Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity • Year C

John D. Merkelis, O.S.A.
Providence Catholic High School
New Lenox, Illinois

Gen 14:18-20
Ps 110:1, 2, 3, 4 1
Cor 11: 23-26
Lk 9:11b-17

What does the Eucharist mean to you? It is a question worth asking and, depending on a variety of factors (your age, your time in history, your current life circumstances), the answer to that question may change. I remember my First Communion: my second-grade class was handsomely attired, with boys in clip-on ties and girls in beautiful white veils. We processed in, two by two, hands meticulously folded. We knelt at a Communion rail, and the priest said, “Corpus Christi,” to which we all answered, “Amen.” I returned to my pew, very conscious that the host should not touch my teeth. I let it dissolve, folded it over neatly with my tongue, and swallowed it. It was a powerful experience, because I was absolutely convinced that it brought holiness into me. There was an accompanying warmth in my heart that I interpreted to be holy – so this is what holiness feels like! I’ll return to this later.

In celebrating the Body and Blood of Christ, we celebrate a rich feast that is central to our faith and the core of what we believe. Vatican II calls the liturgy the “summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the fount from which her power flows.” The Catechism, in similar terms, describes the Eucharist as “the source and summit of the Christian life.”

It is a daunting task to preach about the significance of the Body and Blood of Christ. How can I capture the depth of its meaning in one short reflection? Sometimes my heart in prayer

entertains several images that allow me to reflect more deeply, and recognize more clearly, the importance of Eucharist in my life. What follows is my feeble attempt to give words to a Mystery, perhaps the Mystery of our faith. These images represent a variety of perspectives, not meant to be exhaustive. Perhaps one of them will capture your attention and invite you to experience more deeply the Mystery of the Eucharist.


“Body” is physicality, it is tangible, it is part of our identity. We are incarnational: we not only have a body – we are our body! It is how we relate to the world. God takes on flesh and bone and blood in Jesus.

Our bodies are our physical contact with the world. Through the Incarnation, God entered a human body to touch the world. Touch is deeply associated with our body. I remember playing basketball one time, and a defender poked me square in the eye with his long, spindly finger. I lost sight for a while and was petrified! The only thing I remember, and I remember it powerfully, is my friend putting his hand on my shoulder while I anguished over whether my sight would return. The touch was soothing, comforting and assuring. The touch of a mother or father or friend is powerful indeed. With the body, we are capable of touch. We can literally reach out to others, lend a hand – just like God touches our hearts, our spirits, in the Eucharist.

The body is also the group! “Corporate” and “Corporation” come from the same Latin root, corpus. It means a body of people acting as a single entity (thank you, Oxford Dictionary!) We are more than one. I love attending Mass with people who gather to share their hopes, their fears, their thanks and their love. It can be comforting and exhilarating to share an experience with a group. Athletic events and concerts are two examples. Part of the beauty and power of the experience is being united in the event, becoming “one” in sharing in the very human feelings elicited by such an event. Liturgy is the same way. I am sad for those who attend church out of fear of punishment. I attend because it is a free response to God’s overwhelming love and encompassing invitation to express loving gratitude in return for such grace. I want to be in the midst of others who share these feelings.


Blood is life. Ancient people thought blood was the life-force of an animal. We use the analogy of blood to describe devotion, dedication and sacrifice. It is evident in our very vocabulary – to speak of our “sweat and blood” is to say we give our very life, our very essence, to something. In the Eucharist God gives God’s Divine Self to us. It is pure gift (we call that grace!). We respond with the gift of our life, our love, our essence back to God.


We need nourishment, we need to eat. Robert Nozick describes the act of chewing food:

We meet the food in the anteroom of the mouth, And greet it there.
We probe and explore it, surround it, permeate it. We know its texture fully;

It holds no secrets or hidden parts.
Tasting foods is a mode of knowing them in their inner essence.

In Communion, Christ becomes one with us. It is intimacy. There are no secrets nor hidden parts between us. Christ can know our inner essence, and we in turn are invited to experience His inner essence.

“Communion” means “one with.” We become one with the Lord. We take Him in, and He becomes part of us. And, oddly enough, we can become part of Him. I don’t think this happens with other foods. In our Communion there is a mutual exchange. Sometimes, after receiving Communion, I will simply repeat, like a mantra, “One with.” “One with.” “One with.” My Lord comes to me. Letting this sink in, especially after receiving the Eucharist, is awesome!


Further, St. Augustine preaches to his congregation in Sermon 272: “Be what you see, and receive what you are.” Following St. Paul, Augustine makes the connection that we are the Body of Christ! Christ in the Eucharist encounters Christ in our heart. My second-grade self thought Communion was the introduction of holiness into my body, sort of like fueling up at a filling station. There is some truth to this analogy, but a deeper one awaits. God is already alive and operative inside me! There is a connection already established, and (if I may use a technological image) God “downloads” grace into my heart, which, through the presence of Christ, is capable of receiving it. Augustine refers to the heart as the place where I am whoever it is that I am (Confessions, X.5). The Mystery of God communes with the mystery of who I am.

It is my hope and prayer that some of these images may speak to your heart, and lead you to articulate, for yourself, what the Body and Blood of Christ means to you at this point in your life. The solemnity today reaches deep into our hearts and offers Communion with the incredible and eternal Mystery of God’s love.