Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ
June 18, 2017
Reading 1DT 8:2-3, 14B-16A
Responsorial PsalmPS 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20
- (12) Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
Reading 21 COR 10:16-17
- Alleluia, alleluia.
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ June 18 Father’s Day I want to say Happy Father’s Day to all Fathers and those who have taken on the role of a father in someone’s life. As you know, a father can have a tremendous influence in a person’s life. I was fortunate to have a very positive influence from my father. He will be 84 this year and still in good health. He taught me a lot about the love and commitment required to raise a family. His example of faith and resilience continue to be an inspiration for me today. As we reflect on Father’s Day and the blessings of family we are reminded that God uses the family to teach us about His love for us. The feelings of love and concern we develop in a family are powerful forces that should guide our lives. What’s even more powerful is the love and concern that God has for us. The Bible is full of these examples of God’s love and our readings today are no exception. They remind us that God sent His only Son to die for us. The death and Resurrection of Jesus was necessary to redeem us from the sin brought into the world by Adam and Eve but the story does not end there. After Jesus ascended into heaven we were left with 2 incredible gifts as a daily reminder of God’s love. These Divine gifts can give us strength each day and help us grow in faith during our mortal lives in this world. The 1st gift is the Holy Spirit. We celebrated His role in our daily lives 2 Sunday’s ago at Pentecost. The 2nd gift is Jesus Himself in the Eucharist. Today is Corpus Christi or the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. This feast day is special because we honor a foundational truth of the Catholic Church: the Body and Blood of Jesus is truly present in the bread and wine we consume at Mass. This special celebration was started by Pope Urban IV in 1264. One of the events that inspired this feast day was a Eucharistic miracle that happened during a Mass in 1263 in Italy. A priest was celebrating Mass at the tomb of St. Christina and when he raised the host, blood started to trickle over his hands and onto the altar. After a year of investigations, the miracle was confirmed and led to our celebration today. One of the most famous Eucharistic miracles happened 500 years earlier during a Mass in Lanciano, Italy. After pronouncing the words of consecration, the priest had a strong temptation to doubt the Real Presence of Jesus. Before the startled priest’s eyes the Sacred Host visibly changed into a circle of Flesh. The consecrated wine was transformed into bright red Blood and coagulated into 5 small clots. Four separate authentications have taken place over the years and the most recent was in 1970. The Flesh was found to be cardiac muscle tissue. The Flesh and the Blood are human blood type AB and have survived for 1200 years without decomposing. They are still on display in the church in Lanciano. I believe some of you saw this last fall during your pilgrimage to Italy with Father Jim. These miracles happened a long time ago but I was surprised to find several recent examples. Many Eucharistic miracles have been approved by the Church and dozens more have been reported and are being investigated. The most recent report was from Poland in 2013. There are many books and websites if you are interested in learning more. The website Miraclehunter.com is a great reference. You may have seen the founder Michael O'Neill on EWTN. Reading today’s Gospel and hearing about Eucharistic Miracles may convince our minds but the bigger challenge is to know and accept this truth in our hearts. Believing with our hearts and minds that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist is a leap of faith. The connection between mind and heart is not always an easy one to make but it can be done. If you have doubts about the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and want to explore this more in your spiritual life consider this challenge. Like anything worthwhile, it will take some initiative: 1. If you haven’t been for a while, go to Reconciliation. There’s nothing like a good confession to open your heart to God’s grace. 2. Ask God for help. Our faith can be challenging but praying for the gift of understanding can help. 3. Consider going to Mass twice per week. I know some of you attend daily Mass already but if you haven’t been for a while, take this challenge. Go on the weekend as you usually do and find another time that is convenient throughout the week. Nativity has Mass every weekday morning at 6:30am and Saturdays at 8am. St. Pat’s has a noon Mass on Tuesday and Thursday. Most people find weekday Masses very peaceful. The people at weekday Mass are there because they want to be, not because of an obligation. This can create a very prayerful atmosphere where you can reflect on the Eucharist and all that it means. 4. My next suggestion is something to reflect on when you go back to your pew after Communion. Spend a few minutes in silence and put yourself into the scene at the Last Supper. Envision yourself as the beloved disciple John. The Gospel of John tells us he was sitting next to Jesus during the Last Supper. At one point he leaned back against Jesus’ chest to talk to Him. As you put yourself into this scene, imagine what it felt like to be that close to our Lord and what He might say to you. 5. My last suggestion may be the easiest one and I’m sure some of you are already doing it: spend some time in Eucharist Adoration at the Power of Prayer chapel next to St. Anthony’s. The doors are open 24/7 and our Lord is always waiting for you to come and visit Him in the Eucharist. These are a few ways to dig deeper into this beautiful mystery of our faith. The deeper we dig the more treasure we find. As we celebrate the Eucharist today, may we more fully appreciate this Heavenly gift and the chance to grow closer to God.