillon (1193-1258). Beginning from the time she was 16, a moon would appear to her throughout the day with a black band in it. She wondered what it meant and the Lord Jesus appeared to her in a dream and mentioned that the moon referred to the liturgical year and the black band to the fact that the liturgical year lacked one thing, a day in honor of His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. Up until that point, the Church had marked the institution of the Eucharist each year on Holy Thursday, when the Lord gave the Apostles His Body and Blood for the first time and instituted the priesthood so that through His priests, that Body and Blood might be multiplied to every land in every age. But on Holy Thursday, the focus of Christians is divided. Yes, we think about the Eucharist, but we also ponder the imminent betrayal that will occur after the Last Supper. Even the Gospel of the Mass of the Last Supper does not focus on the Eucharist, but rather on the Lord’s washing His Apostles’ feet and commissioning them to do the same in loving, humble service of others. Jesus was saying that missing from the liturgical calendar was a feast specifically dedicated to rejoicing in the incredible gift of the Eucharist and thanking God for it. After 20 years of these apparitions, Saint Juliana went to the local bishop, Bishop Robert de Thorete of Liège, and asked him to institute a feast in their diocese in Belgium, which he did beginning in 1246. The Archdeacon of the Bishop of Liège, who presented her to the bishop and was his point man in working out all the details for the feast, was someone named Jacques Pantaleon. Seven years later he was ordained a priest and consecrated Bishop of Verdun. Two years later, during the age of the crusades, he was named Patriarch of Jerusalem. And in 1261, he was elected Pope Urban IV and would be intimately involved in the second part of the Lord’s manifestation of his desire for a universal feast dedicated to his Body and Blood.

Fr. Peter of Prague’s Rediscovery of Eucharistic Faith

That second began with a Czech priest, Father Peter of Prague, who had lost his faith in the reality of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist. We have to confront the fact that priests can lose their faith in the Eucharist. Priests can start to take for granted that what starts out as mere bread and wine in theirs hands totally changes, after a few words, into the Body and Blood of the God-man, Jesus, even though all the appearances of the bread and wine remain.Father Peter began to feel like a hypocrite celebrating the Eucharist while having some doubts about whether the Lord Jesus was truly there. But he hadn’t yet lost his faith in God and, hence, decided to give God the opportunity to give him that faith by doing something quite drastic. In 1263, he decided to make a pilgrimage to Rome, to pray at the tomb of his patron, St. Peter, for the gift of renewed faith in the Eucharist. This was a drastic move, because to make a pilgrimage to Rome was quite an undertaking then. Today we can hop on a plane at Logan airport and arrive in Rome eight hours later. To make a pilgrimage from Prague to Rome in 1263, however, would have meant walking 851 miles, like walking from Fall River to Cincinnati, Ohio or Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. At twenty miles a day, it would have taken a month and a half, one way. Despite the hardship and sacrifice, however, Peter went, desperate to save his priesthood and save his faith.

Why did he make the pilgrimage to St. Peter in Rome? There were tombs of saints and pilgrimage destinations much closer to Prague, but Father Peter did not choose any of them. He went to the tomb of his patron because St. Peter has always been an example to the whole Church of faith in the Eucharist. We remember what happened at the end of the scene in today’s Gospel when Jesus in the Synagogue of Capernaum talked about the reality of the Eucharist for the first time. He told his listeners that unless they ate His flesh and drank His blood, they would have no life in them, and the one who ate His flesh and drank His blood would have eternal life. St. John tells us that many of the disciples, those for whom the Lord had worked so hard for the previous two years to bring to the truth, walked away, thinking that Jesus was mentally ill, teaching them the necessity of cannibalism. They complained, saying, “This teaching is hard! Who can accept it?” Jesus then turned to His closest followers, the Twelve, and asked them, “Do you also wish to go away?” None of them could have understood what Jesus was talking about any better than those who had just abandoned Jesus. It would take a year before what Jesus was saying would make any sense, when Jesus, during the Last Supper, took bread and wine into His hands and changed them into His body and blood, saying. “This is my body”; “This is the chalice of my blood.” Nevertheless, even though they didn’t understand truly what Jesus was saying and why He was saying it, St. Peter stood up after the Lord asked whether they, too, would leave Him over His teaching on the Eucharist, and said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.”That’s the reason why Father Peter of Prague made the pilgrimage to Rome, to ask for faith in Christ’s words just like his St. Peter had.

