The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ [A] (June 14) –one page summary
Importance: 1) The two, last, precious gifts given to us by Jesus are the Holy Eucharist as our spiritual Food and Drink on Holy Thursday and Jesus’ mother Mary as our mother on Good Friday. 2) Corpus Christi is the celebration of the abiding presence of the loving God as Emmanuel – God-with-us – in order to give collective thanks to our Lord living with us in the Eucharist. 3) The feast gives us an occasion to learn more about the importance and value of his “Real Presence,” so that we may appreciate the Sacrament better and receive maximum benefit from receiving Jesus in Holy Communion.
We believe in the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist because 1) Jesus promised it after miraculously feeding the 5000. 2) Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist during his Last Supper. 3) Jesus commanded his disciples to repeat it in his memory. 4) “Nothing is impossible for God.”
We explain the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist by: “transubstantiation” which means that the substance of the offered bread and wine is changed by Consecration to the substance of the risen Jesus’ glorified, Body and Blood by the action of the Holy Spirit, and its accidents or appearances (like color, shape, smell, taste etc.), remain the same.
Scripture lessons summarized: 1) In the first reading, Dt 8:2-3, 14b-16a, Moses instructs the Israelites to “remember and not forget” the miraculous provision of food in the manna given to them to save their lives in the desert. The Church, through the Holy Mass, remembers and re-presents the Sacramental meal (Last Supper) and Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary sealed by the Father as acceptable by granting him Resurrection. In the second reading, Paul reminds the Corinthians that the Bread they share is the real Body of Christ, which makes their community also the Body of the risen Christ. In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus identifies himself as “the Living Bread that came down from Heaven,” thus linking himself with the manna in the wilderness, while assuring his disciples that, unlike those who ate manna, “One who eats this Bread will live forever.”
A Sacrament and a sacrifice: Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist both as a sacramental banquet and a sacrificial offering. As a Sacrament a) the Eucharist is a visible sign that gives us God’s grace and God’s life and b) as a meal it nourishes our souls. As a sacrifice a) the Eucharistic celebration is a re-presentation or re-enactment of Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary, completed in His Resurrection. b) We offer Jesus’ sacrifice to God the Father for the remission of our sins, using signs and symbols.
Life messages: 1) Let us appreciate the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, by receiving him with true repentance for our sins, due preparation and reverence.
2) Let us be Christ-bearers and -conveyers: By receiving Holy Communion, we become Christ-bearers as Mary was, with the duty of conveying Christ to others, at home and in the workplace, through love, mercy, forgiveness and humble and sacrificial service.
3) Let us offer our lives on the altar along with Jesus’ sacrifice, asking pardon for our sins, expressing gratitude for the blessings we have received and presenting our needs and petitions on the altar.
THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST [A] (CORPUS CHRISTI) Dt 8:2-3,14b-16a; I Cor 10:16-17 Jn 6:51-58)
Homily Starter Anecdotes: # 1: Holy Communion in outer space: Astronaut Mike Hopkins is one of the selected few: he spent six months on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2013. And though he was thrilled when he was chosen for a space mission, there was one Person he didn’t want to leave behind: Jesus in the Eucharist. Hopkins had been received into the Church less than a year before his launch. After a long wait, he was finally able to receive Our Lord at each Mass. Facing the prospect of being off the planet for half a year, he decided he had to find out if Jesus could travel with him. It turns out he could — and he did. Hopkins says, “In 2011, I got assigned to a mission to the International Space Station. I was going to go up and spend six months in space, starting in 2013. So, I started asking the question, ’Is there any chance I can take the Eucharist up with me into space?’ The weekend before I left for Russia — we launch on a Russian rocket from Kazakhstan — I went to Mass one last time, and [the priest with permission from his bishop] consecrated the wafers into the Body of Christ, and I was able to take the pyx with me. NASA has been great. … They didn’t have any reservations about me taking the Eucharist up or to practicing my Faith in orbit. The Russians were amazing. I went in with all my personal items, and I explained what the pyx was and the meaning of it to me — because for them, they, of course, saw it just as bread, if you will, the wafers — and yet for me [I knew] it was the Body of Christ. And they completely understood and said, “Okay, we’ll estimate it weighs this much, and no problem. You can keep it with you.” All these doors opened up, and I was able to take the Eucharist up — and I was able to have Communion, basically, every week. There were a couple of times when I received Communion on, I’ll say, special occasions: I did two spacewalks; so, on the morning of both of those days, when I went out for the spacewalk, I had Communion. It was really helpful for me to know that Jesus was with me when I went out the hatch into the vacuum of space. And then I received my last Communion on my last day on orbit in the ‘Cupola, ’which is this large window that looks down at the Earth, and that was a very special moment before I came home.” (http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/what-is-it-like-to-receive-the-eucharist-in-space). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
# 2: Eucharistic celebration in the second century One of the most important of the Greek philosopher-Apologists in the early Christian church, Justin Martyr, in his writings, represents one of the first positive encounters of Christian revelation with Greek philosophy; his writings provide the basis for a theology of history. Of the Eucharistic Celebration he says, “No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of Baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ. We do not consume the Eucharistic Bread and Wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught that as Jesus Christ our Savior became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so also the Food that our flesh and blood assimilates for its nourishment becomes the Flesh and Blood of the Incarnate Jesus by the power of His own words contained in the prayer of thanksgiving. The apostles, in their recollections which are called Gospels, handed down to us what Jesus commanded them to do. They tell us that He took bread, gave thanks and said: Do this in memory of me. This is my Body. In the same way He took the cup, He gave thanks and said: This is my Blood. The Lord gave this command to them alone. Ever since then we have constantly reminded one another of these things. The rich among us help the poor and we are always united. For all that we receive, we praise the Creator of the universe through his Son, Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Spirit. On Sunday we have a common assembly of all our members, whether they live in the city or the outlying districts. The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us; he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings. Then we all stand up together and pray. On the conclusion of our prayer, bread and wine and water are brought forward. The president offers prayers and gives thanks to the best of his ability, and the people give assent by saying, “Amen.” The eucharist is distributed, everyone present communicates, and the deacons take it to those who are absent. The wealthy, if they wish, may make a contribution, and they themselves decide the amount. The collection is placed in the custody of the president, who uses it to help the orphans and widows and all who for any reason are in distress, whether because they are sick, in prison, or away from home. In a word, he takes care of all who are in need. We hold our common assembly on Sunday because it is the first day of the week, the day on which God put darkness and chaos to flight and created the world, and because on that same day our Savior Jesus Christ rose from the dead. For he was crucified on Friday and on Sunday he appeared to his apostles and disciples and taught them the things that we have passed on for your consideration. (Office of Readings in the Breviary for Easter III Sunday. [Taken from the first apology in defense of the Christians by Saint Justin Martyr, Cap. 66-67: PB 6, 427-431; St. Justin, Martyr was born ca 100, Flavia Neapolis, Palestine, now called Nāblus. During the reign of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, he was arrested and tried; “he openly confessed his Faith, refused to sacrifice to the gods … was scourged and beheaded with six other Christians”1 in Rome, Italy, ca 165. His feast is celebrated June 1. 1Richard C. McBrien, Lives of the Saints: From Mary and St. Francis of Assisi to John XXIII and Mother Teresa (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2001), p. 222-2 ]. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
# 3: The greatest work of art in St. Peter’s Basilica: “One of the seminarians who gives tours of St. Peter’s told me of an interesting incident. He was leading a group of Japanese tourists who knew absolutely nothing of our Faith. With particular care he explained the great masterpieces of art, sculpture and architecture. He finally concluded at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel trying his best to explain quickly what it was. As the group dispersed, an elderly man, who had been particularly attentive stayed behind, and said, ‘Pardon me. Would you explain again this “Blessed Sacrament?’ Our student did, after which the man exclaimed, ‘Ah, if this is so, what is in this chapel is a greater work of art than anything else in this basilica.’” [Msgr. Timothy M Dolan in Priests of the Third Millennium, (2000) p. 226.] Today’s feast of Corpus Christi is intended to make us value and appreciate the worth of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
# 4: Communion on the moon: The Lord’s Supper ensures that we can remember Jesus from any place. Apollo 11 landed on the moon on Sunday, July 20, 1969. Most remember astronaut Neil Armstrong’s first words as he stepped onto the moon’s surface: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” But few know about the first meal eaten on the moon. Dennis Fisher reports that Buzz Aldrin, the NASA Astronaut had taken aboard the spacecraft a tiny pyx provided by his Catholic pastor. (It was probably after his second marriage, that he became a Presbyterian (http://www.snopes.com/glurge/communion.asp). Aldrin sent a radio broadcast to Earth asking listeners to contemplate the events of the day and give thanks. Then, blacking out the broadcast for privacy, Aldrin read, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit.” Then, silently, he gave thanks for their successful journey to the moon and received Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, surrendering moon to Jesus. Next, he descended on the moon and walked on it with Neil Armstrong. [Dan Gulley: “Communion on the Moon”: Our Daily Bread (June/July/August 2007).] His actions remind us that in the Lord’s Supper, God’s children can share the life of Jesus from any place on Earth — and even from the moon. God is everywhere, and our worship should reflect this reality. In Psalm 139 we are told that wherever we go, God is intimately present with us. Buzz Aldrin celebrated that experience on the surface of the moon. Thousands of miles from earth, he took time to commune with the One who created, redeemed, and established fellowship with him. (Dennis Fisher) http://www.smithvillechurch.org/html/body_remembering_jesus_on_the_moon.html) &(https://www.rbc.org/devotionals/our-daily-bread/2007/07/20/devotion.aspx)
(Notes: Buzz Aldrin Catholic or Presbyterian???? Dear Fr. Tony, I read your anecdote ‘Communion on the Moon’ with some amusement. Buzz Aldrin was Roman Catholic. He was an altar server to an uncle of mine Fr. Dennis Barry in St. Martin’s Church, La Mesa, California. My uncle said Mass in his hotel room with Buzz as the altar server the day before his trip to the Moon, and I have photographs of that Mass with Buzz holding the wine and water at the Offertory. My uncle gave Buzz the Body of Christ to take to the Moon with him and that was his first ‘meal on the moon’. I later met Buzz Aldrin at my uncle’s funeral in La Mesa in 1986. So, Buzz was not a Presbyterian. Thank you for your splendid service and keep up the good work. God Bless. Fr. Eddie Collins. The Presbytery, O’Rahilly Street, Clonakilty, Co Cork, email@example.com)) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
Introduction: The feast and its objectives: Today, we celebrate the solemn feast of Corpus Christi. This Solemnity is three feasts in one: the feast of the Eucharistic sacrifice, the feast of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and the feast of the Real Presence of Jesus in this Sacrament. Corpus Christi is a doctrinal feast established for three purposes: 1) to give God collective thanks for Christ’s abiding presence with us in the Eucharist and to honor Him there; 2) to instruct the people in the Mystery, Faith and devotion surrounding the Eucharist, and 3) to teach us to appreciate and make use of the great gift of the Holy Eucharist, both as a Sacrament and as a sacrifice. In the three-year cycle of the Sunday liturgy, there is a different theme each year for this Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. In Cycle A the theme is the Eucharist as our food and drink; in Cycle B the emphasis is on the Eucharist as the sign of the covenant; and in Cycle C the theme focuses on the priesthood of Jesus. Although we celebrate the institution of the Holy Eucharist on Holy Thursday, the Church wants to emphasize its importance by a special feast, formerly called “Corpus Christi.” It was Pope Urban IV who first extended the feast to the universal Church. This is one of the few feasts left in which we observe a pre-Gospel procession and a sung “Sequence.”
The historical development: Today’s celebration of the Body and Blood of the Lord originated in the Diocese of Liege, Belgium, in 1246 as the feast of Corpus Christi. In the reforms of Vatican II, Corpus Christi was joined with the feast of the Precious Blood (July 1) to become the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord. We celebrate today Christ’s gift to us of the Eucharist, the Source and Summit of our life together as the Church. The Council of Trent (1545 to 1563), declared that we must honor Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Faith of Catholics in the Most Holy Eucharist [that others] might be attracted to the Eucharistic Lord and believe in the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, present in this great Sacrament. “The Catholic Church teaches that in the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of the God-man are really, truly, substantially, and abidingly present together with His soul and Divinity by reason of the Transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. This takes place in the unbloody sacrifice of the Mass.”
The Biblical foundation: Our belief in this Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist derives from the literal interpretation of the promise of Christ to give us his Body and Blood for our spiritual food and drink, as found in St. John’s Gospel, Chapter 6, and also in the four independent accounts of the fulfillment of this promise at the Last Supper (Mt 26; Mk 14; Lk 22; 1 Cor 11). Eucharistic theologians explain the Real Presence by a process called transubstantiation: the entire substance of bread and wine is changed into the entire substance of the risen and glorified Body and Blood of Christ, retaining only the “accidents” (taste, color, shape) of bread and wine. Can there be a religion in which God is closer to man than our Catholic Christianity? Jesus does not believe that he is humiliating himself in coming to us and giving himself to us in his Flesh and Blood to be our spiritual Food.
The first reading (Dt 8:2-3, 14b-16a) explained: The setting of today’s first reading is near the end of the Exodus from Egypt when the people are at last about to enter their long-promised new homeland. Moses realizes that the coming, sudden change from hardship to comfort and security may dull the people and make them forgetful of the Lord on whom they depend. Therefore, he tells them, “Remember,” and “Do not forget,” referring to the manna that the Lord had miraculously provided for them earlier. The Church chooses this reading for today because we see in the manna a prototype of the Eucharist. But we do not read directly from this “manna narrative” (Exodus 16), for today’s feast. Rather, we are enjoined “not to forget,” and “to remember.” That is what we do when we celebrate the Eucharist. We remember Jesus’ self-gift at the Last Supper and on the Cross. God has endowed this act with the power to make the remembered events present to us again. In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 147), the Psalmist takes up the theme of God’s providential care and His close association with His people.
The second reading: (1 Cor 10:16-17) explained: The Corinthian Christians were apparently ill-mannered and rude in their celebration of the Lord’s Supper. So, Paul was trying to make them behave in a more Christ-like fashion. Paul was also clearly distinguishing the Eucharist from the ritual meals of some pagan groups known to the Corinthians. For Paul, “the Body of Christ” can have two meanings: the Body of Christ that we share in the Eucharist and the Body of Christ that we form as the community of believers, united with the risen Christ. Paul extended this union with Jesus to include union with all believers. As Paul says, “the cup of blessing is a sharing in the Blood of Christ, and the bread we break is a sharing in the Body of Christ.” The language is mystical, but it carries the meaning of the union of all believers with Jesus and thus with one another. “Because there is one Bread, we who are many are one Body because we all partake of the one Bread” (1 Cor 10: -17).
Today’s Gospel passage (Jn 6:51-58) explained: This passage is situated in the context of what is sometimes called Jesus’ Eucharistic discourse. These verses constitute the ending of the “Bread of Life Discourse” (John 6:22-58), given at the synagogue in Capernaum where Jesus identified himself as “the living Bread that came down from Heaven,” thus linking himself with the manna in the wilderness. The Eucharistic discourse is a teaching about the Lord’s providential care for his faithful followers, describing Jesus’ promises to the Jewish crowd that He would give them his Body and Blood as their spiritual food and drink. The reference in today’s passage to the manna in the desert alludes to the care of God for His people during the years of their desert wandering. The manna God provided and the water He gave sustained their natural life at the time. Eventually, however, they died. But Jesus claimed that he was the true Bread come down from Heaven to give everlasting Life. “One who eats this Bread will live forever” (John 6:58). Our participation in the Eucharist concretizes and energizes our relationships with Christ and one another. The process of eating and ingesting the Bread is the sign of our belief in the Word Who thus gives Himself to us, and through Whom we thus receive eternal life. The separate mention of “flesh” and “blood” symbolizes theologically Jesus’ redemptive death for all people.
