Homily: Corpus Christi – Cycle C
Last Sunday, the Church gave us the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, where we were invited to consider the mystery of who God is in himself. In doing so, we remembered once again that who God is in himself is inseparably linked to us, his creatures, in whom he delights. This good news gave us joy and we recommitted ourselves to celebrate this joy with others. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, another feast in which we celebrate who God is in himself, but which reveals to us another aspect of the mystery of God.
In this feast—also known as Corpus Christi—the Church invites us to consider the mystery of who God is for us. In this feast, we celebrate that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, left for us a memorial of his Sacrifice on the Cross: a memorial that allows us to participate in that same sacrifice—and the salvation that it won for us—by re-presenting it to the Father in the form of the bread and wine, offered from our hands and then transformed by the words of the priest into the Body and Blood of Christ, and then by partaking in those gifts when we receive from the altar what God has blessed and made abundant for us.
We also celebrate, of course, that the Body and Blood of Christ represents for us the enduring, physical presence of Jesus among us: that in churches and chapels around the world men and women can come and be in the physical presence of God, to commune with him in silent adoration and to be strengthened in faith. This is a rich mystery for us to consider; one we should contemplate regularly. For our purposes here today, however, I’d like to offer three things that this feast should inspire in us in our daily lives.
First, this feast should inspire in us awe and wonder. The disciples in the Gospel today were amazed that the five loaves and two fish that Jesus blessed were miraculously multiplied and that they not only satisfied the five thousand men (not to mention any women and children who were there) but that there was left over enough to fill twelve wicker baskets. Jesus performs another miraculous transformation for us when, through the hands and words of the priest who stands in his place, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, the meager gifts of bread and wine have their very substance changed and become Jesus’ Body and Blood, his real presence, right before our eyes. That this presence endures—and that we can not only receive him into our bodies, but also remain in his presence long after the Mass has ended—is something that should amaze us as well. For this is only possible by God’s grace and through his great love and care for us. That God would consider us, his creatures, so… loveable that he would deign to share this with us is truly an awesome mystery.
Thus, the second thing that this feast should inspire in us is thanksgiving. Just like in our first reading when the priest Melchizedek made an offering of thanksgiving that God had allowed Abram to conquer all of his enemies, so we, too, come here to offer thanks that God, through the sacrifice of his Son, has conquered our greatest enemy: sin and death. Yet we go even further and we give him thanks that he has left us the Body and Blood of his Son to be a memorial for us of this great gift of victory; a gift which is ever present and available to us to strengthen us and to inspire our daily lives. This is a true gift: one by which daily we should be humbled. The most appropriate response to this gift is to give thanks, which we do most perfectly when we celebrate the Holy Eucharist.
True, authentic thanksgiving, however, always leads us to respond in kind: that is, to pay it forward. Just as Abram responded to the thanksgiving offering of Melchizedek by offering ten percent of everything he had, so we, too, are called to respond by making a generous offering of ourselves, pouring out our lives in service of God, Our Father, who so generously fills us with his gifts. Yet, how often do we fail, like the disciples did in the Gospel, and convince ourselves that our meager gifts, our talents, aren’t enough to make a difference? How often do we say, “I’m not very good at anything” or “I don’t have much to give, so why bother?” when what we should be saying is “Here, Lord, it isn’t much, but it’s what I have.” We forget, don’t we, to give what little we have to Jesus. We think that we have to prove something to him and so we assume that our little portion won’t go too far. But when we give it to Jesus, what happens? He multiplies it, of course! So much so that it spills over to become more than is needed.
My brothers and sisters let us not lament our small gifts, but rather our small faith! Better yet, let us bring our small faith to Jesus, even if we have doubts, and place it in his hands. Because when we do, as he did with the loaves and the fish, Jesus will bless it and multiply it so much that it fills baskets with what is left over: even after countless others have been nourished by it.
This, my friends, is our invitation today on this feast of Corpus Christi: an invitation to be amazed that the God who created the universe would come to us, his creatures, under the appearance of simple bread and wine—gifts that we can consume; an invitation to give thanks for this awe-inspiring gift; and an invitation to respond, offering our meager gifts to Jesus so that he can multiply them for the good of many. It is an invitation that, this year, is being extended and deepened as we inaugurate a national Eucharistic Revival here in the United States. The purpose of this revival is “to renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist”. Over the next two years, we will work to realize this goal at both the diocesan and the parish level, culminating with a national Eucharistic Congress, in which we will celebrate the renewal that we have experienced by giving glory to God. Your participation is crucial, and so I hope that you will each respond to the initiatives that will be offered, for both your good and the good of the Church.
Friends, this feast and the Eucharistic Revival that we inaugurate today are signs that the Good Lord never ceases to invite us into deeper relationship with him. Let us, then, respond with the same “yes” as Mary did, a “yes” filled with awe and wonder, so that we, like her, may produce a great harvest through the grace of God working in us—the grace that we receive when we receive the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ from this altar.
Given in Spanish at St. Paul Parish: Marion, IN – June 18th, 2022
Given in Spanish at Our Lady of the Lakes Parish: June 19th, 2022