He finally arrived after a long and lengthy journey. He prayed for a few weeks in front of the tomb of his patron, but after all of that, it seemed as if nothing had happened. Thus Fr. Peter started to question his entire faith in God. Hadn’t Jesus said that whoever knocked would have the door opened, whoever asked would receive, whoever sought would find? Hadn’t He said that the Father knows how to give good things to His children? Yet when Father Peter, a priest, had asked for something so important for him to be a good disciple and apostle of the Lord — faith in the Lord’s presence in the Eucharist — it seemed like he had come up empty. So, crestfallen, he began his journey north, now with very little faith at all.

He was traveling in a group of returning pilgrims, because there was safety in numbers in warding off bandits who would wait in hiding to ambush individual travelers. When it came to be Sunday, members of the group asked Fr. Peter if he might celebrate Mass for them. More out of courtesy than faith, he assented. They stopped at a small church dedicated to St. Christina in Bolsena, Italy, and celebrated Mass on a side altar. Right before the “Lamb of God,” when Father Peter broke the host, as a priest always does to put a particle into the chalice, the host in his hands began to bleed over his hands and on the corporal. The people, beholding the miracle in front of their eyes, started to shriek. The priest of St. Christina’s came to see what all the commotion was about and beheld the miracle with his own eyes. They had to decide what to do with the miracle. The local priest knew that Pope Urban IV was at that time in Orvieto, the well-fortified papal city only about 10 miles uphill from where they were, and so they went to inform the Pope of the miracle and the Pope sent the local bishop to investigate the Blood Stained Corporal. Eventually the Corporal was brought to Orvieto in a caravan of all those who had witnessed the miracle. We can imagine Fr. Peter’s telling Pope Urban IV his story, about how he had lost his faith in the Eucharist, made a pilgrimage to Rome, thought that the Lord hadn’t heard his prayer, but then He had made His real presence incontrovertibly present during the celebration of the Mass in Bolsena. Father Peter would have punctuated the truth of the Lord’s presence in the Eucharist by saying something like, “Holy Father, bread can’t bleed.” Urban IV, the former archdeacon of Liège, Jacques Pantaleon, took that miracle as a sign that Christ wanted a feast to His Body and Blood celebrated not just in his home diocese in Belgium, but throughout the whole Church. He wanted the routine Eucharistic miracle that was the basis of the extraordinary Eucharistic miracle to be celebrated.The first one was celebrated in 1264 and it has been celebrated ever since.

The Lord appeared to St. Juliana of Liege and then worked the miracle in Fr. Peter’s hands so that we and the whole Church might fittingly celebrate His Body and Blood to this day, in our own parishes, throughout the world.

The Prayers of the Impassioned Poet of the Eucharist

For that first celebration of Corpus Christi, Pope Urban turned to the greatest teacher of the Catholic faith after Jesus, the Dominican St. Thomas Aquinas, to write the liturgy. St. Thomas was living in Orvieto at the time. He wrote the Collect (opening prayer) we said at the beginning of Mass today. He wrote five hymns for this feast day: the Lauda Sion Salvatorem we sang before today’s Gospel; the Panis Angelicus that we’ll sing later at Mass (part ofthe hymn for the Office of Readings Sacris Solemnis); the O Salutaris Hostia we sing when we expose the Blessed Sacrament (part of the chant for Morning Prayer, Verbum Supernum Prodiens); the Tantum Ergo Sacramentum we sing at Benediction (part of the canticle for Vespers, Pange Lingua Gloriosi); and the beautiful hymn for Eucharistic adoration Adoro Te Devote.

