Corpus Christi Sunday – June 19, 2022
Inauguration of Eucharistic Revival
“Jesus is God-for-us, God-with-us, God within-us. Jesus is God giving himself completely, pouring himself out for us without reserve…. He gives all there is to give. ‘Eat, drink, this is my body, this is my blood…this is me for you!’ … God does not hold back. God gives all!”
Those words taken from With Burning Hearts, penned by Dutch priest and writer, Henri Nouwen, capture the essence of all that we receive in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist – the heart of every Mass and the focus of our celebration of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ.
Today in this local Church of Scranton, we join with Catholics from every diocese throughout our country to begin a three year Eucharistic Revival. During this treasured time, we will contemplate and proclaim the doctrine of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, a belief that has sustained countless numbers of Catholic Christians throughout two millennia, yet a belief that, sadly, many have lost over the years. Our hope for these years of revival is that we are able to reclaim and fortify this sublime gift of God through the truth of our Church’s teaching, the beauty of our Catholic worship and the goodness of lives of service that flow from the life and presence of Jesus, given to us in the Eucharist.
In announcing this Eucharistic Revival, the Bishops of our land envisioned that it would lead to “a movement of Catholics across the United States, healed, converted, formed and unified by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist – and sent out in mission ‘for the life of the world.’”
Brothers and sisters, the very essence of our lives as Christians – as disciples of Jesus – finds its origin in the Eucharist.
Through the Eucharist, we are incorporated into Christ’s Paschal Mystery, as proclaimed in Saint Paul’s letter to the Church at Corinth. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.”
Through the Eucharist, we are bound one to another as brothers and sisters in Christ. Recall the words of Pope Benedict in his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, “I cannot possess Christ just for myself. … Communion draws me out of myself towards him, and thus also towards unity with all Christians.”
Through the Eucharist, we not only remember an event in history during the Super of the Lord, but also the promise of Christ’s second coming in glory.
And through the Eucharist, we are sent forth on mission – to be the living presence of Jesus in our world today. While we find great consolation and peace in adoring Christ present in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood, our time with Christ is never meant to end in adoration. Such treasured moments are always given to us to fortify us to go forth on mission – not self-righteously because of all that we have been privileged to receive – but as the humble Christ who went forth to forgive, to heal, to feed and to impart God’s mercy and love.
Early on in his pontificate, Saint John Paul II wrote to the bishops of the world about the treasure given to us in the Eucharist. He spoke of the gift of God found in the sacramental presence of Jesus that we honor and receive this day and then he reminded us of the outward movement of Eucharist: “The authentic sense of the Eucharist is that it becomes the school of active love for my neighbor. If authentically received, Eucharist must make us grow in awareness of one another.”
St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians proclaimed in our second reading this morning provides us with the foundation for the words shared by our late Holy Father and what should be the focus for our lives as Christians during these three years of Eucharistic Revival in our land. In this earliest scriptural reference to the institution of the Holy Eucharist, Paul recounts Jesus’ words to his disciples on the very night before he died for us. “This bread is my body, which is for you. This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this in remembrance of me.”
Saint Paul also reminds us to never take this gift for granted; to never see it as a routine element of our worship – but to maintain a sense of wonder and awe at the gift of God’s presence – here – in the midst of our broken world; here – in the midst of our fragile lives; here – in this parish community. … “This bread is my body, which is for you. This cup is the new covenant in my blood.”
Yet, recall again the words of Saint John Paul II who likened the Eucharist to “the school of active love” for our neighbor. … As Jesus called us to break bread and pour forth wine at the Last Supper in his memory, he called us to do more than simply recreate a ritual meal. He called us to allow our bodies to be broken and our blood poured forth for the sake of our suffering world.
The great Saint Augustine put it best: “Become the mystery you celebrate.” … Become the broken Christ whose life was poured forth for those that he loved. … Become the loving, compassionate Christ who multiplied loaves and fish and fed the hungry multitudes, satisfying not only their physical needs, but their desire to be nourished by the God.
Sometime ago, Pope Francis reflected upon the Eucharist. “Jesus gives Himself totally in the Eucharist; He keeps nothing for Himself, not even His life. At the Last Supper, with His friends, He shares the bread and distributes the chalice for us to be with us always. … Each of us can say, ‘He loved me and gave Himself for me.’ … So what does this mean for us? It means that Jesus way is my, your, our path. … It means that we must reach out to others, go to the outskirts of existence, be the first to move towards our brothers and sisters, especially those who are most distant, those who are forgotten, those who are most in need of understanding, consolation and help. There is so much need to bring to our world the living presence of Jesus, merciful and full of love!”
At the conclusion of today’s Mass, we will hear the deacon dismiss us with words that we so often fail to heed. “Go forth, the Mass is ended.” Do not linger but “go and announce the Gospel of the Lord” through the power of Christ within you.
We will then process out of this great cathedral carrying Christ both in our hearts, having received Holy Communion, and in the monstrance, taking Christ out into the world where he is most at home with the suffering, the poor and the broken. This ancient tradition will proclaim to a world that has so often lost its way our belief in the living presence of Jesus. This tradition will also proclaim to us that we who are privileged to receive Christ must become Christ and take him into our world so desperately in need of God’s presence, God’s grace and God’s mercy.