Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Year B)

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:

Homily for the Body and Blood of Christ

By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp

We Become What We Eat

Genesis 14:18-20

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Luke 9:11-17

Augustinian nun Juliana of Liège had a vision in which a glistening full moon appeared to her. The moon was perfect but for some hollow dark spots which she was told represented the absence of a feast of the Eucharist. This led to the celebration of the feast of the Body of Christ, Corpus Christi, which was introduced into the church calendar in 1264.

Why do we need a feast of the Eucharist? A feast like this affords us the opportunity to give God collective thanks for Christ’s abiding presence with us which is made visible in the Eucharist. It is also an opportunity for us to seek a better understanding of the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ and to order our attitude to it accordingly, since the Eucharist is a sacrament of life which, if misused, could bring about the opposite effect. As St Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “All who eat and drink in an unworthy manner, without discerning the Lord’s body eat and drink judgment against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died” (1 Corinthians 11:29-30).

In order to arrive at a better understanding of the Eucharist we need to ask why Jesus gave us this sacrament in the first place. A closer reading of today’s gospel or, better still, the whole of the Eucharistic discourse in John 6 from which it is taken, provides useful answers. From the reading we find that there are two main reasons Jesus gave us this sacrament. (1) Jesus promised to be with us until the end of time (Matthew 28:20). In the Eucharist he provides a visible sign and an effective means of him being present to us and us being present to him. As Jesus himself said, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” (2) Jesus said that he came that we may have life and have it to the full (John 20:20). In the Eucharist he provides a visible means of communicating this life to us so that we can be fully alive both in this world and in the next. As Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day” (John 6:53-54).

The Jews that Jesus was addressing in John 6 had gathered to ask him for more bread. Jesus promised to give them the sacramental bread and blood instead. But in their worldly frame of mind they could not understand or appreciate the sacrament. They disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (v. 52). Jesus reaffirmed that “My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink” (v. 55). They ended up distancing themselves from the Eucharist because the sacramental language makes no sense to people in a materialistic frame of mind.

The same problem that these early would-be followers of Jesus had is still with us today. If we approach the Eucharist with a materialistic mentality we fail to understand and so lose the benefits of such a wonderful gift of God’s love. The Eucharist is true food and drink but at the same time it is very different from every other food and drink. The great difference lies in these words of Christ which St Augustine heard in prayer, “You will not change me into yourself as you would food of your flesh; but you will be changed into me.” We transform ordinary food into our own bodies but the food of the Eucharist transforms us into the body of Christ. Ludwig Feuerbach’s statement that we become what we eat is never more true that in the Eucharistic experience.

Why then do many of us who receive the Eucharist not experience more of this radical transformation? Maybe this story will throw more light on the question. A team of Russians and Americans were on a common expedition. Among their cabin foodstuff was Russian black bread. It was tasty but hard on the teeth. It happened during a meal that an American bit into a piece and snapped a tooth. He threw the bread overboard and growled: “Lousy Communist bread.” The Russian countered: “Is not lousy communist bread. Is rotten capitalist tooth.” If we do not experience the transforming power of the Eucharist it is probably not on account of a lousy Eucharist but on account of our rotten faith. Let us today approach the Eucharist with a more lively faith in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and we shall experience therein God’s saving power and transforming love.

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Homily for the Body and Blood of Christ – Based on the Epistle

By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp

The Importance of Holy Communion

Genesis 14:18-20

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Luke 9:11-17

What is the most precious gift that Jesus Christ gave to his church? I do not mean the gift of the Holy Spirit. I have in mind things that we can see and touch. Many people will say, “the Bible.” The Bible is indeed an invaluable gift of God, but Jesus did not write a Bible for the church nor did he commission his disciples to write one. The most precious gift that Jesus gave to his church is that which we celebrate today, the gift of his own body and blood in the form of bread and wine.

The short reading we have today from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is very important for Bible historians. This is because the words of Jesus in this passage are the earliest recorded words of Jesus that we have. We know that the words of Jesus are recorded in the gospels and other New Testament books. But Paul’s letters were written some twenty to fifty years before the gospels and theses other New Testaments books were written.

Paul begins by telling the people of Corinth that the tradition of celebrating the Lord’s supper is one that goes back to Jesus Christ himself. “For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you” (1 Corinthians 11:23). Paul did not personally receive this tradition from the Lord, since he was not one of the twelve apostles present at the Last Supper. He received the tradition from those who were Christians before him, after his conversion to the Christian faith. Now he is handing on to the Corinthians the same tradition that he himself received. The only difference is that whereas up till the time of Paul the tradition was passed on by word of mouth, Paul was the first to put it down in writing because he could not be there physically with the Corinthians.

What is the tradition that Paul received and is now passing on? It is this:

that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25)

The night he was betrayed was the last night that Jesus spent with his disciples before his passion and death. In olden days, people did not write their wills. They spoke their wills, usually as their last words before death. What do these words of 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 tell us when we read them as the last words, the will and testament of Jesus?

First, the will of Jesus does not say a word about what Jesus taught. Its focus is on what Jesus did. He gave his body to his followers as food and his blood as drink. Remember, this was taking place in the context of the Passover meal. So Jesus was presenting himself as their Passover lamb. The Israelites in Egypt had to eat the flesh of the Passover lamb to identify themselves as God’s own people. They marked their doorposts with its blood as a sign to keep away the angel of death. Every Israelite was supposed to participate in this ritual every year to renew their identity as God’s people who enjoy God’s special blessings and protection. Seen in this light, the Eucharist becomes for us the place where we come to renew ourselves as God’s new people in Christ.