St. John Paul II called St. Thomas an “impassioned poet of Christ in the Eucharist” and Pope Benedict XVI said he had an “exquisitely Eucharistic soul” that produced the “most beautiful hymns that the Liturgy of the Church sings.”

Three weeks ago, on May 31, I traveled to Orvieto with Jack Shrader, a seminarian from our Diocese studying at the North American College, so that I could prepare better for this Feast. In between train rides through the Italian countryside and two nice Italian meals, we spent several hours praying in the exquisite Orvieto Cathedral that enshrines the bloodstained corporal. For my meditation, I pondered St. Thomas’ five great hymns written for this Feast that have been nourishing the Eucharistic faith and love of Catholics for the last three-quarters of a millennium. I’d like to share with you five thoughts culled from these Eucharistic hymns that can help us to celebrate this Feast — and the Eucharistic reality underlying it — well.

Daring to Do All We Can

The first thought concerns St. Thomas’ encouragement for us to go “all out” in praising the Eucharistic Lord today and beyond. In the Sequence we sang today, St. Thomas said, Quantum potes, tantum aude, quia maior omni laude nec laudare sufficis. “Dare to do all you can, because all the praise you give won’t equal all the praise Jesus deserves.” This is the essence of Corpus Christi, that we ought to be extravagant in our response to Jesus’ extravagant gift. Like Mary of Bethany who “wasted” 300 days wages worth of genuine aromatic spikenard anointing Jesus’ feet, we’re called lavishly to give of ourselves to the Lord in gratitude. Quantum potes — however much you can — tantum aude, so much dare to do. St. Thomas’ words aren’t supposed to expire at the stroke of midnight at the end of Corpus Christi, but to last, to lead to a truly Eucharistic life.

In response to this, young men give up families of their own, lucrative careers, even their own autonomy in order to be able to bring this gift to the world as priests.

In response to this, young women dedicate their entire life to adoring him in religious and consecrated life.

In response to this many of our own parishioners make a commitment to come to be with him every week, several in the middle of the night, in Eucharistic adoration, and others make the commitment to receive him every day, because what could really be more important on a Monday, or a Thursday than receiving Jesus inside at daily Mass.

What about you? How much can you give? Today the whole Church is daring us to give that much, to give to our absolute limit, to get out of our comfort zone and give Jesus something worthy of his humility in allowing us to enter into his life this way.

Making Us Believe More and More Each Day

The second thought involves St. Thomas’ recognition that to dare to give all we can we need an increase in faith. Fr. Peter of Prague had lost his faith. Many people have lost their faith.

I cannot believe that if Catholics really believed that the Eucharist was Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ was God they wouldn’t be here with us at Mass today. But many use Sunday to sleep, or work, or clean their house, or play sports, or watch TV rather than come to Church, because they’ve lost the Eucharistic faith they once had. If Taylor Swift or Tom Brady were here the Church would be packed. If people recognized Jesus Christ is here, it would be even more packed. But they don’t believe.

We need to be somewhat sympathetic. After all, the Eucharist is hard to believe! We believe that after the words of consecration, what seems to our senses to remain just simple unleavened bread and wine really becomes the Son of God and Savior of the world. That’s why St. Thomas in all his Eucharistic hymns for this day had us pray for an increase in Eucharistic faith.

In his Adoro Te Devote, he sang, “Visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur, Sed auditu solo tuto creditur. Credo quidquid dixit Dei Filius; Nil hoc verbo veritátis verius. “Having seen, touched and tasted, we’re deceived about you. It’s only by hearing that we can believe. I believe whatever the Son of God has said beasue nothing is truer than the Word of Truth.” These words come from St. Thomas’ reflections on today’s Gospel, where Jesus said his flesh is true food and his blood true drink and that we have to gnaw on his flesh and drink his blood to have life in us. We believe what he says because we believe in Him, who is the Truth incarnate, as St. Peter’s response to Jesus indicates.

Later in that hymn, we sing, “Fac me tibi semper magis credere,” “Make me always believe in you more and more.”

