The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is also known as Corpus Christi. It is a doctrinal feast which gives special annual attention to one of the most important teachings of our faith, that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist.
Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper. He took bread and said, “This is my body;” and wine, and said, “This is my blood,” both which he offered as a sacrifice on the altar of the Cross, and God the Father looked upon Jesus’ sacrifice with favor and accepted it.
Eucharistic Prayer I, also known as the Roman Canon, makes mention of three sacrifices in the Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures which prefigure the sacrifice Jesus offered. The text reads: “Be pleased to look upon these offerings with a serene and kindly countenance, and to accept them, as once you were pleased to accept the gifts of your servant Abel the just, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the offering of your high priest Melchizedek.” The prayer asks God to accept the bread and wine offered by the priest at Mass in the same favorable way that God accepted the sacrifices of Abel, Abraham, and Melchizedek, and ultimately, in the same favorable way that God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice at the Last Supper and on the Cross.
Abel was a son of Adam and Eve, “a keeper of the flocks” (Gen 4:2), a shepherd. He brought an offering to the Lord, one of the best firstlings of his flock, a choice lamb. “The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering” (Gen 4:4) because he returned a portion of what God had given to him and he offered the best of what he had.
The patriarch Abraham was ordered by God to offer his only son Isaac as a holocaust (Gen 22:2). Abraham put his faith in the Lord and obeyed. When Abraham raised his knife, about to slaughter his son, the Lord’s messenger stopped him. In this, Abraham proved his devotion to God and that he would withhold nothing from God(Gen 22:12). Then he “spied a ram and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son” (Gen 22:13), and because he acted as he did, God looked upon Abraham’s offering with favor and accepted it.
Melchizedek was a priest of God Most High in Jerusalem, and the first biblical figure to offer bread and wine as a sacrifice to God (Gen 14:18). As Melchizedek raised them, he offered a prayer of praise, “Blessed be God Most High” (Gen 14:19a), and God looked with favor on Melchizedek’s offering and accepted it.
About Father Michael Van Sloun
Father Michael Van Sloun is pastor of St. Bartholomew Catholic Catholic Church in Wayzata, Minn. As a former school principal, high school instructor and athletic coach, he has always been a teacher. He now teaches the faith as a homilist, Bible study leader, retreat director, pilgrimage guide and author of numerous articles.
© 2011, Rev. Michael A. Van Sloun
Used with permission.