Corpus Christi, Year C

Genesis 14:18-20 / 1 Cor 11:23-26 / Luke 9:11-17

The word “eat” is a popular word and for us it is a favourite word. Because it forms our favourite question: “Where to eat?”. And it also forms our next favourite question: “What to eat?” Not that there is nothing to eat. Rather there is too much to choose from; we are really spoilt for choice.
And there are also many phrases that use the word “eat”: eat-and-run; dog-eat-dog; eat your own words; eat humble pie; eat like there’s no tomorrow; you can’t have your cake and eat it.

And then there’s this one that is rather amusing – eat your heart out.

The meaning is that if you say "eat your heart out” followed by the name of a famous person, you are jokingly saying that you are even better than that person.

The origin of that phrase means to suffer in silence from anguish or grief, or more graphically, to have the heart eaten out with desire, bitterness, or pain.

But on the funny side, when this is referred to the eating capabilities of teenagers, we can say that they can eat their hearts out without affecting their appetites.

So when there is an abundance of food, we can think of humourous sayings and even make philosophical reflections.

In the gospel, food was also the talking point. But there wasn’t anything to laugh about, nor was it an occasion to make profound reflections about eating. Simply because there wasn’t anything to eat. Or to put it more correctly, there were five thousand men and only five loaves and two fish.

The disciples proposed the most convenient solution – send the people away and let them solve the problem themselves.

Jesus counter proposed: Give them something to eat yourselves.

As the disciples stared at the five loaves and two fish and wondered how to solve the overwhelming problem, Jesus proceeded with the underlying solution.

He took the five loaves and two fish, raised His eyes to heaven, said the blessing over them, broke it and distributed it.

And a miracle happened. They all ate as much as they wanted and when the scraps remaining were collected, they filled twelve baskets.

Yes, a miracle happened, and as we look at Jesus blessing the food, breaking it and distributing it, it all pointed to one thing – He gave them something to eat, He gave His heart out.

Today the Church celebrates the feast of Corpus Christi, which means the Body of Christ.

Jesus feeds us with His Body, and it also means He gives His Heart out to us.

*But the weakening of faith in the Real Presence of the Risen Christ in the Eucharist is one of the most significant aspects of the current spiritual crisis. Jesus wants to strengthen our faith in His Eucharistic presence. That is why from time to time in the history of the Catholic Church He gives us signs - Eucharistic miracles that clearly point to the fact that He, the Risen Lord Himself in the mystery of His Divinity and glorified humanity, is truly present in the Eucharist.

The most recent Eucharistic miracle recognized by the Church authorities occurred in 1996 in the capital of Argentina–Buenos Aires.

In the evening on August 18, 1996, Fr. Alejandro Pezet was saying Holy Mass at a Catholic church in the commercial center of Buenos Aires. As he was finishing distributing Holy Communion, a woman came up to tell him that she had found a discarded host at the back of the church. Fr. Alejandro went and saw the defiled Host. Since he was unable to consume it, he placed it in a container of water and put it away in the tabernacle of the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament.

On Monday, August 26, upon opening the tabernacle, he saw to his amazement that the Host had turned into a bloody substance. He informed Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (who is now Pope Francis) who gave instructions that the Host be professionally photographed. The photos were taken on September 6. They clearly show that the Host, which had become a fragment of bloodied flesh, had grown significantly in size. For several years the Host remained in the tabernacle, the whole affair being kept a strict secret. Since the Host suffered no visible decomposition, Cardinal Bergoglio decided to have it scientifically analyzed.

In 1999, in the presence of the Cardinal’s representatives, Dr. Castanon took a sample of the bloody fragment and sent it to New York for analysis. Since he did not wish to prejudice the study, he purposely did not inform the team of scientists of its provenance.

One of these scientists was Dr. Frederic Zugiba, the well-known cardiologist and forensic pathologist. He determined that the analyzed substance was real flesh and blood containing human DNA. Dr. Zugiba testified that, “the analyzed material is a fragment of the heart muscle found in the wall of the left ventricle close to the valves. This muscle is responsible for the contraction of the heart, and it pumps blood to all parts of the body. The heart muscle is in an inflammatory condition and contains a large number of white blood cells.

This indicates that the heart was alive at the time the sample was taken. It is my contention that the heart was alive, since white blood cells die outside a living organism. They require a living organism to sustain them. Thus, their presence indicates that the heart was alive when the sample was taken.

What is more, these white blood cells had penetrated the tissue, which further indicates that the heart had been under severe stress, as if the owner had been beaten severely about the chest.”

When Dr. Zugiba was asked how long the white blood cells would have remained alive if they had come from a piece of human tissue, which had been kept in water, he replied that they would have ceased to exist in a matter of minutes. Then he was told that the source of the sample had first been kept in ordinary water for a month and then for another three years in a container of distilled water; only then had the sample been taken for analysis. Dr. Zugiba was at a loss to account for this fact.

There was no way of explaining it scientifically, he stated. Only then was he told that the analyzed sample came from a consecrated Host (white, unleavened bread) that had mysteriously turned into bloody human flesh.

Amazed by this information, Dr. Zugiba replied, “How and why a consecrated Host would change its character and become living human flesh and blood will remain an inexplicable mystery to science, a mystery totally beyond her competence.” * (Eucharistic Miracle in Buenos Aires, by Fr. Mieczys┼éaw Piotrowski S.Chr.)
So for those who have faith and believe, no explanation is necessary; but for those who do not believe no explanation is possible.

We who have faith must also ask the Lord Jesus to increase our faith and to always believe that in giving us His Body, Jesus also gave His Heart out to us.

As we receive the Body of Christ in Holy Communion, Jesus wants to heal us from eating our hearts out in anguish or grief, or in bitterness or pain.

Jesus gives His Heart out to us. May we in turn give our hearts out to others.

That is what the Body of Christ is about. And that is what being the Body of Christ is about.