Exegetical notes: Theological significance: Vatican II states that as a sacrifice, “the Holy Eucharist is the center and culmination of Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, 11). Why? 1) because it enables us to participate in Christ’s sacrifice as a present reality and to benefit from its fruits in our own lives; 2) because it helps us to worship the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the most perfect way; 3) because it strengthens our charity and unity with Jesus and with each other in a joint offering of his Body and Blood to the Father; and 4) because it gives us a lasting memorial of Christ’s suffering, death and Resurrection, reminding us of our obligation to make loving sacrifices for others. The Eucharist is the Mystery of our Faith, the Mystery of our Hope, the Mystery of our Charity. Why do we celebrate the Eucharist some 2,000 years later? We do this because Jesus told us to do so: “Do this in memory of me.” St. Augustine in the 5th century AD said it best when he said: “It is your Mystery, the Mystery of your life that has been placed on the altar.” This Holy Memorial is known by various names: 1) “The Eucharist” because Jesus offered himself to God the Father as an act of thanksgiving; 2) “The Lord’s Supper” — or “The Breaking of the Bread”– because we celebrate it as a meal; 3) “Holy Communion” because, we become one with Christ by receiving him; and 4) “Holy Mass” (holy sending), because it gives us a mission: “Go in peace glorifying God by your life.”
Jesus replaces the Old Covenant with the New Covenant: Jesus instituted the Eucharist in deliberate allusion to, and fulfillment of, what happened on Mount Sinai. He replaced Moses as the God-chosen mediator, establishing the New Covenant promised through the prophet Jeremiah (Jer 31:31-34), by using His own Blood rather than that of sacrificial animals. By sacramentally consuming the Body and Blood of the God-Man, we, the final-age people of God, are interiorly transformed through the most perfect possible union with God. Jesus creates a faithful people intimately united with God by means of his Sacramental Body and Blood.
The Jewish Passover is transformed into the Eucharistic celebration: Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist while eating the Passover meal, the feast on which the Jews still gather annually to commemorate their ancestors’ deliverance from Egyptian slavery. This foundational event began the night God “passed over” the Israelites while punishing their oppressors, who had resisted His will. Israel was “saved through the blood” of sacrificial lambs sprinkled on doorways. (There are some modern Bible scholars who doubt whether Jesus’ Last Supper was strictly a Passover meal because many items of the Passover meal are not mentioned). In the second half of today’s Gospel, Jesus’ words and gestures are understood as mediating the fullness of salvation through Blood that would be his own. That night he offered “the Blood of the (New) Covenant,” as Blood to be drunk rather than sprinkled. Moreover, since it was his own, this Blood needed no further identification with God by splashing against an altar. Finally, the Blood was “to be poured out on behalf of the many (a Semitism for ‘all’).” Thus, the new and perfect Paschal Lamb accomplished for people of every nation what Mosaic sacrifices only imperfectly achieved for the Jews. The giving of both “Body” and “Blood” establishes the context of Jesus’ sacrificial death, a New Covenant sealed with his Blood.
The Sacrament and the sacrifice: Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist during the Last Supper as a Sacramental banquet and a sacrificial offering. As a Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist is an outward sign in and through which we meet Jesus who shares his life of grace with us. “In the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, the Body and Blood, together with the soul and Divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ, is truly, really, and substantially contained” (CCC #1374). In this Sacrament of the Eucharist, we do meet Jesus, the Risen Lord who comes to us under signs of Bread and Wine to nourish and strengthen us for our journey through life. The Eucharistic Meal is a great mystery because during the Eucharistic celebration, the substance of bread and wine are converted into the substance of the risen Jesus’ Body and Blood, while their appearances (or ’accidents’) remain. We believe in this transformation of bread and wine (called Transubstantiation), because Jesus unequivocally taught it and authorized his apostles to repeat it. As a Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist imparts to us Jesus’ abiding presence in our souls. In addition, we share in his Divine life, which is an assurance of eternal life and the basis for the conviction that we are children of God the Father. God shares His life with Jesus and with all other people. The Eucharist is the Sacrament of our union with Jesus. In this Sacrament, Jesus gives us his own Body, broken for us on the cross and his precious Blood poured out for us, in order that our sins may be forgiven. The Eucharistic celebration is also a sacrifice because it is the re-presentation or re-living, in an unbloody manner, of Christ’s Death on Good Friday, and of his Resurrection on Easter Sunday. By means of signs, symbols, and prayers, we share in Christ’s passion, death, and Resurrection made really present for us in an unbloody manner. This re-presenting, this re-living, of the One Sacrifice of Christ, which is the heart and point of every Mass, assures us of Jesus’ love for us and of his forgiveness of our sins. Through this sacrifice, the risen Jesus becomes present on the altar, offering himself to the Father through the ministry of the priest.
The theology of “substance” and “accidents” in the consecrated host and wine: The Council of Trent (1545-1563) did not use the word accident but “species” (appearances) when referring to the Eucharistic change. Substance is the basic reality of bread as opposed to the appearances. Trent’s doctrine is presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC #1376): “The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: ‘Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.’” Therefore, Trent defines that the bread and wine ceases to be bread and wine, although what we directly perceive, the appearances, remain the same, so that there is no perceptible change. When speaking of the, species (appearances, or accidents}, the Church does not refer just to what is visible but to all that could in any way be experienced as external aspects of bread and wine such as touch, taste, size and smell. It also embraces the effects that bread and wine have on the body. (For details, visit : https://zenit.org/articles/liturgy-q-a-on-transubstantiation/) & U.S. Bishps’ website article: http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/the-mass/order-of-mass/liturgy-of-the-eucharist/the-real-presence-of-jesus-christ-in-the-sacrament-of-the-eucharist-basic-questions-and-answers.cfm
Life Messages: 1) We need to receive this message of unity and sacrificial love: The Eucharist, (the Body and Blood of Christ), teaches us the importance of community, the bond that results from this sacrifice. St. John Chrysostom says: “What is the Bread actually? The Body of Christ. What do communicants become? The Body of Christ. Just as the bread comes from many grains, which remain themselves and are not distinguished from one another because they are united, so we are united with Christ.” Just as numerous grains of wheat are pounded together to make the host, and many grapes are crushed together to make the wine, so we become unified in this sacrifice. Our Lord chose these elements in order to show us that we ought to seek union with one another, to allow the Holy Spirit to transform us into Our Lord Jesus Christ and to work with Him in the process. Christ is the Head and we are the Body. Together we are one. That which unites us is our willingness to sacrifice our time, talents, and treasure as needed to God in our fellow members in Christ’s Mystical Body. This is symbolized by our sharing in the same Bread and the same Cup. Hence, Holy Communion should strengthen our sense
of the Holy Eucharist, the Bread, Body of Christ, is “blessed, broken and given. “We also must be prepared to be ‘taken, blessed, broken and given’. That is the sacrifice
expected from us. (J. V.).
2) We need to prepare properly to receive Holy Communion: We have tarnished God’s image within us through acts of impurity, injustice, disobedience, and the like. Hence, there is always need for repentance, and a need for the Sacramental confession of grave sins, before we receive Holy Communion. We should remember the warning given by St. Paul: “Whoever, therefore, eats the Bread or drinks the Cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the Body and Blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the Bread and drink of the Cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the Body, eat and drink judgment against themselves.” [1 Cor 11:27-9]. Hence, let us receive Holy Communion with fervent love and respect — not merely as a matter of routine. St. Paul is speaking also of the Mystical Body of Christ, i.e., the people of God gathered at the altar. Such a union, plainly, means that our outward piety towards the consecrated Bread and Wine cannot coexist with rudeness, unkindness, slander, cruelty, gossiping or any other breach of charity toward our brothers and sisters.
