The Feast of Corpus Christi
A Homily by St. Augustine the Bishop
By the use of meat and drink men seek to attain to this end, namely, that they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more. And yet noting doth truly accomplish this, except that Meat and Drink whereby this corruptible is able to put on incorruption, and this mortal to put on immortality ; namely, the means of Communion with that general assembly and Church of the first-born which is the fellowship of the saints ; which same are kept in perfect peace, and are all one (even as Christ and his Father are one) in full and perfect unity. And therefore it is, (even as men of God before our time have understood it,) that our Lord Jesus Christ hath set before us his Body and his Blood in the likeness of things which, from being many, are reduced into one. That is to say, in one loaf are many grains of corn, and in one cup of wine the juice of many grapes. Hence it is that, in this passage from the Gospel, he now giveth us to know how that which he spake cometh to pass, in answer to the question : How can this man give us his Flesh to eat, and his Blood to drink?
He saith : He that eateth my Flesh, and drinketh my Blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. This, then, is to eat of that Bread and drink of that Cup, to wit: to dwell in him, and to have him dwelling in us. And contrariwise, he which dwelleth not in Christ, and in whom Christ dwelleth not, doth not spiritually eat Christ’s Flesh nor drink his Blood, although he do carnally and visibly press the Sacrament with his teeth ; but rather, such an one eateth and drinketh judgement unto himself, because he dareth to draw nigh unclean to that secret and holy thing of Christ, whereunto none draweth nigh worthily, save he which is clean ; for concerning such it is said : Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
As the living Father hath sent me, (saith he,) and I live by the Father, so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is as though he had said : The Father hath sent me unto the world, and therefore I have humbled myself, and taken upon me the form of a servant, and so was found in fashion as a man ; and as Man I ascribe my life to One that is greater than I ; but the partaking, whereby anyone eateth me, causeth him to live by me; I, having been brought low, live by the Father, but man, having been raised up, shall live by me. And although he saith : I live by the Father : (that is, he is of the Father, not the Father of him ;) these words are no disparagement of the equality of the Father and the Son as God. On the other hand, by saying : He that eateth me, even he shall live by me : he doth not signify equality between him and ourselves, but rather that he is the one Mediator between God and man.
O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament, hast left unto us a Memorial f thyPassion : grant us, we beseech thee, so to venerate the sacred mysteries of they Body and Blood ; that we may ever perceive within ourselves the fruit of thy redemption, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, now and forever. Amen.