In the Tantum Ergo, we cry out “Praestet fides supplementum sensuum defectui,” May faith supplement what my senses fail to grasp.”

Today is a day in which we ask the Lord to strengthen our faith and strengthen the faith of all Catholics.

Growing in Wonder and Amazement

The third insight involves the need for wonder. In the Panis Angelicus, we sing, “O res mirabilis, manducat Dominum, pauper, servus et humilis.” “O what a mind-blowing reality, a poor and humble servant eats the Lord!”

This morning in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said, “Jesus stresses that he did not come into this world to give something, but to give himself, his life as nourishment for all those who have faith in Him.” It’s almost incomprehensible that the Creator and the Redeemer of the world would remain with us sacramentally present until the end of time, but he wants us, with all of weaknesses and frailties, in our poverty and humility, to consume him, so that we might become what we eat.

It’s important for us on Corpus Christi and beyond to spend time praying about this “wondrous reality” (res mirabilis).

Last night I drove up to Boston to venerate the blood of St. John Paul II that this weekend is being exposed for public veneration at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. John Paul II had stressed the need for Eucharistic amazement. He said the Church’s response to the Eucharist “has its source in the amazement with which the Church contemplates this great Mystery. It is an amazement that I myself constantly experience.” Then he said that as he was approaching his 27th year as Pope, which would be his last, “I consider it a great grace to be able to call the whole Church to contemplate, praise and adore in a special way this ineffable Sacrament, … the incomparable treasure that Christ has entrusted to the Church.” I prayed before his relics last night that through his intercession every single person in this parish will receive the grace of this amazement.

This is the wonder that can lead us to dare to do all that we can in response to this great gift. Many of us, however, don’t spend enough time pondering this gift.

I read an article from another priest yesterday that made a great point. He said, many of us put more faith in Tylenol than in the Eucharist. When we receive a Tylenol, we actually expect something to happen, for our paint to away, for there to be relief and healing. But when many of us receive Holy Communion, we expect next to nothing to happen. We treat it as just as ritual. We don’t realize that it’s we, poor and humble servants, eating God, consuming what St. Ignatius of Antioch in the year 107 called the “medicine of immortality.”

This feast of Corpus Christi is an opportunity for all of us to rediscover this Eucharistic amazement.

Making Sure the Bread of Life Doesn’t Become the Bread of Death

The fourth reality St. Thomas describes is about our need to examine ourselves about how we’re receiving the Lord.

Yesterday in the south of Italy, Pope Francis courageously and forcefully took on the mafia who dominate that region. Many of the faithful are afraid of the mob as our many of the clergy. While they carry on their life of crime, intimidation and murder, they still often come to Church, are treated as benefactors with their blood money, and are even given Holy Communion. Pope Francis said that the life of the mafia, rather than being an adoration of God, is an “adoration of evil and contempt for the common good.” He said, “Those who in their lives have taken this evil road, this road of evil, such as the mobsters, they are not in communion with God, they are excommunicated.”

Jesus wants us all to receive his body and blood, he wants us all to come into communion and to be saved, but there are conditions on our reception.

In today’s second reading, St. Paul asks, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” In other words, we become one with Christ’s body and blood in Holy Communion and we unite ourselves to him, including in a sense the evil we bear. That’s why, a little later in his First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul says that because it’s a participation in Christ we have to ensure we’re not uniting iniquity to Jesus: “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily,” he says, “will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup.”

St. Thomas would sing in today’s Sequence, “Sumunt boni, sumunt mali: sorte tamen inaquaeli, vitae vel interitus. Mors est malis, vita bonis: vide paris sumptionis quam sit dispar exitus.” “Good and evil both take up the host but to unequal outcomes, one to life and the other to the tomb, death to the evil one, life to the good. See how different an end comes from an apparently similar reception.”

The essential truth that both St. Paul and St. Thomas were indicating is that the Bread of Life becomes the bread of death for those who receive unworthily. We need to receive worthily. We all recognize that it’s wrong for mafia dons to come from ordering an execution or extorting a poor family to Church and receive Holy Communion, but we often don’t examine ourselves adequately.