Second, the will speaks of a “new covenant.” In the Old Testament the people of God came into being through a covenant. By speaking of a new covenant Jesus is saying that a new people of God has come into being. In the sacrifice that seals the covenant Jesus is both the officiating priest and the lamb of sacrifice. We are just the beneficiaries of a life-giving grace. That is why the name “Eucharist” (“thanksgiving”) is so appropriate. Jesus did it all for us. All we have to do is receive it and give thanks.

Finally, the will of Jesus invites us to the banquet. “Do this in remembrance of me … Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (verses 24-25). Folks, this is the last thing Jesus asked us to do before he died. He asked to keep doing it as often as possible until his return in glory (verse 26). Why then is it that many of us take the Eucharist so lightly? We seem to be so ready to skip attending Mass at the slightest excuse: “I just didn’t feel like going … We were on vacation … I don’t like Pastor John’s preaching, I seem to get more from the TV service.” But no amount of television programming can take the place of holy communion. Let us today ask our Lord Jesus to increase our faith in the sacrament of his body and blood which he gives us in the form of bread and wine.

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The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ – Cycle B

 Homily # 1

I wonder if any of you have had an experience like this.  You go to some affair and, as you are having a conversation with someone, they keep looking over your shoulder to see if someone ‘more important’ has arrived, so that they could speak with them.  Or, as we pass someone we know and say ‘hello’, they ignore us.  Doesn’t that just get your blood boiling?

To be sure, all of us, at one time or another, have been treated as if we didn’t count for much at all.  It hurts, doesn’t it?

But, there is something worse than being ignored.  Being forgotten is much worse, for example, than being ignored.  To be treated, not just of little significance, but of no significance at all—as if we didn’t exist at all—has got to be the absolute pits!

All of us want to be remembered, don’t we?  Well, so did Jesus.  At the Last Supper, when Jesus said, “This is My Body…This is My Blood…Do this in remembrance of Me”, He didn’t do it because of His own need to be remembered.  He did it because of the disciples (and our) need to remember Him.  In His love for us, Jesus left us a very special way to remember Him—namely, the Eucharist.

It’s no different than when loved ones have to leave each other.  What usually happens, besides big hugs and kisses and many tears?  They leave something of themselves behind—perhaps a picture or a locket, whatever.  And, there’s a symbolism here that says, “When you touch this, you’re touching me and, somehow, we’re together”.

And, that’s exactly what Jesus did.  He knew that He was going to die very soon.  As with all true love, He wanted to leave something—some way of being constantly present to His loved ones.  He wanted a way for us to know—really know and to really see and to really feel that He’s still here among us.  And, how great is that?!!

Ah, the Eucharist!  Through it a spiritual bond is forged between us and Jesus—between us and God Almighty.  As His Body and Blood are coursing throughout our body and blood, we are in a more intimate relationship with Christ than if He was just physically present to us, as He was to His disciples.  We’re not merely in communication with Him, but we’re also in communion with Him—Holy Communion.

And, basically, it’s as simple as that.  If we have a deep faith in Jesus—a deep faith in the Eucharist—we won’t need complicated religious systems or big words or faraway shrines or apparitions to bring us closer to God.  The Eucharist is Jesus—is God Himself.  The Eucharist is everything.  What more could anyone want?  I surely can’t think of anything else that would (or could) bring me closer to God.

So, how do we receive our Lord in the Eucharist?  Do we receive Him with wonder and awe and delight and, most of all, love?  Do we greet Him as our long lost lover who has just come back to us after being away?  Or, do we take Jesus for granted?  When we’re in line to receive Him, are we only ‘going to communion’ rather than ‘I’m in Holy Communion with Him’?  Which is it for you?

As I mentioned earlier, it’s a very sad situation to be ignored and worse yet to be completely forgotten.  Don’t disconnect yourselves from Jesus by taking Him for granted.  Don’t do it.  Memory connects us with people and events that are no longer present to us.  If we cherish the memory of our loved ones, they become present to us.  They’re not just a faded memory any longer.  They’re a real presence—a presence that we feel rather than see.  And so it is with Christ, except that we can also see and feel Him.

I once asked an elderly, illiterate woman what the Eucharist meant to her.  She said to me, “The Eucharist tells me that I matter—that I count—that I am important and that God will never, ever forget me and that He will love me forever”.  And, what could ever beat that?


Homily # 2

This is the last Sunday of the Easter season. Next week we once again begin the readings for the Ordinary time of the year. It’s appropriate that we end the Easter season by re-visiting the upper chamber and recall what happened there when Jesus and His apostles gathered for the final triumphal meeting of His natural life.

Jesus left us with many miraculous legacies but none more confounding than the mystery of His body and blood. The legacy of mortal heroes is often represented by a physical place, the site of their tomb. The magnificent pyramids of Egypt are an outstanding example of men leaving a physical reminder of their power while on earth.

Other examples which come to mind are Grant’s Tomb in New York City and Lenin’s tomb in Moscow.

Does Jesus Christ have a famous “tomb”? No, He does not. Following His crucifixion, He was laid in a cave but that cave is not His tomb because His body did not remain there.

What message does that bring to all of us? It proves that His legacy remains as the most unique legacy of all time … He left us His body and His blood. Do we remember His life by consuming a wafer and drinking wine? No, that’s not what we do. Here, this morning, we relive those events of 2000 years ago by doing exactly what His disciples did that night. Bread is blessed, it is broken and the words of Jesus are as true today as they were that night so long ago, “Take it, this is My body.” He didn’t say, “This represents My body”. He said, “This IS my body.”