3) We need to become Christ-bearers and -conveyers: By receiving Holy Communion we become Christ-bearers as Mary was, with the duty of conveying Christ to others at home and in the workplace, as love, mercy, forgiveness and humble and sacrificial service.
As we celebrate this great feast of Faith, let us worship what St. Thomas Aquinas did not hesitate to call, “the greatest miracle that Christ ever worked on earth … My Body … My Blood“. Before the greatness of this mystery, let us exclaim with St. Augustine, “O Sacrament of devotion! O Sign of unity! O Bond of charity!” Let us also repeat St. Thomas Aquinas’ prayer of devotion in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament: “O Sacrament most holy! O Sacrament Divine! All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine!”
Jokes of the week : Do you think two cases of whiskey are enough?” There was to be a Baptismal party for the new baby of a soldier and his wife at their home on an Army base. Before the ceremony the chaplain took the new father aside. “Are you prepared for this solemn event?” he asked. “I guess so,” replied the soldier. “I’ve got two hams, pickles, bread, cake, cookies…” “No, no!” interrupted the chaplain. “I mean spiritually prepared!” “Well, I don’t know,” said the soldier thoughtfully. “Do you think two cases of whiskey are enough?” Beyond all that we hunger for physically, is our hunger for spiritual nourishment. Sometimes people aren’t even aware that this exists. But Jesus realized this hunger and instituted the Holy Eucharist to feed our starving souls.
(Harold Buetow in “God Still Speaks: Listen!”)
USEFUL WEBSITES ON THE HOLY EUCHARIST
4) USCCB – (Liturgy) – Resources for the Year of the Eucharist
33 Additional anecdotes
1)The priest and the skeptic: Here is an interesting story that illustrates the skepticism of an unbeliever with regards to the Eucharist and the tremendous wisdom that a believer draws from it. A man came to a priest and wanted to make fun of his faith, so he asked, “How can bread and wine turn into the Body and Blood of Christ?” The priest answered, “No problem. You yourself change food into your body and blood, so why can’t Christ do the same?” But the objector did not give up. He asked, “But how can the entire Christ be in such a small host?” “In the same way that the vast landscape before you can fit into your little eye. ” But he still persisted, “How can the same Christ be present in all your churches at the same time?” The priest then took a mirror and let the man look into it. Then let the mirror fall to the ground and broke it and said to the skeptic, “There is only one of you and yet you can find your face reflected in each piece of that broken mirror at the same time.” (Lectio Divina). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
2) “All we really need in our convent is the Tabernacle.” The former archbishop of San Francisco, John Quinn, loves to tell the story of the arrival of Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity to open their house in the city. Poor Archbishop Quinn had gone to great efforts to make sure that their convent was, while hardly opulent, quite comfortable. He recalls how Mother Teresa arrived and immediately ordered the carpets removed, the telephones, except for one, pulled out of the wall, the beds, except for the mattresses taken away, and on and on. Explained Mother Teresa to the baffled archbishop, “All we really need in our convent is the tabernacle” [Msgr. Timothy M. Dolan in Priests of the Third Millennium (2000), p. 218.] Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
3) The Eucharistic piety that converted St. Elizabeth Ann Seton: Two hundred years ago, a beautiful, young, Episcopalian woman accompanied her husband, a merchant, to Italy, leaving four of their five children at home with family members. They had sailed for Italy, hoping that the change in climate might help her husband, whose failing business had eventually affected his health adversely. Tragically, he died in Liverno. The grieving young widow was warmly received by an Italian family, business acquaintances of her deceased husband. She stayed with them for three months before she could arrange to return to America. The young widow was very impressed by the Catholic Faith of her host family, especially their devotion to the Holy Eucharist: their frequent attendance at Mass, the reverence with which they received Holy Communion, the awe they showed toward the Blessed Sacrament on feast days when the Eucharist was carried in procession. She found her broken heart healed by a hunger for this mysterious Presence of the Lord, and, upon returning home, requested instruction in Catholic Faith. Soon after being received into the Church, she described her first reception of the Lord in the Eucharist as the happiest moment of her life. It was in St. Peter’s Square on September 14, 1975, that Pope St. Paul VI canonized this woman, Elizabeth Ann Seton, as the first native-born saint of the Unites States. The Eucharist for her was a sign and cause of union with God and the Church. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
4) “I will not permit Christ to return to Albania as long as I am in charge.” Mother Teresa was given a reception by the cruel Communist dictator, Enver Hoxha, who ruled Albania for 40 years from 1945 to 1985. He imposed atheism as the official religion in 1967. The possession of a Bible or cross often meant a ten-year prison term. Welcoming Mother Teresa in 1985, he stated that he appreciated her world-wide works of charity, and then added, “But I will not permit Christ to return to Albania as long as I am in charge.” In her reply after thanking the president for the reception Mother said, “Mr. President, you are wrong. I have brought not only the love of Christ into my native land but also the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist right into your presidential palace. I am allowed to carry Jesus in a pyx during my visit of this Communist country where public worship is a crime. I keep Jesus in the consecrated host in my pocket. Jesus will surely return to this country very soon.” Communist rule collapsed in Albania in 1992, and Christians and Muslims reopened their Churches and mosques for worship. The non-Communist president of Albania, Mr. Ramiz Alia, awarded Albanian citizenship to Mother Teresa during her visit to her liberated home country in 1992. Mr. Alia also created a “Mother Teresa Prize” to be awarded to those who distinguished themselves in the field of humanitarian and charitable work. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
5) Blessed Imelda, the Patron saint of First Communicants: Blessed Imelda Lambertini had a remarkable experience of this love. She lived in Bologna, Italy, in the 1300s. She had wanted to be a nun from the time she was a little girl, and she joined that Dominican convent at the age of nine, to better prepare herself for the day when she would take the habit. Her greatest desire was to receive Holy Communion, but in those days, you had to be at least twelve-years-old to do so. Imelda begged for an exception to the rule, but the chaplain refused. She kept praying for special permission. Her prayers were miraculously answered on the Feast of the Ascension in 1333. After Mass, she stayed in her place in the chapel, where one of the nuns was putting away the sacred vessels. Suddenly, the nun heard a noise and turned towards Imelda. Hovering in mid-air in front of Imelda as she knelt in prayer was a sacred host, the Blessed Eucharist, shining with a bright and forceful light. The frightened nun ran to find the chaplain. By the time the chaplain arrived, the rest of the nuns and other onlookers had crowded, awe-struck, into the chapel. When the priest saw the shining, hovering host, he put on his vestments, went over to the girl, took the miraculous host in his hands, and gave her Holy Communion. Some minutes later, after the crowd had dispersed, the mother superior came over to Imelda to call her for breakfast. She found the girl still kneeling, with a smile on her face. But Imelda was dead. She had died of love, in ecstasy after receiving Christ in the Eucharist. He had longed to be with her even more than she had longed to be with him. Blessed Imelda’s body is incorrupt, and you can still see it today in the Church where she is interred, in Bologna. She is the patron saintof First Holy Communicants.(E-Priest). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
