Browsing Homilies

Corpus Christi (The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ)

I found it interesting how both the Old and New Testaments speak about Covenant. In our 1st Reading from Exodus, Moses relates to the Israelites all the words and ordinances of the Lord to which they answer with one voice We will do everything the lord had told us. Moses then wrote down everything the lord said and - early the next morning erected an altar at the foot of the mountain so they could offer peace offerings to the Lord. He splashed the blood of a young bull upon the altar and read aloud the covenant to the people to which they again responded We will do everything the Lord has said. Moses then sprinkled blood on the people telling them it was the blood of the covenant the lord made with them that was sprinkled on them reminding them of the blood of the lamb that was put on their door posts so death would pass over them In the New Testament we learn of the blood of the lamb of God that will be shed for us and put on the hearts of all believers so that eternal death passes over them and that all people - will be granted eternal life    


In the Gospel of Mark it is the feast of unleavened bread they are celebrating- the very bread the Israelites had eaten when they sacrificed the Passover lamb before they fled Egypt. Jesus and his disciples prepared a meal in remembrance of the Passover. During the meal Jesus took the bread, said the blessingbroke it and gave it to his disciples saying take it - for this is My body. Then Jesus took the cup gave thanks, gave it to them saying this is My blood of the New Covenant which will be shed for many the lord is speaking to them about his own blood the blood of the lamb of God. He then says Amen I say to you I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the day I drink it in the kingdom of heaven. When Jesus says Amen he is telling us a truth has been declared. Our Amen means - we believe that truth          


Today we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi which is Latin for Body of Christ. When we say Amen we are saying I believe and accept what was just stated as true When we say we think something is true - it suggests an uncertainty When Justin Martyr was about to be put to death the prefect said to him You are a learned man and you think you know what is true teaching. If you are scourged and beheaded do you really have the idea that you will go up to heaven to receive some suitable reward? Justin replied It is not an idea I have it is something I know and hold on to as certain. It is something I believe to be true


When we say Amen, we are affirming what has just been spoken to us - as true. Like Justin Martyr we are certain about how we understand our faith When we say Amen - upon receiving the body of Christ we are making a powerful profession faith because we are stating that we have no doubt we are receiving our lord in Holy Communion. It is not a sign or a symbol but our God made flesh.


The theologian, St. Thomas Aquinas, tells us that since it is the will of God’s only begotten Son that we should share in his divinity, he took on our nature in order that becoming man, he might make men gods. When God took on our flesh, he dedicated the whole of his substance to our salvation. He offered his body to God the Father on the altar of the cross as a sacrifice for our salvation. He shed his blood for our ransom and purification so that we might be redeemed from our state of bondage and cleansed from all sin,


To ensure that the memory of so great a gift would abide with us forever he left his body as food and his blood as drink for the faithful to consume in the form of bread and wine. I wonder how many people realize what an amazing gift our lord has given us. St Thomas in awe professes:


O precious and wonderful Banquet that - brings us salvation and contains all sweetness - could anything be of more intrinsic value? No other Sacrament has greater healing power. Through it sins are purged, virtues are increased, souls are enriched with every spiritual gift. It is offered for the living and the dead so that what was instituted for the salvation of all may be for the benefit of all. (We say it may be for the benefit of all because some people can’t accept this teaching) No one can fully express the sweetness of the Sacrament in which spiritual delight is tasted at its very source and - in which - we renew the memory of this surpassing love Christ has for us. The same love he revealed to us at his passion


It was to - impress the vastness of his love more firmly upon hearts of the faithful - that our Lord instituted this Sacrament at the last supper, as he was at the point of leaving this world to go to his father; After celebrating the feast of Passover with his disciples he left us his body and blood as a perpetual memorial of his passion and as a unique and abiding consolation. He left us the ability to receive him in Holy Communion where we will always be united with him. Do you ever think about becoming united with Jesus when you receive him in Holy communion? My first understanding of what it meant to be united with Jesus in holy communion came from witnessing my mother’s reception of holy communion. I was only about five years old because I remember standing on the kneeler and I also remember I hadn’t received my first holy communion.


My mom just received holy communion and put her head down as she prayed. She would always cover her eyes with her hands after she received communion. I went over to see what she was doing and I remember putting my hands on hers as if to pull them away when I asked her:  What are you doing? and she said to me I’m talking to Jesus. I then I asked her: What are you saying to him, and she said I’m telling him that I love him. Then she reached over and had me slide down the pew and continued to pray. I always remember her words, when she said I’m talking to Jesus and I’m telling him that I love him. There was no question in my mind that my mother believed she received Jesus in holy communion. There was no question in my mind when she said Amen - she knew it was Our Lord and God.   


It didn’t stop there. My mom would talk to us about her faith and the saints when we were at home. She had religious images of Jesus and the holy family through-out the house. Jesus was real for us - In order for our Church to become strong again we have to have that same conviction and courage and boldness our grand parents had - or our children won’t say with confidence I’m receiving Jesus in holy communion.  If that seed isn’t planted in us at an early age, we are going to find ourselves believing that every church affiliation is the same. It is true we believe in the same God but they don’t receive him in the holy Eucharist or have the same understanding in the sacraments as we do especially in reconciliation and the anointing of the sick 


The Vatican II documents refer to the Eucharist as the source and summit of our faith. As Catholics we have the opportunity to receive Jesus in holy communion every day. When I was at St Bernard parish in Appleton as an associate pastor, I asked Fr. Janssen if I could have off to attend the ordination of a friend of mine on the weekend of corpus Christi. He did grant me permission but he also said that in the future I should always try to offer mass that day in the parish and speak about the true presence of Jesus in the eucharist because 40% of all Catholics don’t believe they actually receive Jesus’ body and blood in holy communion. 


When Jesus tells his followers in Johns Gospel in Chapter 6 unless you eat of my body and drink of my blood you will not have life in you we are told many people left Jesus that day saying these words are heard to believe. Jesus then turns to his apostles and asks them, Are you going to leave me too?  Peter responds Lord, where would we go? You have the words of eternal life, We have come to believe and are convinced You are the holy one of God.  Always remember when Jesus said Amen: I say to you, He was saying: Trust n what I’m saying to you. Allow me to guide you throughout your lives


Today we honor our graduates and as our graduates set out into the world they need to have confidence in what they believe. Perhaps they can refer to the words of Solomon who said Trust in the lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own prudence in other words don’t rely on just your own ability to govern and discipline yourselves by your own reason or judgement but look to the Lord to lead you and He will guide your steps. Solomon also states that the name of the lord is like a solid tower. No one can penetrate it, whenever the just man seeks refuge in it, he will be saved Therefore let us stand fast - to what is right and allow the lord your God to lead you. Have faith in God and know that he will be with you always. There are many roads ahead of us to choose from We need to choose the road that leads to eternal life


Mother Theresa wrote a “reflection of life” and I would like to use her words as an encouragement - for our graduates as they look at the journey that lies ahead


Life is an opportunity benefit from it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a challenge meet it, Life is a duty complete it Life is a game, play it. Life is a promise - fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it  Life is a song - sing it. Life is a struggle - accept it. Life is a tragedy - confront it. Life is an adventure - dare it Life is luck - make it. Life is too precious - do not destroy it; Life is life - fight for it . May God bless our Graduates as they begin their - life’s - journey,  to which I say - Amen - as I believe in them in their future. 


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