Many who do not believe that Jesus Christ was God will say, “That’s impossible!” And they would be correct IF … IF Jesus was not God.

Why no tomb? Why no one location? Because Christ lives … forever. This is very important to all of us — but especially the young people here today. We are all bombarded every day by concepts that deny Jesus Christ was God. For all of us, attendance at this Mass is the critical definition of our faith. Believing that what Jesus did 2000 years ago is repeated here this morning is the crucial difference between Catholicism and all the other religions of the world.

Do we really believe?

Let’s examine physical evidence. There is no single tomb for Jesus but, rather, there are hundreds of thousands of His tombs throughout the world. His body and His blood rest in the tabernacles in the Catholic Churches in all parts of the world. No individual has ever left as powerful a legacy.

Therefore, each of us must decide what our reaction to this phenomenon will be. We are privileged to receive His body and blood each time we receive communion. How important is that in each of our lives? How important will it be today?

What if Jesus had not given us His body and blood but, instead, had offered us a monetary reward, say $500, each time we came to His table? If we came every day that would be $180,000 a year. I think attendance at Mass might skyrocket under those circumstances.

But Jesus doesn’t offer a monetary reward does He? Rather, we will hear His words repeated later in our Mass, “This is My body….this is My blood….. do this in memory of Me!”

If receiving His body and blood is in “memory of Him”, it means that we should recall the specifics of His teachings while He was here on earth. We recall that He offers us something far greater than $180,000 a year … He offers us eternal life, with Him, in Heaven.

I will admit the monetary reward might seem very attractive. The young people here would never have to worry about getting a job. Mom and Dad wouldn’t have to worry about college tuitions and the senior citizens could pack your bags and head for Hawaii.

How do we decide which of the two rewards would be of most value to us? If we truly believe, there’s not much of a choice is there. Our life expectancy is what … 80 years?

That really doesn’t compare with eternity does it? There is no question which is the more valuable reward!

However, to receive this reward it would seem that we should very carefully examine the conditions Jesus gave to us. He asks that we keep His commandments, that we love one another as He loved us and that we take advantage of the strength He offers us by receiving His body and blood as often as we can.

Let’s go back. If we would receive $500 every time we came to our Lord’s table, how often would we be here? It’s rather scary thinking of it that way, isn’t it? To earn that much money an employer would expect each of us to be at work at least 8 hours a day,

5 days a week. He or she might require a bit of overtime, too.

And what does Jesus demand? Nothing! He leaves it all up to us as individuals. Do we believe He will reward us with everlasting life? We must make our own decision.

In a few months, some of you will leave your home and return to college. If each time you attend Mass and receive communion you would receive $500, would you go to Mass more often? That’s an interesting question.

Many of us will be going on vacation soon. If a family of 6 made sure they received communion each Sunday that would be $3000. That might pay for the vacation.

How much time does Jesus ask from us? Basically, He only asks, with drive time, about 2 hours a week. But if His promise and the reward of eternal salvation is so great wouldn’t it be wise to invest more of our time so we could receive that reward? It probably would.

So, I will make a few suggestions. Jesus understands we all have busy schedules. Probably not as busy as His schedule but He realizes we have to earn a living, raise a family and have some time for recreation. However, I do believe He expects us to receive His body and His blood every Sunday….even if our parents aren’t there.

I believe He might study our schedules and think, “Couldn’t they possibly set aside an extra hour a week and attend a daily Mass?” I believe Jesus would be very pleased with that.

But the most important aspect would be how it would effect our lives. Do we believe that receiving His body and blood would strengthen us spiritually? Do we believe we could find peace? Do we believe that we would find the strength to follow His commandment, “Love one another as I have loved you”? Do we believe a deeper faith would help us in our battle to remain chaste and to ignore the ungodly promises made by others in our modern society? Each of us must make those decisions.

As we approach His table, today, think about His promises. Compare those promises to anything else this world has to offer us .. wealth .. fame .. security .. leisure .. power.

Then, remember His words, “This IS (EMPHASIS) My body, this IS my blood. Do THIS in memory of Me!” Alleluia!


Homily # 3

The celebration of the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ always recalls fond memories of childhood for me. On this day all the family gathered at our grandmother’s house to prepare an altar and make ready for the procession which would stop in front of her house for benediction. It was an honor and a privilege that the family took most seriously. There was no doubt in the mind of anyone that Jesus, under the guise of bread, would go through our streets to bless and be present to His people. So profound was this belief that the streets where He would pass were swept and cleaned. As the procession rounded the corner to come down our street all of the spectators went to their knees to await His coming and His benediction.

Corpus Christi celebrates and reminds us that Jesus Christ is truly present to His people under the guise of bread and wine. The Gospel of Mark recalls for us today the words that Jesus spoke at the Last Supper. There surrounded by His Apostles, “he took bread, blessed it, broke it, gave it to them, saying, ‘Take it; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, gave thanks and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.’”

Since that moment almost 2000 years ago, believers have gathered around the table to speak His words — “This is my Body; This is my Blood.” These words spoken over gifts of bread and wine became the reality. For Jesus is truly and really present each time we celebrate the Eucharist; each time we gather to proclaim his death and rising until he comes again.

In just a few moments Jesus will be present again upon our altar table and what we eat and what we drink is the Body and Blood of Christ. What an extra-ordinary gift this is! He loved us unto death and continues to love us as he gives himself to us in this sacrament.

“Body of Christ. Amen.” “Blood of Christ. Amen.” As we approach the altar table we will hear these words repeated again and again. These are more than just words. They speak reality to us. The Body of Christ; the Blood of Christ are food and drink for us. They are nourishment and strength for the journey. They speak of our unity with Jesus and our unity with one another. They speak the reality of Him whom we receive – the Body of Christ; and of whom we are – the Body of Christ. What marvelous words these are! The Body of Christ feeds the Body of Christ.

