This past Thursday, was the feast of Corpus Christi, although for many years the feast has been transferred to the following Sunday. Corpus Christi, however, is properly celebrated on Thursday, because it was on Thursday that the Lord instituted the Most Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper. In moving this feast to Sunday, we lose the sense of a sacred moment in history, a particular day (Thursday) on which the Lord instituted the Sacrament of His Body and Blood at the Last Supper. We were exactly 33 faithful for the feast on Thursday night. When the feast is moved to the following Sunday, it provides the feast both for those who can participate on the very day itself, but also for everyone on the following Sunday. It provides the opportunity, also, for some of us to celebrate the great feasts twice, because once is never enough!
The feast of the Body of Christ was promoted by St. Thomas Aquinas, who composed the hymns for this Mass in the 13th Century, after the Eucharistic miracle at Bolsena (blood stains manifesting on a Mass corporal, now kept in the chapel at Orvieto, north of Rome). Thomas’ friend, Pope Urban IV, made it a universal feast in 1264. Thomas’ poem, the Lauda Sion, is the longest sequence in the Roman liturgy.
The Epistle for the feast is from 1 Cor 11. The Apostle Paul hands on the faith he has received, that “the same night Christ was betrayed, He took bread and wine, offered thanks, and said ‘this is my body and this is my blood.’” Therefore, Paul continues, whoever eats and drinks the Body and Blood unworthily “shall be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord.”  Very few Catholics understand what “worthy” reception of Holy Communion means. It doesn’t mean you have to be a saint to receive the Eucharist, but it does mean you have to “recognize” (in Paul’s words) the Real Presence. That “real presence” is essentially in the Sacred Species, but not limited to the Sacred Host and Precious Chalice. It is also in the entire Body of Christ, in every human person created in the image of God. As Mother Teresa said, “every person is Christ,” and “the Blessed Eucharist we receive at morning Mass, and the bodies of the poor we touch later in the day on the streets—it is the same Jesus.”
Let us pray that all Catholics, but especially those entrusted with the Common Good, recognize the Body and Blood of the Lord.