The Greatest Gift the World Has Ever Been Given

There was a story told by the late Cardinal Basil Hume when he was the Archbishop of Westminster about his visit to Ethiopia during the time when a great famine struck the country during the years 1984-1986.  One of the settlements he visited was up in the hills where the people were waiting for food to arrive.  The cardinal was taken there in a helicopter.

As he got out of the helicopter a small boy, about the age of 10, came up to him and took his hand. He was wearing nothing but a loincloth around his waist.  The whole time Cardinal Hume was there the child would not let go of his hand.

As they went around he made two gestures: with one hand he pointed to his mouth, and with his other hand he took the cardinal’s hand and rubbed it on his cheek.

Later Cardinal Hume said, “Here was an orphan boy who was lost and starving.  Yet by two simple gestures he indicated our two fundamental needs or hungers.  With one gesture he showed me his hunger for food, and with the other his hunger for love.”

In our first reading today we heard how human beings do not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.  Jesus even used this passage from the Old Testament when he confronted Satan in the desert during his 40-day fast.

Ordinary bread is a staple of daily life. We count on it to be on our tables.  Ordinary bread only nourishes half of us, our physical hunger.  However there is our spiritual side that also needs to be nourished.  Even the little child that Cardinal Hume encountered realized this.  In the celebration of the Eucharist we are nourished with the Word of God, a word which comforts, guides, inspires and challenges us.  And in Holy Communion we are nourished with the Bread of eternal life, the very Body and Blood of the Risen Christ. It is through this gift that Jesus is faithful to his promise, “I am with you always.”

Today as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, a precious gift we were deprived of for several weeks due to the pandemic, may we take time to reflect on the greatest gift the world has ever been given.  May we deepen our love for and our appreciation of Jesus, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament.  And may we never take this gift for granted or receive it casually.  May our eyes be opened to the reality and our hearts burn with greater love for our Eucharistic Lord.

- Father Dennis, June 14, 2020, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)