We, His people, are the Body of Christ in the world today. We continue His mission in our world. Pope John Paul II wrote in an encyclical (Sollicitudo Rel Socialis): “All of us who take part in the Eucharist are called to discover, through this sacrament, the profound meaning of our actions in the world in favor of development and peace, and to receive from it the strength to commit ourselves even more generously following the example of Christ who in this sacrament lays down his life for his friends.” It is not enough to receive the Body of Christ we are invited to become the Body of Christ. Our Holy Father reminds us that it is not enough to gaze upon the Body of Christ, it is not enough even to receive the Body of Christ. We are called to be the hands and feet, the mouth and the heart of Christ in our world today. We are invited to make Him present to the world in the same way He makes Himself present to us in Eucharist.

Our unity with Jesus begins as we receive his Body and Blood. We are more fully united with Him as we experience and receive the Body of Christ in those around us – the hungry child; the Aids sufferer; the friend in need of consolation; the son or daughter forgiven. As we open our hearts to the Body of Christ in need throughout our world so are we more fully conformed to Jesus and more fully one with Him.

Sisters and brothers, the liturgy today strongly reminds us of the presence of Jesus in our midst. He is present to us in this sacrament that we celebrate as we receive His Body and Blood. Let us never doubt and never forget that in Eucharist we share God’s own life.


Homily # 4

There are, perhaps, three central mysteries to the Catholic faith. The first is Jesus Himself: God who became man and died for us. The second is the Trinity and the third is the Eucharist. The feast that we celebrate today is designed to heighten our awareness of the reality of Jesus present under the forms of bread and wine.

In the early Church there was almost universal consensus that Jesus was speaking literally when he said that the bread was his body and the wine was his blood. How this happened was totally irrelevant for the early Christian. That it happened was a not only a matter of faith, but a matter of personal experience. The Church Fathers, in writing about the Eucharist, wrote from first hand knowledge of the effect the Eucharist had on themselves and on their people.

It may be that in our sophisticated world we have moved so far that the Eucharist no longer speaks to us. In fact, some studies suggest that the vast majority of Catholics no longer believe that Jesus is really present under the forms of bread and wine thinking, instead, that this is some sort of symbolic presence. The lived experience of the Church says otherwise.

Not only do we have numerous Eucharistic miracles that we can point to, there are literally thousands and thousands of stories that can be told about the Eucharist and its reality. These stories have common themes — but they speak to an experience of the risen Lord encountered in times of trial.

Yes, perhaps the most telling reality of Jesus present under the form of bread and wine comes from the Gospels. Today’s Gospel features Matthew’s Passover meal and the rather simple statement that Jesus makes: “this is my body.” For some this may be hard to believe: but if we believe that God could take on the form of man and his nature, why is it so hard to believe that God could assume the form of bread and wine?

In the Gospel of John we hear Jesus say: “…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” The word Jesus uses for “eat” is an interesting Greek word: “phageete” (pronounced “pha-gie-tay”) which really means “to gnaw” — that’s an earthy term that certainly indicates the reality of Jesus present.

So, when you come to communion in a few minutes, focus on what you do and who you eat. We are, literally, “eating God” — and that’s a good thing. Nutritionists tell us that we are what we eat. For the good of our souls, let’s hope so!


Homily # 5

A young woman took care of her old aunt.  The aunt had inherited a fair amount of money from her deceased brother but never mentioned it to anyone.  On her death bed she summoned her niece.  “You’ve been good to me.  I want to reward you.  Take this frayed sweater of mine and wear it until you become rich. The niece expressed gratitude but was disappointed.  She felt her aunt could at least have left her a watch or a ring.  She buried the sweater in the bottom drawer of her bureau.  The aunt died.  A year later the niece put on the sweater while she did some yard work.  She felt something in the sweater pocket.  She found a key wrapped in a note.  In that box she found her aunt had given her legal title to a fortune of $300,000.

The moral of the story is that we often miss the treasures that are passed on to us because we do not take time to look.

The application of the story to the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ is the same.   We may miss the treasure of the Eucharist because we do not take the time to look or reflect on this mystery.  Each year the Church pauses to meditate on the Eucharist itself.  Though we celebrate Eucharist each Lord’s day, on this day we are drawn to ponder teachings and events about Christ.  We may  not always advert sufficiently to the Sacrament dwelling at the core of our weekly experience.

Eucharist makes present for us the saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We are able to be part of the act of redemption that occurred on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  We remember that sacrifice of Jesus and give thanks for it.  At the same time we may derive the sense of spiritual freedom that comes from that event.

The grace of Eucharist pours into us by our faith opening ourselves to Christ’s gift of Himself.  Our great Amen just before the Our Father states the we also are willing to die to sin and rise to life.

The altar setting is reminiscent of the sacrifice of Jesus.  At the same time, the table of the altar draws our attention to the meal aspect of what we are doing. The ritual of Eucharist grew out of the Seder and Passover meals of the Jews.  Thus we have bread and wine and a table around which we gather as though in a dinning room.

In fact, the first Christians for several centuries celebrated Eucharist at home, around the family table.  Only when Eucharist was moved to Churches did sacrificial altars appear, echoing the historic event of Calvary and the sacrifices of the lambs in the Jewish temple.

Thus we combine two aspects of our Eucharist experience: The historic sacrifice of Jesus and the ritual meal of the Christian Passover.  The historic sacrifice was the ultimate sign of Christ’s love for us.  A meal is always meant to be a sign of friendship and love, as well as a place to satisfy bodily hunger.

