Fr. Rick’s Homily: Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

June 11, 2023

Dt 8:2-3, 14b-16a; Ps 147:12-15, 19-20; 1 Cor 10:16-17; Jn 6:51-58

Today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.  It’s a day when we especially affirm that the Eucharist IS the real presence of the body, blood, soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.  In the consecration of the bread and wine through a process defined as transubstantiation, the bread and wine actually become the true body and blood of Jesus, though it still has the appearance of bread and wine.  Now forever, the consecrated host is the real presence of Jesus Christ.  This is why we repose the unconsumed hosts in a tabernacle until they are needed for various ministries to people who cannot get to Mass.

This is all a miracle and cannot be understood or accepted except through faith.  Faith is a gift and probably every one of you in the church today has that gift.  Probably the majority of Catholics we have known in our lifetime, sadly, do not have this faith.  A fairly recent survey indicated that around 70% of American baptized Catholics do not believe in the real presence.

Hey.  Heck with ‘em!!  It’s not our fault that they don’t have the gift.  Right?  Of course not!!  As baptized Catholics, we are all called to be disciples and missionaries and teachers.  We must teach with right doctrine for sure, but just as importantly, we must teach by example.  By personal and community witness.

Besides receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in the Mass, we are also called to become One Body; One Spirit in Christ as it states in the Eucharistic prayers.  Each Mass is a very holy moment of transformation.  The bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. When we receive the Eucharist worthily we are transformed into the Body of Christ. Then at the end of Mass we are sent out to transform the world with the very power and presence of Jesus Christ, true God and true man.  We are supposed to make the world look more like heaven than hell.  We call this ‘building up the Kingdom of God’.

Of course we have been hearing and talking about this great commission ever since Easter.  First of all in Christ’s death and Resurrection, He defeats the power of sin and Satan’s control over us.  Jesus is faithful to the commands of the Father throughout His life, even to the very point of His excruciating death.

Three weeks ago on the Feast of the Ascension St. Paul announced to the Ephesians and to us:  “May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call,” Eph. 1:17-23  He is talking about a whole new way of seeing.

Also on the Ascension, Jesus declares in Matthew’s gospel, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”  This is the great commission that we receive at the end of each Mass.  Mt. 28:16-20.  Go the Mass is ended.

Two weeks ago on the Feast of Pentecost St. Paul declared to the Corinthians and to US, “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit…. As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.1 Cor.12

In Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and to the Romans he identifies 23 different ‘charisms’ of the Holy Spirit, (depending how you count them).

They include (as delineated by the well-known Sienna Institute):  Encouragement; Hospitality; Helps; Pastoring; Mercy, Evangelism; Prophecy; Teaching, Giving; Leadership; Service; Administration, Healing; Intercessory Prayer, Knowledge; Wisdom; Discernment of Spirits, Celibacy; Faith; Missionary; Voluntary Poverty, Craftsmanship; Music; Writing.

These charisms can be seen as pieces of kindling that when piled together they can be easily ignited into a large flame that give off real heat and light.  If they are merely scattered around they could probably be lit for a time, but they would only do so dimly and briefly.  When infused together the charisms produce something new that the Church and the world needs.

To identify and develop these charisms constitute a major work of the Church and is essential for us to BECOME One Body, One Spirit in Christ.  To be a genuinely Eucharistic People.

In Mark’s gospel two weeks weeks on Pentecost, Jesus declares: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

And we are sent as Jesus was sent and given all the power needed to do so.  At that moment, when we RECEIVED the Holy Spirit, we were sealed with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. This occurred at our Confirmation.

Of course, on Trinity Sunday last week, we were reminded that our Trinitarian God -Father , Son and Holy Spirit- IS a relationship.  God is not just IN a relationship, but IS a relationship. If we are made in the image and likeness of that God, then we too are a relationship.  Although we are all individuals and have unique gifts, we really have no identity outside of this radically interdependent Communion of Church.

This whole progression of liturgies during Easter season and throughout these Solemnities enable us to be our fullest selves:  The Body of Christ.  An often quoted line of St. Augustine declares: “Receive what you are and become what you receive.”

This is how we evangelize the world.  Those of us who have the gift of faith have an awesome responsibility.  This is how we make believable the real presence to the 70% of Catholics who don’t believe. This is how we evangelize everyone else, too.  By BEING the collective bundle of kindling that together creates real light and heat. When we create the type of communities that Holy Communion implies.  When we go forth after Mass with a real sense of mission.  With the actual Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding and Power of God.  As St. Paul reminds us, we will see with the ‘eyes of our hearts’.  We will see the world and each other the way that God sees us.

We can tend to forget how awesome we all are, so we can understand why God made it a Commandment to keep holy the Sabbath.  And for Catholics that includes participating at Mass.  We need the type of spiritual nourishment to get to heaven, to stay connected and to stay focused on our mission outside the front door of the church.  That’s why the US Bishops have called the three-year Eucharistic Revival

The first reading today from Deuteronomy reminded the Israelites that God often lets the people experience many afflictions so that they could stay aware of their utter dependence on God.  Without the Commandments and the Sacraments, we too will be slaves to the forces of the material and sensate world.  We won’t be able to resist the many ungodly allurements. We do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.  We are given much more than the manna in the desert.  We are given the very body and blood of Jesus Christ Himself.

Our world is in a state of serious affliction and confusion and God has called us out to set the world free. There are several reflection questions offered in the bulletin today to consider throughout the week how we might proceed with our mission. 

Let us now continue with this holy mass and prepare to receive the Bread of Life; our sacred food for the journey.

Reflection Questions for Corpus Christi Sunday

What conversion of mind, heart, and life is the Lord asking of me?

The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. How is my faith nourished? How do I help others nourish their faith?

The Jews quarreled among themselves. What signs of division do I see in my family, parish, or community? How can I be a peacemaker in the communities where I live and work?

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. What can I do this week to grow closer to Jesus? How can I receive the Eucharist with greater devotion?

Living the Word This Week: How can I make my life a gift for others in charity?

Spend an hour in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

Taken from divina/Corpus Christi