6) “Jesus Christ gave a lasting memorial!”: One of his Catholic disciples asked the controversial godman Osho Rajneesh about the difference between Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, and Jesus Christ. Rajneesh told a story to distinguish between Buddha and Christ. When Buddha was on his deathbed, his disciple Anand asked him for a memorial and Buddha gave him a Jasmine flower. But as the flower dried up, the memory of Buddha also dwindled. Jesus Christ, however, instituted a lasting memorial (without anybody’s asking for it), by offering to God his Body and Blood under the appearances of bread and wine and commanding his disciples to share his Divinity by repeating the ceremony. So, Jesus continues to live in his followers while Buddha lives only in history books. On this feast, as on Holy Thursday, we reflect on the importance of the institution of the Holy Eucharist and priesthood. [Osho Rajneesh claimed that he was another incarnation of God who attained “enlightenment” at 29 when he was a professor of Hindu philosophy in Jabalpur University in India. He had thousands of followers for his controversial “liberation through sex theology,” based on Hindu, Buddhist and Christian theology].Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
7) Precious gift: We are all familiar with the situation of the little boy who wants to give his father a birthday present but does not have any money to buy one. His father, realizing his son is too young to make any money, slips him five bucks so that he can do some shopping the next time they are in town. The big day comes, and the little boy proudly presents his father with a beautifully wrapped, birthday gift. He is so very happy and proud of himself. So is his father — proud and happy to have such a loving son. God gave us His Son so that we could give Him back as a gift and become once again His sons and daughters. Jesus Christ was placed in our hands so that we could have a Gift, the best of gifts. During each Eucharistic celebration, we give this precious Gift back to God the Father. (Fr. Jack Dorsel). Today we celebrate the feast of the Eucharist. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
8) The Eucharistic miracle at the tomb of St. Christina in Bolsena, Italy: Today we are reminded of a miracle that took place in 1263. A German priest, Peter of Prague, stopped at Bolsena while on a pilgrimage to Rome. He is described as being a pious priest, but one who found it difficult to believe in Transubstantiation. While celebrating Mass at the tomb of St. Christina, located in Bolsena, Italy, he had barely spoken the words of Consecration when blood started to seep from the consecrated Host and trickle over his hands onto the altar and the corporal. The priest was immediately confused. At first, he attempted to hide the blood, but then he interrupted the Mass and asked to be taken to the neighboring city of Orvieto, the city where Pope Urban IV was then residing. The Pope listened to the priest’s story and gave him absolution for his lack of Faith. He then sent emissaries for an immediate investigation. When all the facts were ascertained, he ordered the Bishop of the diocese to bring to Orvieto the Host and the linen cloth bearing the stains of blood. With archbishops, cardinals and other Church dignitaries in attendance, the Pope met the procession and, amid great pomp, had the relics placed in the cathedral. The linen corporal bearing the spots of blood is still reverently enshrined and exhibited in the Cathedral of Orvieto, Italy. Pope Urban IV was prompted by this miracle to commission St. Thomas Aquinas to compose the liturgical prayers in honor of the Eucharist. One year after the miracle, in August of 1264, Pope Urban IV introduced the saint’s compositions, and by means of a papal bull instituted the feast of Corpus Christi. (Fr. Eugene Lobo, S.J. Rome). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
9) Another Eucharistic miracle: A famous Eucharistic miracle that of Lanciano, Italy, which took place in the year 700. A monk who feared he was losing his vocation was celebrating Mass, and during the consecration the host turned into flesh and the wine turned into blood Despite the fact that the miracle took place almost 1300 years ago, you may still see the flesh in a monstrance which is exposed every day and the blood in a glass chalice. (The glass chalice is beneath the monstrance on the right.) I also had the privilege of seeing that Eucharistic miracle during my time in Italy. The blood has congealed and is now in five clots in the glass chalice. In 1971 and 1981 a hospital laboratory tested the flesh and blood and discovered that the flesh is myocardium, which is heart muscular tissue, so we could say it is the heart of Jesus, the Sacred Heart, and the blood is of the blood group AB. In 1978 NASA scientists tested the blood on the Turin Shroud and interestingly also discovered that it is of the blood group AB. (The Sudarium, Face Cloth of Christ, in John 20:6 is also of the blood group AB.) Despite the fact that human flesh and blood should not have remained preserved for 1300 years, the hospital lab tests found no trace of any preservatives. One final interesting point about the five blood clots in the chalice is that when you weigh one of them, it is the same weight as all five together, two of them together weigh the same as all five. In fact, no matter what way you combine the blood clots individually or in a group to weigh them, they always weigh the same. (This shows that the full Jesus is present in a particle of the Eucharist no matter how small.) These are two Eucharistic miracles I have seen and which have been authenticated by the Church after investigation. (Fr. Tommy Lane). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
10) Blood Brothers: Jesuit Ignacio Ellacuria of El Salvador, Franciscan Maximilian Kolbe of Poland, Sr. Rani Maria an Australian missionary, and Graham Staines murdered in north India, appear very diverse in their lifestyles, yet little divided them in death. All these are martyrs who shed their blood that others might live. They represent modern ‘bodies of Christ.’ Today, celebrating the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, we could reflect on the Sacramental symbols of Blood and Body and our Christian calling. -Some years ago, Jesuit philosophers of Satya Nilayam in South India, formed a group called “Blood Brothers,” comprised of students who were willing to donate blood regularly. Indeed, we are all truly “Blood brothers and sisters,” saved by the supreme sacrifice of our elder Blood Brother, Jesus. Moreover, Martyrs like Ellacuria, Kolbe, Staines and Rani Maria are but representatives of a long list of “Blood brothers and sisters” whose life was truly Eucharistic. May the Corpus Christi called “Church” be ever willing to break itself and bleed in selfless service of society at large. (Francis Gonsalves in Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
11) The Blessing Cup: Leonardo da Vinci was 43 years old when the Duke of Milan asked him to paint the Last Supper. He worked on it slowly and with meticulous attention to detail. He spent much time making the cup that Jesus held as beautiful as possible. After three years he was ready to show it, and he called a friend to come and see it. He said, “Look at it and give me your opinion.” The friend said, “It is wonderful. The cup is so real I cannot take my eyes of it!” Immediately, Leonardo took a brush and drew it across the sparkling cup. He exclaimed as he did so: “Nothing shall detract from the figure of Christ!” Christ must be the primary focus of a Christian’s life. (John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
12) “Are you guys Dominicans?” Fr. Denis likes to tell a story about an American paratrooper in World War II who got entangled in a tree and couldn’t get down. He was terribly afraid that he had come down behind enemy lines and would be killed. Then two men dressed in civilian clothes came by so the GI quickly called out, “Can you tell me where I am?” “Indeed, we can,” said one – “You are up in a tree.” There was a long pause, and then the paratrooper asked suspiciously, “Are you guys Dominicans?” “Yes, but how could you tell?” The GI replied, “I knew because what you say is perfectly true – but it doesn’t help me to get out of this tree!” Likewise, to describe Catholic belief about the Holy Eucharist by saying that it is the Body and Blood of Christ is true, but not very helpful — unless we are convinced of this truth, appreciate this great gift, and experience it in our lives. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
13) St. Padre Pio’s prayer of thanksgiving after Mass.
“Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You.
Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak and I need Your strength, that I may not fall so often.
Stay with me, Lord, for You are my life, and without You, I am without fervor.
Stay with me, Lord, for You are my light, and without You, I am in darkness.
Stay with me, Lord, to show me Your will.
Stay with me, Lord, so that I hear Your voice and follow You.
Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love You very much, and always be in Your company.
Stay with me, Lord, if You wish me to be faithful to You.
Stay with me, Lord, for as poor as my soul is, I want it to be a place of consolation for You, a nest of love.