Hence our Eucharist is both a sacrifice and a meal — a sacrificial meal. Sacrificial love and Meal-Friendship love blend into one event.  The ritual meal remembers and makes present the ritual sacrifice.  The power of the Eucharistic ceremonies is meant to touch us at our deepest levels of awareness.

The imagery of food and meal was strongly made evident at Pope John Paul II’s Mass in Iowa’s living history farm.  The sight of fields ripe for harvest, the silos, the artwork reflecting the quilting talents of the farm women, the sheaves of wheat — all brought to mind the Eucharist as Living Bread, the meal of love made possible because of the sacrifice of love.  This is a special “thank you” day to Jesus for the gift of Eucharist.  May we learn to live the Eucharist by being the Living Bread of Love in our world.


Homily # 6

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, popularly known as “Corpus Christi Day.”  In this Holy Mass we should thank God in a special way for having remained with us in the Most Holy Sacrament.  The great theologians of history were not the ones who decided to celebrate this day.  The idea arose spontaneously through popular demand.  It was in the XIII century that Pope Urban IV officially instituted this great solemnity in the universal Catholic Church.

Since the beginning of the Church, common people have shown their faith in the real presence of Christ.  From this faith sprang the devotion to the Holy Eucharist not only in Mass but also outside of Mass.  Our Christian ancestors always believed that the Lord God was present in the tabernacle and we should do the same.  Christ is there.  And it is there that our adoration and love should be directed.

There are people who say, “Why should we celebrate the presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist?  Christ is present everywhere?”  Well, yes, Christ is present in all places.  We see his presence in nature and it is reflected in honest and true human relationships and, in a special way, he is present in the Catholic Church that he founded.  Anywhere in the world that the Church prays, teaches, preaches or does charitable work, the presence of the Lord is indisputable.  But, since that first Holy Thursday, since his Last Supper with the apostles, when Jesus took the bread and said, “this is my body,” and he took the cup and said, “this is my blood,” the Lord has been truly present, God and man, wholly and entirely, in the Holy Eucharist.  Since then, when the Holy Mass is celebrated, the bread and the wine are transformed, by the work of the Holy Spirit, into the Body and Blood of Our Lord.  This is a dogma of faith and anyone who does not believe this is either not Catholic or is Catholic in name only.

Our readings in Mass today help us to understand a little bit about the great mystery that we are celebrating.  But we cannot discern with our eyes the radical transformation that occurs when the bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of the Lord.  The presence of God under the appearance of bread and wine can only be perceived through faith.  Unfortunately, the devotion and respect that we, as Catholics, should have for the Holy Eucharist has notably diminished over the last few decades.  It is said that here, in this country, more than 50% of those who call themselves Catholic do not believe that during the Holy Mass the bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of the Lord.  And they do not believe that Jesus is present in the tabernacle.  This is the true origin of the crisis of faith that exists in this country and, unfortunately, in the rest of the world.  The Church, on various occasions, has tried to highlight the importance of showing in various ways the reverence we should have for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist: benediction with the Holy Eucharist, processions, prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, the genuflections that we should be making when we pass before the tabernacle, and the reverence that we should show when the tabernacle is opened.  In all of these ways we show our faith and adoration.

Today, on this Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, we come together here in community in the presence of our heavenly Father.  As we celebrate the sacrifice and the victory of Our Lord Jesus Christ, let us give this great day its true meaning.  May our attitude when we receive the Holy Eucharist today and always show that we really believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord.


Homily # 7

I wonder if any of you have had an experience like this.  You go to some affair and, as you are having a conversation with someone, they keep looking over your shoulder to see if someone ‘more important’ has arrived, so that they could speak with them.  Or, as we pass someone we know and say ‘hello’, they ignore us.  Doesn’t that just get your blood boiling?

To be sure, all of us, at one time or another, have been treated as if we didn’t count for much at all.  It hurts, doesn’t it?

But, there is something worse than being ignored.  Being forgotten is much worse, for example, than being ignored.  To be treated, not just of little significance, but of no significance at all-as if we didn’t exist at all-has got to be the absolute pits!

All of us want to be remembered, don’t we?  Well, so did Jesus.  At the Last Supper, when Jesus said, “This is My Body…This is My Blood…Do this in remembrance of Me”, He didn’t do it because of His own need to be remembered.  He did it because of the disciples (and our) need to remember Him.  In His love for us, Jesus left us a very special way to remember Him-namely, the Eucharist.

It’s no different than when loved ones have to leave each other.  What usually happens, besides big hugs and kisses and many tears?  They leave something of themselves behind-perhaps a picture or a locket, whatever.  And, there’s a symbolism here that says, “When you touch this, you’re touching me and, somehow, we’re together”.

And, that’s exactly what Jesus did.  He knew that He was going to die very soon.  As with all true love, He wanted to leave something-some way of being constantly present to His loved ones.  He wanted a way for us to know-really know and to really see and to really feel that He’s still here among us.  And, how great is that?!!

Ah, the Eucharist!  Through it a spiritual bond is forged between us and Jesus-between us and God Almighty.  As His Body and Blood are coursing throughout our body and blood, we are in a more intimate relationship with Christ than if He was just physically present to us, as He was to His disciples.  We’re not merely in communication with Him, but we’re also in communion with Him-Holy Communion.

And, basically, it’s as simple as that.  If we have a deep faith in Jesus-a deep faith in the Eucharist-we won’t need complicated religious systems or big words or faraway shrines or apparitions to bring us closer to God.  The Eucharist is Jesus-is God Himself.  The Eucharist is everything.  What more could anyone want?  I surely can’t think of anything else that would (or could) bring me closer to God.