In the pews we have placed pews cards that on the one side have prayers before and after Mass (two of them written by St. Thomas Aquinas for Corpus Christi) and on the other side criteria of worthiness for receiving Holy Communion. On it, I print what the US Bishops wrote all Catholics in 2006: that when we commit a mortal sin and deliberately fail to live as Christ taught us in a serious matter, there is a “rejection of communion with God… and we are seriously obliged to refrain from receiving Holy Communion until we are reconciled with God and the church” through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.”

The bishops specify several of these mortal sins. Some are obvious, like worshipping another God or committing murder. Some are may not be so obvious today because they are much more common, like: “Failing to worship God by missing Mass on a Sunday or on a holy day of obligation without a serious reason, such as sickness or the absence of a priest”; “Engaging in sexual activity outside the bonds of a valid marriage”; “Speaking maliciously or slandering people in a way that seriously undermines their good name”; and, “Producing, marketing or indulging in pornography.”

When we engage in this activity, we cut ourselves off from communion with the Lord. The bishops state that Catholics who have cut off their communion with Christ in any of these ways must first go to receive Christ’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance before they come to receive Him in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

I speak about this at length because many Catholics are confused about this. They treat receiving Jesus in Holy Communion like birthday cake at a birthday party; if you show up to the party, you feel entitled to a slice of cake and would feel offended and unwelcome if you weren’t offered one. That’s not the way it is. Everyone is absolutely welcome to come to Mass, no matter what the state of his or her life and soul. The Church is a hospital for sinners. But not everyone is fit to receive Holy Communion. Only those who are morally certain that they’re living in Communion with Jesus, only those who haven’t committed any serious sins since their last good confession, are supposed to come. We have to be in communion to receive Holy Communion. If we’re not, then we need to be restored through confession and conversion. Otherwise, St. Paul and St. Thomas remind us, we’re committing what might be the worst sin of all, committing the sacrilege of receiving Jesus unworthily, eating and drinking judgment upon ourselves and consuming what for us becomes the bread of death instead of the life-giving nourishment God gives.

The Eucharist and Heaven

The last insight from St. Thomas we’ll ponder is the connection between the Eucharist and heaven, how the way we prepare to receive Jesus here on earth is the way we prepare for heaven. St. Thomas always finishes the last verses of his hymns with a reference to the connection between the Eucharist and heaven. Jesus, of course, makes the same connection in today’s Gospel: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him on the last day.” The best way for us to prepare for eternal life is to seek to live off of Jesus here in this life, to draw our life from him in the Eucharist.

At the end of today’s sequence, we prayed with St. Thomas, “You who know all things and wish us every good thing who shepherds us mortals here below: make us there (in heaven) your fellow banqueters, co-heirs and companions of the city of the saints!”

And in the Panis Angelicus, he places on our lips these words that have always moved me, “Te, trina Deitas unaque, poscimus: sic nos tu visita, sicut te colimus; per tuas semitas duc nos quo tendimus, ad lucem quam inhabitas.” We beg you, God one and three: as you visit us as we worship you: lead us by your paths on which we have been made by you to seek to that light in which you dwell!” Jesus wants to lead us step-by-step into the light in which he dwells, here in this world and forever, to the place that he has made us to tend and desire. He wants to lead us to the place where he dwells in light with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the place where his Mother and all the saints are, the place where we hope to be his companions at table, heirs of his victory, his friends and fellow citizens of the saints.

How Blessed We Are!

Today, on this 750th celebration of the feast of Corpus Christi, we come and seek to respond to his grace to dare to do all we can, to be filled with wonder, to receive an increase of faith, to examine our consciences, and to follow him more and more deeply along the path of light and life into a holy communion that is nourished here at Mass, extends throughout the whole of life and is meant to lead us to that communion with God and with the saints that will know no end. “Blessed are those who are called to the Supper of the Lamb!” Blessed indeed are we to be here. May we all respond to God’s help so that this 750th celebration of Corpus Christi will lead us to its fulfillment in the heavenly liturgy.