Stay with me, Jesus, for it is getting late, the day is coming to a close, and life passes; death, judgment, eternity approach. It is necessary to renew my strength. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
14) “The Mass is Heaven on earth!” Scott Hahn was a Protestant minister, who had for twenty years studied the Book of Revelation. He admits that in trying to study Revelation, he felt like a person standing before a locked door, searching for the right key on a keychain. There was no key that fit, until he linked the Book of Revelation to the Mass. And that, in his opinion, is the right key. His experience thereafter was so inspiring that a year later, he asked to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church. This in a nutshell, is his thesis: The key to understanding the Book of Revelation is the Mass. Stated differently; the Mass is the only way a Christian can truly make sense of the Book of Revelation. Today, Dr. Scott Hahn, a happily married man and father of six children, is a Professor of Theology and Scripture in a University and the Director of the Institute of Applied Biblical Studies. –Scott Hahn is candid and realistic when he observes that, for most Catholics, the Sunday Mass is anything but Heavenly. In fact, he frankly adds, it’s often an uncomfortable hour, punctuated by babies screaming, bland hymns sung off-key, meandering and pointless homilies, and people dressed as if they were going to a party, picnic or football game. Yet, this is his conviction: “When we go to Mass every Sunday, we go to Heaven. And this is true of every Mass we attend, regardless of the quality of the music or the fervour of the preacher. The Mass –and I mean every single Mass –is Heaven on earth.”
(James Valladares in Your Words are Spirit, and They Are Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
15) Body of Christ? Sometime ago I was in Washington, D.C. in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. A dozen or so pilgrims came out of the grandiose basilica. They had participated in a Mass, they had received Holy Communion, forming with Jesus, his Body and Blood. I saw them, and I even saw a blind man who had received Communion with them. They came out of the Church together with him. He walked among them tapping the pavement in front of himself with his stick. He did not see them since he was blind but he must have been aware of them all talking excitedly, feeling a bit lost in a strange place. They did not see him, either, though they were not blind. He ended up in the midst of them. Someone stepped on his cane, bending it, while he was pushed on. They left him alone trying to straighten his cane. They had all been to Holy Communion together in Jesus, who said of all of them: “This is My Body, this is My Blood!” Yet, when it came to everyday life, that reality got lost; the Body did not seem to have been formed. They were not really in communion. They did not really form His Body, our Body. Did they? Do we? (Joseph G. Donders in Praying and Preaching the Sunday Gospel; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
16) What are they hungry for? An American priest was invited to take part in a youth rally in Canada. About 700 young people were camping out in a large park for the weekend. Their program included workshops on such topics as dating, sexual morality, drugs, peer pressure and meditation. The organizers felt that the least popular workshop would be the one on meditation. They were in for a big surprise. It was the best attended workshop of the weekend. At one point in that workshop, the priest giving it sensed a profound presence of the Holy Spirit and invited the 200 participants to pray together. The response was amazing. Afterwards the priest said, “It was one of the most moving experiences in all my years of priestly ministry.” Then alluding to the image in today’s Gospel he said: “There’s a whole mountain-side full of young people out there who want to eat, but there’s no one to feed them. There’s a whole mountain-side full of young people out there who want to pray but there’s no one to teach them.” The priest’s remark merely paraphrases what Jesus said in Matthew’s Gospel. (Quoted by Fr. Botelho) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
17) Source of Christian heroism: I’d like to begin this Corpus Christi homily with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi. He asked a question regarding Fr. Damien: “The political and journalistic world can boast of very few heroes who compare with Father Damien of Molokai. The Catholic Church, on the contrary, counts by the thousands those who, after the example of Damien, have devoted themselves to the victims of leprosy. It is worthwhile to look for the sources of such heroism.” That’s a great question: What is the source of the heroism of people like St. Damien DeVeuster of Molokai and his successor, St. Marianne Cope? We get the answer this Sunday. In today’s readings, St. Paul tells how Jesus took bread and said, “This is my Body that is for you,” and with the chalice of wine, “This Cup is the New Covenant in My Blood.” Then St. Paul concludes, “As often as you eat this Bread and drink this Cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” When we receive Communion – the Body and Blood, soul and Divinity of Jesus – we mystically enter his death and Resurrection. That should give us strength – strength to spend our lives in service. Now, you and I are not St. Damien or St. Marianne, but the Eucharist calls us – like them – to give our lives for others. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
18) “What kind of joke is this?” A priest I heard of, if he sees people leave Mass early, stops them and reminds them that only one person left the Last Supper early! Well, I am not going to do that, but I am tempted to do what St. Philip Neri did: He saw someone leaving Church right after Communion, and he sent servers with candles and bells to accompany the man. The guy stormed back into the Church and confronted the priest. “What kind of joke is this?” he demanded. St. Philip Neri said, “It’s no joke. The rules of the liturgy say the Blessed Sacrament should be treated with reverence. You left the Church immediately with no prayer of thanksgiving. You were carrying the Blessed Sacrament within you. So, I asked the boys to accompany you to honor Him.” — After Communion you and I are tabernacles – the physical presence of Jesus continues in us for a brief time. That’s why we have the Communion hymn, a time of silence, the Communion Prayer – and even the announcements – to build up the Body of Christ in practical ways. I encourage you to use well the time after Communion to say thanks, to express your gratitude. (Fr. Phil Bloom). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
19) “Body of Christ” A modern tourist in cities like Paris and Rome, and particularly the latter, cannot but be struck by the extraordinary number of Churches and their close proximity to each other. They all derive from the devotion to Corpus Christi which originated in the twelfth century and whose feast we celebrate today. It began in the city of Liege in Belgium, under Bishop Robert Thourotte of Liege, persuaded by St. Juliana of Cornillion. Urban IV in 1264 extended the feast to the Universal Church. After Urban’s death, October 2, 1264, the feast was restricted to certain areas of France, Germany, Hungary, and northern Italy, but in 1317 Pope John XXII (served August 7, 1316 through December 4, 1334), reintroduced the Feast to the Universal Church (Instruction by Pope Benedict XVI at the General audience celebrated in St. Peter’s Square, November 17, 2010).
By the fifteenth century, Corpus Christi had become the principal feast of the Church almost everywhere. Every city, town and village held its Corpus Christi procession. In some places it became the social event of the calendar. Months were spent preparing for it. Guilds competed with each other to provide the most colourful contribution. Cities like Paris had their timber-built houses arranged in narrow streets, where humans and animals lived closely together in squalor. In such a world, it was little wonder that the Corpus Christi devotion had such enormous appeal. What greater protection could they ask for than the Body of Christ, carried in procession through their streets to inoculate them against all kinds of infections?