So, how do we receive our Lord in the Eucharist?  Do we receive Him with wonder and awe and delight and, most of all, love?  Do we greet Him as our long lost lover who has just come back to us after being away?  Or, do we take Jesus for granted?  When we’re in line to receive Him, are we only ‘going to communion’ rather than ‘I’m in Holy Communion with Him’?  Which is it for you?

As I mentioned earlier, it’s a very sad situation to be ignored and worse yet to be completely forgotten.  Don’t disconnect yourselves from Jesus by taking Him for granted.  Don’t do it.  Memory connects us with people and events that are no longer present to us.  If we cherish the memory of our loved ones, they become present to us.  They’re not just a faded memory any longer.  They’re a real presence-a presence that we feel rather than see.  And so it is with Christ, except that we can also see and feel Him.

I once asked an elderly, illiterate woman what the Eucharist meant to her.  She said to me, “The Eucharist tells me that I matter-that I count-that I am important and that God will never, ever forget me and that He will love me forever”.  And, what could ever beat that?

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Moments
Dine-in or take-out?

By Fr. Jerry Orbos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:28:00 06/14/2009
THE STORY is told a bout a priest who, in giving communion to the faithful, would sometimes encounter communicants who would approach him with open hands and also with open mouths. How did he deal with the confusion? After saying, “The Body of Christ,” he would tell them: “OK. Make up your mind. Dine-in or take-out?”

* * *

Today is the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, also known as Corpus Christi Sunday. In today’s Gospel (Mk. 14, 12-16. 22-26) we hear of Jesus giving His body and blood to His disciples at the Last Supper. It was His way of saying that He was one and united with them. The same privilege is given to us now in the Eucharist. As He promised, He is with us, always.

* * *

We did not mean to be irreverent to the Eucharist with our opening joke in this column. In fact, the question “Dine-in or take-out?” underlines a very important point about our reception of the Eucharist, and that is, that the Eucharist should be both a dine-in and a take-out experience. We revere the Eucharist (devotional), and we also live the Eucharist in our daily lives (actual). We must integrate the contemplative and active aspect of the Eucharist in our lives. All our actions should lead to the Eucharist, and all our actions must proceed from our encounter and empowerment from the Lord in the Eucharist. In other words, the Eucharist is both a “sit-in” and a “to go” experience.

* * *

In view of the swine flu A(H1N1) virus which is prevalent these days, the Archdiocese of Manila has instructed that during Mass, communion would be received by the hand, and that there will be no holding of hands during the “Our Father.” Fine. But this does not in any way lessen nor remove from us two very important aspects of our Christian life, i.e., to receive the Lord with clean hearts and to extend our loving and helping hands to our brothers and sisters wherever we are, in whatever situation we are in.

* * *

The spirit of the Eucharist is that of sharing and love. I don’t see any of that in the planned convening of a constituent assembly by the House of Representatives. It is sad, infuriating and frustrating to see our so-called leaders abandoning their conviction because of commissions, their mission because of ambition, even their very creed because of greed. Is that why they call Congress the “lower house”? Wow. How low can you get?

* * *

June 19 is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I recently lost a good friend who was an ardent devotee of the Sacred Heart. Jess Corrales never missed his first Friday Mass, and the first thing he looked for in all his travels was a church. Even the logo in his cellphone was the image of the Sacred Heart. He loved the Sacred Heart, and he lived the Sacred Heart, spreading joy, generosity and life. The first time I met him in 1992 in Vancouver, he noticed my worn out shoes, and right away he told me “Father Jerry, come, let us get you a new pair of shoes.” Just like that. That was Jess – so free, spontaneous and generous.

* * *

June 20 is the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The purity and simplicity of heart of Mama Mary was the secret of her peace amid her many trials and sufferings. Some weeks ago, I met Ms Lucia Macam who, at the age of 95, still plays by heart classical piano pieces, and has such a clear mind and memory. Recently, I heard her confessions, then I gave her the advice and absolution. As I was about to leave, she called me over and said: “Father, you forgot to give me my penance.” Wow. Such clarity of mind and purity of heart!

* * *

By the way, we should not take lightly the recent hidden camera scandal. The fact is, there is a hidden camera on each one of us that sees all and records all. There is an eye that is all-seeing and a being that is all-knowing. This is a consolation for good people and a warning for bad people. Yes, there is divine justice. Sooner or later, it will catch up. Let us not lose heart nor should we envy those who prosper by evil ways.

* * *

A moment with the Lord:

Lord, remind me that the Eucharist is not just a meal to be shared, but a mission to be lived. Amen.

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Word Alive

Holy Eucharist

By FR. BEL R. SAN LUIS, SVD

June 8, 2012, 9:07pm

MANILA, Philippines — A True story is told about a lady named Brigitte Gerney. In 1985, while walking in a street of New York City, a construction crane fell, pinning her underneath. For six agonizing hours, paramedics frantically struggled to keep her alive until she could be removed from under the heavy crane.

During the ordeal Brigitte was given blood transfusions, fluids, and painkillers. But she asked for one specific thing and that was to receive Holy Communion. She was then taken to a hospital where doctors operated on her for another five hours and she eventually survived.

* * *

The crane accident was only one of the most recent of a series of mishaps Brigitte had experienced. Her son, who was barely 2 years old, drowned accidentally. Her husband died of cancer. Her father was killed in an automobile accident. Brigitte had an operation to remove a cancer and she had suffered multiple injuries in a cable car crash in Switzerland in 1982.

