Corpus Christi Sunday
Written by: Sam Abbott, UF Student
Little is known about St. Tarcisius, except for how he died. Either a deacon or young acolyte, Tarcisius lived in 3rd century Rome, where Christians were heavily persecuted and constantly martyred. One day, Tarcisius volunteered to bring the Blessed Sacrament to Christians who were in Roman jails. While traveling to the prison, Tarcisius was accosted by a mob who discovered he was Christian and demanded he hand over what he was carrying. Tarcisius refused to do so and was brutally beaten by the mob. While he managed to keep the Eucharist intact and unharmed, he succumbed to the wounds from the mob attack. To some, this sacrifice of one’s life may seem puzzling, but as Catholics we understand Tarcisius gave up his life because he knew that the Real Presence of Christ is found in the Eucharist.
Today on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, we celebrate the reason why Tarcisius sacrificed himself. We are also called to remember the mystery and beauty of the Eucharist. Like Moses and the Israelites in the first reading, Christ makes a sacrifice. However, Christ does not use the blood of animals to make a covenant with us. Instead, Jesus offers up His own Body and Blood. In the Gospel reading for today (Mark 14:12-16,22-26), Christ became the victim so that a new covenant would be made between Himself and all of humanity. This covenant offers salvation and eternal reward for all those who believe and adhere to His word.
To understand the institution of the Eucharist and its relationship with the faithful, look no further than the second reading. In his letter to the Hebrews, we hear that the blood of Christ, ”cleanses our conscience from dead works.” The Eucharist sanctifies us because Christ, His promises, and His ultimate sacrifice are present within it. The Eucharist offers us the ability to be in union with God on Earth and rejoice that we are saved by a God who truly loves us.
As proclaimed at the Second Vatican Council, the Eucharistic sacrifice is the ”the source and summit of the Christian life.” For us, the people of the New Covenant, the Eucharist is the anchor of our spiritual lives and offers us refuge from the busy and chaotic world around us. The Eucharist gives us infinite strength to remain steadfast in our faith, even under Tarcisius-like persecution. The most Blessed Sacrament was instituted by our Saving Victim’s sacrifice, so we must be willing to sacrifice a part of ourselves to truly appreciate its significance.
“How inestimable a dignity, beloved brethren, divine bounty has bestowed upon us Christians from the treasury of its infinite goodness” – St. Thomas