After well over a thousand years of Christianity, the Real Presence, Christ’s continuing presence in the consecrated Bread, came to dominate the devotional life of the people. New devotions were developed such as visits to, and Exposition and Benediction of, the Blessed Sacrament. The idea that no place was too good to house the Body of Christ, led to the building of larger and more ornate churches. It became the age of the great Cathedrals, like Notre Dame and Chartres in France. Changes were introduced into the Mass itself to reflect this new devotion; in particular, the elevation was introduced after the consecration. For medieval Christians, there were real and down-to-earth reasons why the Body and Blood of Christ should be raised. Blindness was a common affliction then, and people believed that looking at the Body of Christ was the best protection against it. Bowing to popular pressure, the Church permitted it. The elevation of the chalice was an after-thought because the Church feared that the people might believe Jesus was present in only one species. This background helps to explain the close proximity of Churches in cities like Paris and Rome. Elevations were much in demand and people rushed from one Church to another just to watch the elevation. Such Eucharistic devotions dominated religious practice right down to the Second Vatican Council. There the Church wisely decided that the Mass needed to be restored as the centre of Eucharistic devotion and, perhaps unwittingly, the other forms were down-graded. Within a generation, visits, Benedictions, Expositions and Corpus Christi processions had virtually disappeared. The Bread remained, the circuses had gone. And we are the poorer for it. (Rev. Liam Swords) Biblical IE. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
20) History of the feast: In 1246, Bishop Robert Thourotte of the Belgian diocese of Liège, at the suggestion of St. Juliana of Mont Cornillion (also in Belgium), convened a synod and instituted the celebration of the feast. From Liège, the celebration began to spread, and, on September 8, 1264, Pope Urban IV issued the papal bull Transiturus, which established the Feast of Corpus Christi as a universal feast of the Church, to be celebrated on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday. At the request of Pope Urban IV, St. Thomas Aquinas composed the office (the official prayers of the Church) for the feast. This office is widely considered one of the most beautiful in the traditional Roman Breviary (the official prayer book of the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours), and it is the source of the famous Eucharistic hymns “Pange Lingua Gloriosi” and “Tantum Ergo Sacramentum.” For centuries after the celebration was extended to the universal Church, the feast was also celebrated with a Eucharistic procession in which the Sacred Host was carried throughout the town, accompanied by hymns and litanies. The faithful would venerate the Body of Christ as the procession passed by. In recent years, this practice has almost disappeared, though some parishes still hold a brief procession around the outside of the parish Church. While the Feast of Corpus Christi is one of the ten Holy Days of Obligation in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, in some countries, including the United States, the feast has been transferred to the following Sunday. (Fr. Hoisington). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
21) Pope Benedict XVI’s preference for receiving Holy Communion on tongue: “I am not opposed in principle to Communion in the hand; I have both administered and received Communion in this way myself. The idea behind my current practice of having people kneel to receive Communion on the tongue was to send a signal and to underscore the Real Presence with an exclamation point. One important reason is that there is a great danger of superficiality precisely in the kinds of Mass events we hold at Saint Peter’s, both in the Basilica and in the Square. I have heard of people who, after receiving Communion, stick the Host in their wallet to take home as a kind of souvenir. In this context, where people think that everyone is just automatically supposed to receive Communion — everyone else is going up, so I will, too—I wanted to send a clear signal. I wanted it to be clear: Something quite special is going on here! He is here, the One before whom we fall on our knees! Pay attention! This is not just some social ritual in which we can take part if we want to.” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
22) Visiting the Tabernacle (with a quotation from St. Peter Julian Eymard): This is why Catholics still practice the ancient tradition of making frequent visits to the Eucharist throughout the day. Even in big cities today, when you go into a Catholic Church, you can almost always find someone kneeling before the altar where the Tabernacle is kept. The red candle burning near the tabernacle (the Sanctuary Light, or Presence Lamp), is a constant reminder that Christ is truly present there, and His love is burning for us. This is also why Catholics still have the tradition of making the sign of the cross when they drive by a Catholic Church. Even if we don’t have time to stop and make a visit to our Lord, to thank Him for His blessings and tell Him all our needs and sorrows, by making the sign of the cross we show our Faith in and appreciation for His constant, miraculous presence. St Peter Julian Eymard [AYE-mard], who lived in France in the 1800s, beautifully explains how Christ’s constant Presence in the Eucharist shows, without a doubt, that Jesus’ love for us, even for the most hardened sinner, has no limits. Speaking of Jesus in the Eucharist, St. Peter says: “He loves, He hopes, He waits. If He came down on our altars on certain days only, some sinner, on being moved to repentance, might have to look for Him, and not finding Him, might have to wait. Our Lord prefers to wait Himself for the sinner for years rather than keep him waiting one instant.” (E-Priest). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
23) Saints’ favorite food: Throughout the history of the Church, God has made the power of the Eucharist clear in many ways.
• For example, some of the saints have gone for long periods of their lives in which their only food was the Eucharist. I know it sounds hard to believe. If there were only one or two cases, it would be reasonable to be skeptical. But it actually happens every couple generations, as if God wants to make sure we don’t forget what’s really going on in the Eucharist.
- In the 1300’s, St Catherine of Siena often went for months at a time living solely on the Holy Eucharist.
- In the 1400s, St Nicholas of Flue, Switzerland’s great native saint, spent the last 19 years of his life as a hermit. He would give spiritual advice all day and pray all night. For those 19 years, he was unable to eat any food. The Holy Eucharist was his only nourishment.
- In April, 2004, Pope St. John Paul II beatified Blessed Alejandrina Maria da Costa, a Portuguese peasant girl. Paralyzed at age 14, she spent her life offering her sufferings and prayers to God for the conversion of sinners. She died in 1955, at age 51. For the last 13 years of her life, Alejandrina ate and drank nothing except her daily Holy Communion. Since she lived in the age of modern science, she gave rise to countless medical studies, none of which has found a natural explanation. (E-Priest). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
24) St Juliana Falconieri’s Miraculous Final Communion: All the saints realize how much we need this divine nourishment. St Juliana Falconieri [fahl-cone-YAIR-ee] had a particularly passionate devotion to this truth of our faith. Juliana lived in Florence, Italy, in the early Renaissance. When she was 14, her mother began arranging a marriage for her. As soon as she found out, she objected, explaining that she wanted to consecrate her life to Christ. At first her mother resisted, but Juliana’s vocation was undeniable, and eventually she took the habit as a Third Order Servite. Later, she helped start a new Order of Servite nuns, dedicated to prayer and serving the sick. Throughout the long, hard years of foundation, she received Holy Communion three times a week – much more often than was normal for those times. But in her later years, chronic sickness made her unable to consume anything solid. Even while on her deathbed, frequent fits of vomiting made it impossible for her to receive Communion. But when she knew her last hour had come, she was inflamed with a desire to receive Holy Communion one last time. So, she asked the priest to lay a corporal (the white cloth put on top of the altar for the liturgy of the Eucharist) on her chest and place the consecrated host on top of it. No sooner had the Eucharist been laid over her heart than it disappeared, being miraculously consumed directly into her body. She died soon after, and as they were preparing the body for burial, they found the sign of the cross that had been on the host emblazoned on her skin. Ever since, the Servites have kept an image of a shining host on the left front side of their habits. The Eucharist is Food from Heaven, given to us by Christ to bring us to Heaven. (E-Priest). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
25) Two fundamental needs: Ethiopia suffered a terrible famine during the years 1984 to 1986. Cardinal Hume of Westminster tells us about an incident that happened when he visited Ethiopia in the middle of the famine. One of the places he visited was a settlement in the hills where the people were waiting for food which was likely to arrive. He was taken there by helicopter. As he got out of the helicopter a small boy, aged about ten, came up to him and took his hand. He was wearing nothing but a loincloth around his waist. The whole time that the cardinal was there the little child would not let go of his hand. As they went around, he made two gestures: with one hand he pointed to his mouth, and with the other he took the cardinal’s hand and rubbed it on his cheek. Later, the cardinal said, “Here was an orphan boy who was lost and starving. Yet by two simple gestures he indicated two fundamental needs or hungers. With one gesture he showed me his hunger for food, and with the other his hunger for love. I have never forgotten that incident, and to this day I wonder whether that child is alive.”(Flor McCarthy in New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