One would say this woman was born unlucky. But because of her indomitable faith, especially in the Eucharist, she survived all those ordeals.

* * *

This Sunday is the feast of “Corpus Christi,” a Latin term which literally means the “Body of Christ.” The feast commemorates our Lord giving His Body and Blood to nourish and strengthen us in our journey through life.

Like Brigitte in the above story, we sometimes encounter accidents, endure disappointments, or suffer tragedies. By ourselves, we could never survive. We need a higher power and spiritual energy.

* * *

It is unfortunate, however, that many Catholics fail to appreciate the value of this special gift. Sunday after Sunday, some people come to Mass but, for no reason, they refrain from receiving Holy Communion. The words of Jesus are clear: “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has everlasting life and I will raise him up on the last day” (Jn 6:55).

Hence, based on Jesus’ words this kind of “bionic” bread gives us not only strength but also eternal life.

* * *

In the 8th century, a Basilian monk doubted the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. While celebrating Mass one morning, after the two-fold Consecration, the priest was astounded to see the host transformed into live flesh and the wine into live blood. The miracle convinced the scared monk dramatically on the veracity of Christ’s Eucharistic Presence at Mass. This moved him to make penance.

* * *

In 1970-71 and later in 1981, a scientific investigation was conducted by the illustrious scientist Prof. Odoardo Linoli of the University of Siena and the result yielded that the flesh was real flesh and the blood real blood.

Since 1713, the Flesh has been mounted in an artistic silver Ostensorium conjoined to a covered cup containing the Blood globules and displayed at the main altar. In October, 2003, during a pilgrimage, I visited the place, Lanciano, site of the Eucharistic Miracle.

* * *

Do we really believe Christ’s presence in the Eucharist? May the feast of Corpus Christi be an opportunity for us to renew our appreciation of the Eucharist and its immense value in our life.

* * *

mb.com.ph/articles/361505/holy-eucharist

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SAKRAMENTO NG PAGKAKAISA: Reflection for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi Year B – June 10, 2012

Muli na namang pinagkaisa ng “Pambansang Kamao” ang ating bansa! Talagang kakaiba ang nangyayari kapag may laban si Manny Pacquiao, humihinto ang pag-ikot ng mundo: tigil putukan muna ang mga rebelde at sundalo ng gobyerno, day-off muna ang mga holdapers at snatchers, pahinga muna ang mabigat na traffic sa kalsada… lahat ay nakatunghay sa harap ng telebisyon, radyo at internet at malugod na sinusubaybayan ang bawat suntok at pag-ilag ng ating “bayani”. Tunay ngang pinagkakaisa ng “Pambansang Kamao” ang mamamayang Pilipino! Kung si Manny Pacquiao ay simbolo ng pagkakaisa nating mga Pilipino, Si Jesus naman sa Banal na Eukaristiya ang simbolo ng pagkakaisa nating mga Kristiyano! Kaya nga ang tawag din natin sa Banal na Sakramentong ito ay “Sacrament of Holy Communion”. Ang ibig sabihin ng communion ay pagkakaisa: COMMON na, UNION pa! Ano ang nagbubuklod sa atin sa Sakramentong ito? Walang iba kundi ang TIPAN na ginawa ng Diyos sa atin sa pamamagitan ng pag-aalay ng Kanyang katawan at dugo! Sa Lumang Tipan ang tipanang ito ay isinagawa sa pagwiwisik ng dugo ng susunuging handog sa dambana. Ang mga tao naman ay sabay-sabay na nagpapahayag ng kanilang pagsang-ayon at pagsunod sa utos ni Yahweh! Sa Bagong Tipan ay may pag-aalay pa ring nangyayari. Ngunit hindi na dugo ng hayop kundi ang dugo mismo ng “Kordero ng Diyos” ang iniaalay sa dambana. Sa pag-aalay ni Jesus ng Kanyang sarili sa krus ay ginawa niya ang natatangi at sukdulang pakikipagtipan ng Diyos sa tao! Kaya nga’t ang bawat pagdalo sa Banal na Misa ay pagpapanibago ng pakikipagtipan na ito. Hindi lang tayo nagsisimba para magdasal o humingi ng ating mga pangangailangan sa Diyos. Ang Diyos mismo ang nag-aalok ng Kanyang sarili upang ating maging pagkain at kaligtasan ng ating kaluluwa. Kaya nga nga’t hindi sapat ang magdasal na lamang sa loob ng bahay kapag araw ng Linggo. Hindi rin katanggap-tanggap ang ipagpaliban at pagsisimba sapagkat ito ay pagtanggi sa alok ng Diyos na makibahagi tayo sa Kanyang buhay! Katulad ng mga Judio sa Lumang Tipan, sa tuwing tayo ay nakikibahagi sa tipanang ito ay inihahayag naman natin ang ating buong pusong pagsunod sa kalooban ng Diyos. Ang Diyos ang nag-aalok ng buhay, tayo naman ay malugod na tumatanggap! Ito ang bumubuo ng COMMUNION sa pagdiriwang ng Banal na Misa. At sapagkat nagiging kaisa tayo ni Jesus sa pagtanggap natin sa Kanya sa Komunyon, inaasahan tayo na maging katulad ni Jesus sa ating pag-iisip, pananalita at gawa! Ngunit may higit pang inaasahan sa atin bilang mga miyembro ng Katawan ni Kristo, na sana tayo rin ay maging instrumento ng pagkakaisa sa mga taong nakapaligid sa atin. Marahil ay hindi kailanman mapapapantayan ang kakaibsng karisma ng ating pambansang kamao ngunit bilang Kristiyano ay maari naman nating matularan si Kristo. Tayo rin ay maaring maging daan ng pagkakaisa at kapayapaan sa pamamagitan ng pagpapatawad, pakikipagkasundo, pang-unawa na maari nating ibahagi sa ating kapwa. Pagkakaisang mananatili at hindi panandalian lamang. Pagkatapos ng laban ni Manny Pacquiao “back to bussiness” na naman ang mga magnanakaw at kriminal, balik putukan na naman ang mga sundalo at rebelde, buhol-buhol na naman ang trapik sa kalsada. Wala na namang pagkakaisa! Tanging si Jesus ang makapagbibigay sa ating ng tunay na pagkakaisa! Ang kanyang Kabanal-banalang Katawan at Dugo ang nagbubuklod sa atin bilang iisang katawan. Siya ang SAKRAMENTO NG PAGKAKAISA!

