Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)—June 7, 2015
The Marian Component to the Eucharist
Purpose: The connectedness of the Blessed Mother Mary to her divine Son was seen throughout their earthly lives. This association truly still continues in the Eucharist.
Readings: Exodus 24:3-8; Hebrews 9:11-15; Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
Today, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ—a Solemnity being that highest level of liturgical celebration, and how appropriate this is! The Church is thus placing a strong emphasis on the truly incarnate presence of our Savior, in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Closely related to this gift of God himself is the Blessed Mother Mary. To see this, we can ponder over a syllogism, which involves a basic three-part logical deduction. Hence, we know, first of all, that Mary is the mother of our Lord Jesus; second, that Jesus is God, and so we draw the simple, but powerful, conclusion that Mary is the Mother of God!
It would be truly impossible to overlook or dismiss the close connection between these two—our Lord Jesus, and his mother Mary. To begin with, he spent the first 9 months of his existence within her—with her body forming this very Body of Christ. One can thus hardly dwell too much on our Savior, without considering Mary, given this close connection, starting at the very beginning of his physical time on earth. There is a branch of the religious order of the Dominican Sisters, devoted to Mary, as Mother of the Eucharist—a title so profound and appropriate, especially on the occasion of this Solemnity, as she is just that!
A very intense film was released several years ago, which closely studied and portrayed the powerful subtleties of our Lord’s final days on earth, namely, The Passion of the Christ. There was an extremely significant undercurrent which ran through the whole screenplay of that movie, which affirmed this close mother-son union. Practically every part of our Lord’s life, as depicted in the film, included portrayals of Mary’s involvement and interactions. There was a true interplay or “partnership” between the two, lending an ever deepening understanding to her title as “Co-Redemptrix,” Audiences worldwide were touched by the almost frantic response of his mother to the childhood fall he took on the dusty streets of Nazareth—a foreshadowing of how she would again run to his side when the weight of our sins would push him to the ground a few decades later on the streets in Jerusalem, on Good Friday. A maternal sensing that would seem almost eerie, if it weren’t so beautiful, was masterfully displayed in the scene when the Mother of God strode over and bent down to the floor of the temple, exactly above where our Lord hung in the dank dungeon of the basement, with him looking upward towards the ceiling, knowing that she was close by, and surely solaced and sustained by her loving presence. How could anyone ever lightly dismiss the connectedness of this mother and her divine son?
Of course, as a “remembrance of him,” our Lord left behind his Real Presence in the Eucharist. Now retired Pope Benedict XVI had examined this mother-son connectedness in his 2007 Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis. Rather early in the document there is a section entitled “The Eucharist and the Virgin Mary.” Let us look at a few passages from it:
Although we are all still journeying towards the complete fulfillment of our hope, this does not mean that we cannot already gratefully acknowledge that God’s gifts to us have found their perfect fulfillment in the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our Mother. Mary’s Assumption, body and soul, into heaven is for us a sign of sure hope, for it shows us, on our pilgrimage through time, the eschatological goal of which the Sacrament of the Eucharist enables us even now to have a foretaste.
Hence, Mary’s body and soul have made a face-to-face encounter with her son Jesus again in heaven, which helps to underscore our own Eucharistic encounters, in this exalted sacrament.
This document further emphasizes her close, faithful maternal relationship:
This mystery deepens as she becomes completely involved in the redemptive mission of Jesus. In the words of the Second Vatican Council, “the blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son until she stood at the Cross, in keeping with the divine plan (cf. John 19:25), suffering deeply with her only-begotten Son, associating herself with His sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of the Victim, Who was born of her.
Again, this demonstrates the intense and unbreakable bond between her and Jesus, being faithful to the very end—even when his closest, hand-picked followers had fled!
Our Pope Emeritus concludes his treatment of the subject with this reminder:
Consequently, every time we approach the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharistic liturgy, we also turn to her who, by her complete fidelity, received Christ’s sacrifice for the whole Church. Mary of Nazareth, icon of the nascent Church, is the model for each of us, called to receive the gift that Jesus makes of Himself in the Eucharist.
Even the Church’s liturgical calendar reflects this close union. The month of May is one with a particular Marian emphasis, and it is followed by this month of June, the entirety of which is really dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This coming Friday, June 12th, however, we will be celebrating another Solemnity, that which again sets the tone of the whole month, namely, that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This feast is followed the very next day with the celebration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary—once again, lending subtle emphasis to this close association of those two Hearts, so full of love for each other, and for all of mankind.
In closing, we remember that Mary is totally flesh and blood, or completely human—like ourselves—and so we can relate to her. Thus how much more can we relate to the Word Incarnate, who became flesh and blood (like us), namely, in the Gift of the Eucharist!