Corpus Christi Sunday – June 18, 2017
Today as a Church and a parish, we celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus – Corpus Christi Sunday – a day that calls us to reflect upon the gift of God given to us in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist – a day that in so many ways captures the heart of this community of faith here in Pleasant Mount and, for that matter, in every parish that gathers around the table of the Lord as we do this morning.
All of our lives and the very essence of our beings as Christians are directed towards the worship and praise of God – present to us in the Eucharist. And every good that emerges from us and that gives life to the promise of Jesus to remain with us always has its origin in the same Eucharist. In and through the sacrament of his body and blood, the sacrificial, selfless love of Jesus is present through the power and mercy of God.
And so, our hearts should indeed well up in praise of God for the sublime gift of his presence, found in the simple gifts of bread and wine. And likewise, our spirits should claim the promise of Jesus to be with us always and to give us food for the journey of faith that we are called to live with and for a broken world – our struggling sisters and brothers.
Early on in his pontificate, Saint John Paul II wrote to the bishops of the world about the gift of the Eucharist. He spoke of the gift of God found in the sacramental presence of Jesus that we honor and receive this day. He also said this: “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.”
In the gift of the Eucharist, then, which we celebrate today and every day that we gather at the Lord’s altar, we are given nothing less than the very presence and life of Jesus. Today’s feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord reminds us never to take this gift for granted; never to 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.
Yet, in the gift of the Eucharist, we also discover something else. We discover the essence of who we are and what we are called to be as Christians. Recall again the words of Blessed Pope John Paul II. Yes, he spoke of the awesome presence of God in the Eucharist. But he also called Eucharist “the school of active love” for our neighbor.
So when God’s people assemble in faith as we do today, we are called to recreate the ritual meal of the Last Supper. But we are also called to do something else. 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.
Receive Christ, the living bread that sustains us on our journey of faith. Receive Christ and so become Christ in loving service to one another. … Become Christ for your husband/your wife. Become Christ for your mother/your father; your son/your daughter. Become Christ for you neighbor. Become Christ for the stranger. Become Christ for the unborn child. Become Christ for the hungry. Become Christ for the poor. Become Christ for those who seek forgiveness. Become Christ for the immigrant. Become Christ for the forgotten. … Become the Christ whom you adore and whom you worship.
In short, the great sacrament of the Eucharist that we celebrate this day is both a gift to be cherished and a responsibility to be embraced by all who seek to follow the Lord Jesus with sincerity of heart.
I’d like to end this reflection on the Word of God and the Eucharist by sharing with you words these words of Pope Francis. “In the Eucharist, Jesus gives Himself totally; 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. The Son of God is offered to us. He consigns His Body and his Blood into our hands to be with us always, to dwell among us. … 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 way.… 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!”
And so, my brothers and sisters, may our prayer on this great day in the Church embody these simple words: As we receive Christ in the Eucharist, may we, in turn, become Christ for others. Amen.