26) How can God be present in a tiny host? Some time ago, a street-corner preacher who knew how to make religious truths come to life was faced by a hostile crowd. “How,” one of them demanded, “is it possible for bread and wine to become the Body and Blood of Christ?” The preacher looked calmly at the stout questioner for a moment and answered, “You have grown somewhat since you were a child and have more flesh and blood than you had then. Surely, if a human body can change food and drink into flesh and blood, God can do it too.” “But how,” countered the heckler, “is it possible for Christ to be present in his entirety in a small host?” The preacher glanced up at the sky and down at the street before them and answered, “This city scene and the sky above it is something immense, while your eye is very small. Yet your eye in itself contains the whole picture. When you consider this, it won’t seem impossible for Christ to be present in his entirety in a little piece of bread.” Once more the heckler attacked. “How, then, is it possible for the same Body of Christ to be present in all your Churches at the same time?” The preacher’s answer: “In a large mirror you see your image reflected but once. When you break the mirror into a thousand pieces, you see the same image of yourself in each of the thousand fragments. If such things occur in everyday life, why should it be impossible for the Body of Christ to be present in many places at once? Just tell me, what isn’t possible for God? (Harold Buetow in God Still Speaks: Listen!— quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
27) A Missionary Gets Muddy: The Eucharist is one of the great proofs of God’s trustworthiness – Christ faithfully present through the ups and downs of twenty centuries and counting. A true story about a missionary illustrates this well. Fr. Meehus was working in a small village in rural China during the Sino-Japanese war. As Japanese soldiers neared the village, the priest led his congregation of orphans into hiding in the nearby hills. Safe in a cave, he counted eighty children – everyone was there. Then one of the boys spoke up, “Father, someone is missing.” They counted again – still 80. But the boy insisted. The priest asked, “Who is it, who’s missing?” The boy answered, ” We left Jesus in the Tabernacle.” Father moaned – in his rushed escape, he had forgotten to bring the Blessed Sacrament. He made a quick decision. He had the children smear him with mud, telling them that he was going to be a commando (which they thought was fun). Then he went out, slipped through enemy lines, crept to the Church, and tip-toed up to the Tabernacle, praying in the silence of his heart: “Jesus, I’m sorry I have to come for You this way; You might not recognize me with all this mud… I am in disguise now, but this is really and truly the one who has held You in his hands many mornings at Mass.” And in his heart, the priest heard God answering him: “Of course I recognize you… I am in disguise too. A lot of people don’t recognize Me either; but in spite of appearances, I am Jesus, your friend, and I hold you in My hands from morning until night.” When the soldiers left, the priest and his congregation carried Jesus in a triumphant procession back to the Tabernacle. When trusting God is hard, a glance at the Eucharist – the sign of God’s faithfulness – can make all the difference. (Adapted from Msgr. Arthur Tonne’s Stories for Sermons). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
28) Retelling the Story: On a hill near Cape Town, South Africa, just below the famed Table Mountain, a gun is fired every day at noon. The hill is known as Signal Hill. The firing of the gun once served a beautiful purpose. It signaled that a ship, on its way to or from India, had arrived in the harbour with a cargo of goods, and was in need of supplies of food and fresh water. A beautiful exchange resulted. There was receiving and giving. But that was a long time ago. The purpose no longer exists. Yet the gun is still fired dutifully every day. However, the firing is now little more than an empty ritual. Once it had a beautiful meaning. Now the meaning has gone out of it. Most of the local people ignore it. Visitors are told, “If you hear a loud bang at mid-day, don’t worry. It’s only the gun going off.” However, the ritual still has one thing going for it. Most people know the story behind it. If that story were to be lost, then the ritual would become poorer still. The Eucharist celebrates a wonderful event – the Gift which Jesus made of his life on our behalf. Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, we tell that story again. But like anything that is repeated over and over again, there is a danger that it may become just a ritual. (Flor McCarthy in New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Tony Kayala). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
29) God Always Comes…Once upon a time there was a Rabbi. Whenever he wanted God’s presence, he went to a special place in the woods, lit a fire, said some prayers, and did a dance. Then God would appear to him. When he died, his disciple did the same. If he wanted God’s presence, he went to the same spot in the woods, lit the fire, and said the same prayers, but nobody had taught him the dance. It still worked. God appeared. When he died, his disciple carried on the tradition. If he wanted God’s presence, he went to the same spot in the woods and lit the fire, but he didn’t know the prayers, nor the dance, but it still worked. God came. Then he died. He also had a disciple. Whenever he wanted God’s presence, he too went to the same place in the woods, but nobody had taught him how to light the fire or say the prayers or do the dance, but it still worked, God appeared. In the end, he died, but he too had a pupil. One day this pupil wanted God’s presence. So, he searched for the place in the woods, but couldn’t find it. And he didn’t know how to light the fire or say the prayers or do the dance. All he knew was how to tell the story. But it worked. He discovered that whenever he told the story of how the others had found God, God would appear. In essence, this story explains how the sacred ritual, liturgy, works. (Ronald Rolheiser in In Exile; quoted by Fr. Tony Kayala). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
30) Jesus, Bread of Life: Brennan Manning, an American Franciscan priest, tells this story of his mother, a lady in her mid-seventies in Brooklyn. Mrs. Manning’s day centered on her daily Eucharist. Because she began her voluntary stint at a drug detoxification center each morning at 7.30 AM, the only Mass she could attend was at 5.30 AM. Across the road from her lived a very successful lawyer, mid-thirties, married with two children. The man had no religion and was particularly critical of daily Churchgoers. Driving home from a late party at 5 am one January morning, the roads glassy with ice, he said to his wife: “I bet that old hag won’t be out this morning”, referring to Mrs. Manning. But to his shock, there she was on hands and knees negotiating the hill up to the Church. He went home, tried to sleep, but could not. Around 9 AM he rose, went to the local presbytery and asked to see a priest. “Padre,” he said, “I am not one of yours. I have no religion. But could you tell me what you have there that can make an old woman crawl on hands and knees on an icy morning?” Thus, began his conversion along with his wife and family. Mrs. Manning was one of those people who never studied deep religious books, never knew the big theological words, but she knew what it is to meet Jesus in Holy Communion. Jesus Christ is the bread of life. What more could we want? (Sylvester O’Flynn in The Good News of Mark’s Year; quoted by Fr. Tony Kayala). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
31) Film –Eat Drink Man Woman A retired master-chef, affectionately called Uncle Chu, lives with his three daughters and has lost his sense of taste. He is a widower of sixteen years and enjoys cooking for his family. There is a crisis at the restaurant where he worked, and he is called back to supervise a major banquet before it becomes a disaster. He saves the day but will not return to work full-time. Eat Drink Man Woman is a story of a family and its strained relationships. The recurring images of food and cooking give it a sensual texture that brings the emotional issues down to earth. It also celebrates the exquisite nature of food and of the love that goes into its preparation. Those who sit at the Taipei table at the special meal respect the daughter and her new husband, who is a Christian, and she leads them in a prayer of blessing. These are people, like people everywhere, who are seeking their place in the kingdom of God. The Chu family lives amid tension and their relationships are at various times estranged. They, like so many families the world over, are like the crowds in the Gospel because they need healing. The numerous cooking and eating sequences of the film remind us that food is a blessing. Jesus blessed food and while he gave only loaves and fish to feed the crowds, “they all ate and were satisfied.” (Peter Malone in Lights, Camera, Faith! Quoted by Fr. Botelho.) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
32) Eucharistic Mystery: St. Thomas Aquinas, perhaps the most famous philosopher and theologian, was a great devotee of the Eucharist. He wrote the liturgy of the feast and many hymns associated with the feast, like “Tantum Ergo Sacramentum,” are accredited to St. Thomas Aquinas. One night when he was praying in the Dominican Chapel in Naples, the sacristan concealed himself to watch the saint in prayer. He saw him lifted up in the air, and heard Christ speaking to him from the Crucifix: “Thomas, you have written well of me. What reward would you have?” “Lord, nothing but yourself,” replied Thomas. His request was granted. On December 6, 1273, when he was celebrating Mass in the same chapel, he had some profound mystical experience. We do not know what it was, but after Mass, Thomas said to his long time secretary, “God has revealed such great things to me that whatever I have written so far seems so much straw to me.” This prolific writer put down his pen, and never wrote again. Two months later he died at the age of forty-nine. (John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
33) Oscar Romero: When installed as Archbishop, Oscar Romero was just a conservative churchman unaware of the massive repression against poor Salvadoran campesinos, the peasant victims of State-sponsored violence. Stunned by the murder of his Jesuit friend, Rutilio Grande, a “prophet of the poor” in BCC’s and sugar plantations, Romero courageously called for cessation of violence and criticized national leaders, many of whom were Christians. Thereafter, he received death-threats. A day before his murder, Romero said, “If they kill me, I will rise again in the people of El Salvador!” On March 24, 1980, Romero preached, “This Eucharist is an act of faith…May this Body immolated and this Blood sacrificed for humankind nourish us also, so that we may give our body and blood, like Christ, for our people.” Minutes later, while raising the chalice during consecration, Romero was shot dead. (Francis Gonsalves in Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/20
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle A (No. 34) by Fr. Tony: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit my website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle A homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at email@example.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies under CBCI or Fr. Tony for my website version. Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604