kiliti-ng-diyos.blogspot.com/2012/06/sakramento-ng-pagkakaisa-reflection-for.html

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Moments

Wheelchair Christians

By: Fr. Jerry M. Orbos
Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:54 pm | Saturday, June 9th, 2012

Someone noted recently that the rich and the powerful, no matter how many expensive and luxurious vehicles they have, will eventually end up in a wheelchair, helplessly or deliberately!

* * *

Today is the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ. In today’s Gospel (Mk. 14, 12-16, 22-26), Jesus gives specific orders to His disciples, and they follow. He is the head. We are His members. We are to rise up from our comfortable and convenient wheelchairs if so ordered by Him!

* * *

The Eucharist comforts us, but it should also challenge us. The Gospel today starts with the preparation for the Passover meal, the memorable encounter with Jesus in the Last Supper, and ends with the disciples going out with Jesus to the Mount of Olives to perform whatever mission or face the eventuality ahead of them.  The Eucharist should cleanse us, strengthen us, and empower us to carry out our mission.

* * *

In my travels, I can’t help but notice how some pilgrims would require wheelchair assistance in boarding or in alighting from the plane, but could walk for hours when it came to shopping time! In the same way, there are Christians who profess or practice our faith only if, or specially when, it is convenient, comfortable, popular or profitable to do so. Our Eucharistic devotion should not cause us to stagnate, but move us toward greater and deeper commitment to the Lord and to His people.

* * *

Being too “Massy” can become messy. I get the feeling that we are having too many Masses in our city centers, in offices, homes, and even in malls, and for almost any occasion or reason. This could get messy, especially if Masses are done in quantity at the expense of quality, on the part of the faithful and on the priest himself. When it comes to the Eucharist, go for quality, not quantity. Go and do it with devotion, not just for obligation.

* * *

I can’t help but remember with much admiration and gratitude our Indonesian Fr. Francis Madhu, SVD, who was killed on his way to celebrate Mass in a remote barrio in Kalinga on April 1, 2007. We remember, too, the many other priests and Eucharistic ministers who bring the Eucharist to the remotest barrios, risking life and limb for the nourishment of their brothers and sisters in Christ.

* * *

We also remember today missionaries who have left not only their wheelchairs but even their homes, friends, countries, and family members to bring the Eucharist to distant foreign lands, braving deprivation, loneliness, and even persecution. Yes, we thank all the people who have helped nourish our faith through the Eucharist.

* * *

Fr. Ron Sandoval, SVD from Sta. Teresita, Batangas, is our Filipino missionary to Vienna, Austria, which has a population of about 33,000 Filipinos. He has been there since September 2000. I have seen how he goes to different communities, especially on weekends, to celebrate Mass for our Filipino Catholic communities. This doctor of veterinary medicine from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, with a master’s degree in animal nutrition from Copenhagen, Denmark, left everything and everyone for the sake of the Gospel, bringing, through the Eucharist and by his very person, Christ’s presence and healing.

* * *

Take note that the Eucharist was instituted in the context of a meal. It would be good for us today as a family or as a community to reflect on our meals together. Do we still eat together? And what do we talk about during our meals? Perhaps it would be good to remind ourselves that the dining table is neither the place to discuss or solve our problems nor the place to talk about other people. Our meals should nourish us not only nutritionally but also emotionally and spiritually.

* * *

“Where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am in their midst.” Let us remember Christ’s presence during our meals, and in our conversations. Papa and Mama taught us to remember at every meal people who prepared the food before us, those who have nothing to eat, and those who have no appetite to eat.

* * *

Speaking of meals, how many of our leaders get the “lion’s share” of the wealth of our nation while the majority experience hunger and poverty every day? The Eucharist reminds us to share, and to give back to the people what is theirs. The Eucharist reminds us of payback time.

* * *

Manny Pacquiao is an admirable person who remains humble and God-fearing. Doubly admirable is that he earned his wealth through hard work, unlike so many of his colleagues in Congress who hardly work and just help themselves to public funds. “It is better to give than to receive.” As in boxing, so too in life!

* * *

When you are stressed with all sorts of requests and demands from other people, remember the Eucharist and your mission to share. When people remember you or come to you only when they need you, consider it a privilege to be given the opportunity to serve and to share.

* * *

A moment with the Lord:

Lord, give me the grace and the strength to leave my comfortable wheelchair when I am called by You to serve and to share. Amen.

opinion.inquirer.net/30353/wheelchair-christians

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See Today’s Readings:  Cycle B

Back to: Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Year B)

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2 Responses to Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Year B)

  1. Fr. Lwanga Makoboza says:

    very enriching and inspiring reflections. thanks so much

  2. Mohan vincent says:

    Thank you for Sharing Fr. Munachi’s reflection.

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