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1
DT 8:2-3, 14B-16A

Moses said to the people:
“Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God,
has directed all your journeying in the desert,
so as to test you by affliction
and find out whether or not it was your intention
to keep his commandments.
He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger,
and then fed you with manna,
a food unknown to you and your fathers,
in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live,
but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.”Do not forget the LORD, your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt,
that place of slavery;
who guided you through the vast and terrible desert
with its saraph serpents and scorpions,
its parched and waterless ground;
who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock
and fed you in the desert with manna,
a food unknown to your fathers.”

Responsorial Psalm
PS 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20

R/ (12) Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
or:
R/ Alleluia.
Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion.
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;
he has blessed your children within you.
R/ Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
or:
R/ Alleluia.
He has granted peace in your borders;
with the best of wheat he fills you.
He sends forth his command to the earth;
swiftly runs his word!
R/ Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
or:
R/ Alleluia.
He has proclaimed his word to Jacob,
his statutes and his ordinances to Israel.
He has not done thus for any other nation;
his ordinances he has not made known to them. Alleluia.
R/ Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
or:
R/ Alleluia.

Reading 2
1 COR 10:16-17

Brothers and sisters:
The cup of blessing that we bless,
is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?
The bread that we break,
is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
Because the loaf of bread is one,
we, though many, are one body,
for we all partake of the one loaf.

Sequence – Lauda Sion

Laud, O Zion, your salvation,
Laud with hymns of exultation,
Christ, your king and shepherd true:

Bring him all the praise you know,
He is more than you bestow.
Never can you reach his due.

Special theme for glad thanksgiving
Is the quick’ning and the living
Bread today before you set:

From his hands of old partaken,
As we know, by faith unshaken,
Where the Twelve at supper met.

Full and clear ring out your chanting,
Joy nor sweetest grace be wanting,
From your heart let praises burst:

For today the feast is holden,
When the institution olden
Of that supper was rehearsed.

Here the new law’s new oblation,
By the new king’s revelation,
Ends the form of ancient rite:

Now the new the old effaces,
Truth away the shadow chases,
Light dispels the gloom of night.

What he did at supper seated,
Christ ordained to be repeated,
His memorial ne’er to cease:

And his rule for guidance taking,
Bread and wine we hallow, making
Thus our sacrifice of peace.

This the truth each Christian learns,
Bread into his flesh he turns,
To his precious blood the wine:

Sight has fail’d, nor thought conceives,
But a dauntless faith believes,
Resting on a pow’r divine.

Here beneath these signs are hidden
Priceless things to sense forbidden;
Signs, not things are all we see:

Blood is poured and flesh is broken,
Yet in either wondrous token
Christ entire we know to be.

Whoso of this food partakes,
Does not rend the Lord nor breaks;
Christ is whole to all that taste:

Thousands are, as one, receivers,
One, as thousands of believers,
Eats of him who cannot waste.

Bad and good the feast are sharing,
Of what divers dooms preparing,
Endless death, or endless life.

Life to these, to those damnation,
See how like participation
Is with unlike issues rife.

When the sacrament is broken,
Doubt not, but believe ‘tis spoken,
That each sever’d outward token
doth the very whole contain.

Nought the precious gift divides,
Breaking but the sign betides
Jesus still the same abides,
still unbroken does remain.

The shorter form of the sequence begins here.

Lo! the angel’s food is given
To the pilgrim who has striven;
see the children’s bread from heaven,
which on dogs may not be spent.

Truth the ancient types fulfilling,
Isaac bound, a victim willing,
Paschal lamb, its lifeblood spilling,
manna to the fathers sent.

Very bread, good shepherd, tend us,
Jesu, of your love befriend us,
You refresh us, you defend us,
Your eternal goodness send us
In the land of life to see.

You who all things can and know,
Who on earth such food bestow,
Grant us with your saints, though lowest,
Where the heav’nly feast you show,
Fellow heirs and guests to be. Amen. Alleluia.

Gospel
JN 6:51-58

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world.”The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever.”