Corpus Christi Sunday – Sister Ifeoma Okpala, SNDdeN

Jun 7, 2023 | Gospel Reflections

June 11, 2023

John 6: 51-58

Two incidents came to my mind as I prepared to share my reflection on the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. The first incident was a few years ago when I came across a postcard depicting the image of hands breaking bread. The back of the postcard has this saying of St. Julie Billiart, “You know we must share the little pieces of bread God gives us in his goodness (St. Julie, Letters Vol 5).

The second incident was a comedy on the Last Supper. In that comedy, Jesus offered the apostles bread (his body) to eat. Peter was the first to take a little piece. However, the next apostle cut almost half of the bread not minding what is left for the rest. The third snatched the entire bread from Jesus’ hand and ate it greedily and rudely. Jesus’ expression showed great shock and disappointment, that the two grabbed the bread without any sense of appreciation and consideration. He then pronounced that if that’s how they would eat his body, that he was no longer ready to sacrifice himself. This is just a comedy. As we already know, Jesus gave his flesh for the life of the world.

These two encounters made a deep impression on me and we can draw many lessons from them. Let us now turn to a few of the inspirations I gained as I reflected on the two events.

Firstly, from the image of the bread being broken, it struck me that as the bread is being broken, some crumbs would fall on the ground which can be trampled upon. Bread can be eaten by all kinds of human beings; good and bad alike. It is chewed to the extent that it dissolves in the mouth before it can be swallowed. The caption on the postcard highlights the fact that the bread is meant to be shared, no matter how little it is.

What does this bread signify? Perhaps, it could mean your life, talents, gifts, knowledge, smiles, kind words, spiritual and material endowments, and a host of other little and big privileges and opportunities that you enjoy personally.

“The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (John 6:51). In his goodness, Jesus gave himself to us unreservedly that we might enjoy fullness of life. He expects us to do the same for the life of our brothers and sisters. Moreover, He was not selective of who eats his body and drinks his blood. It is for everyone; for those who denied and betrayed him, for the rich and the poor, worthy and unworthy. In the Eucharist, we continue to break the bread, eat, chew thoroughly and swallow with nothing left. It seems scary to imagine oneself being eaten or consumed by another. Nevertheless, the bread that we are invited to share can signify anything that we can offer or contribute to better the life of others (“For the life of the world”). This sharing may demand sacrifice and some discomfort. We may be required to make certain sacrifice that might inconvenience us. We can never really share our lives meaningfully with others without experiencing some form of vulnerability.

What does it mean for you to be eaten and drunk? What is God calling you at this point in your life to give as your flesh for the life of others? Do you consider yourself ready and willing to be consumed for the nourishment and sustenance of others, including your family members, friends, strangers, even those who do not deserve your love?  To what extent have you allowed yourself to be broken, trampled upon, inconvenienced and stretched for the good of others and for the greater glory of God? Have you been broken enough?

May Jesus give us the courage to live by his example. Amen.


John 6: 51-58

Jesus said to the crowds: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

The Gospel of the Lord



Meet Sister Ifeoma Okpala, SNDdeN

Sr Ifeoma hails from Nigeria. She trained as a teacher before joining the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur on 4th September 1998. She made her first religious profession in 2001 and her perpetual vows in 2009. Sr. Ifeoma has been involved in various apostolates as a teacher, head teacher, coordinator of parish catechesis, aspirant coordinator, assistant novice directress and novice directress, for seven years. She has been involved in the admission process of aspirants in the area of interviews both within and outside her congregation since 2010 till the present. Sr Ifeoma is also a trained Psycho-Spiritual Therapist/Counsellor. Presently, she is the coordinator of the sisters in initial commitment (temporary professed sisters) in Nigeria Unit as well as the director of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Spirituality Centre, Jattu-Uzairue, Edo State, Nigeria. At present, her work includes, psycho-spiritual therapy/ counselling, retreat guide, parish marriage counselling and facilitation of workshops, among others. Sr. Ifeoma is grateful to God for the joys and renewal that these ministries bring to her.