Corpus Christi and Love for our Father
The Church Universal lifts up for us today throughout the world the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, known in Latin as Corpus Christi. Here in the U.S., today it is also Father’s Day, and it is quite fitting that this feast of the Eucharist should be celebrated alongside this day in which we pay loving tribute to the men who have provided for and protected us, and given so much of their lives for us.
Pope Benedict XVI affirms that, “in the Eucharist, Jesus does not give us a ‘thing,’ but himself; he offers his own Body and pours out his own Blood. He thus gives us the totality of his life and reveals the ultimate origin of this love. He is the eternal Son, given to us by the Father” (Sacramentum Caritatis, 7). Jesus gave us the sacrifice of his Body and Blood in the Eucharist, yet at the same time, this is a gift to us from our heavenly Father. “My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world,” said Jesus, adding, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven” (John 6:32-33, 51).
Also, before Jesus’ holy sacrifice is a gift to us, it is a gift to the Father. “The gift of his love and obedience to the point of giving his life is in the first place a gift to his Father,” explained Saint John Paul II. “Certainly it is a gift given for our sake, and indeed that of all humanity, yet it is first and foremost a gift to the Father: ‘a sacrifice that the Father accepted, giving, in return for this total self-giving by his Son, who ‘became obedient unto death,’ his own paternal gift, that is to say the grant of new immortal life in the resurrection’” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 13 (citations omitted)).
In the same way, we too should love our Father in heaven first before we love and make a gift of self to our earthly fathers – or to any other loved ones (cf. Luke 14:26). We should not be fearful that in doing so we love our fathers less. Rather, in loving God first, in putting our heavenly Father before all else, we actually end up loving our earthly fathers more, we do them even greater honor. When we love our father through our Father, our love is purified and enlarged a hundredfold.
As Pope Benedict said, “The person who puts himself in God’s hands does not distance himself from others, withdrawing into his private salvation; on the contrary, it is only then that his heart truly awakens and he becomes a sensitive, hence, benevolent and open person” (Homily of December 8, 2005).
As we give thanks today to our heavenly Father for the gift of his Son, who gives us himself in the Eucharist, and also for the gift of our earthly fathers who have given us life and love, let us also pray that God bless them and keep them always.