May 29, 2016 The Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ Fr Jim Miller

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ May 29, 2016

Reading 1 Gn 14:18-20

Responsorial Psalm Ps 110:1, 2, 3, 4

  1. (4b) You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek. Reading 2 1 Cor 11:23-26

Lo! the angel’s food is given To the pilgrim who has striven; see the children’s bread from heaven, Alleluia Jn 6:51

Gospel Lk 9:11b-17

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Homily— May 28 & 29, 2016     The Body and Blood of Christ Sunday

   Sometimes we hear people say something like “I don’t have to attend Mass to be a good Catholic”.   I am not sure how long I could be a good Catholic if I deliberately chose not to attend Mass.   This weekend we are reminded about what it is that makes us uniquely Catholic—our celebration of the real presence of Jesus Christ in the midst of the gathered community. It is in the Eucharist that we come to share in Jesus’ offer of salvation.

   I was reading an article that stated “most Catholics truly do not have a deep appreciation of what the Eucharist is”.   This was already a problem among the Corinthians too and Paul sought to remind them of what the Eucharist is.

   Christians celebrated and shared in “the meal” from the very beginning.  The meal was critical to them for it served as a “remembrance,” an occasion to share in the life of Jesus Christ. But, while the Corinthians continued to celebrate the meal, they had begun to forget its significance.         

   Paul writes to the Corinthians saying “I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you”.  He is saying that he wasn’t making things up, he was passing on something intended by Jesus Christ to be passed on.

   A “remembrance,” as in “do this in remembrance of me,” is a very special act.   To “remember” something God had done was, in effect, to remember God himself.  It made a past event present and thus enabled those who came later to share in the saving act of the moment.

   When we attend Mass, when we tell the story of the Last Supper in the Eucharist, our faith community remembers what Jesus did for us.  This remembering makes us present to the moment, and thus the saving act of Jesus is made present to us so that we can share in it.  Every time we receive the Eucharist, we share in the body of Christ which was given up for us.  How can we refuse to participate in something that makes Jesus immediately and physically present?

   Pope Francis writes, “Jesus gives his Body and his Blood by means of the bread and the wine, to leave us the memorial of his sacrifice of infinite love. . .The Body of Christ is the bond which unites you to him:  eat it, or you will have no part in him.  The Blood is the price he paid for your redemption:  drink it, lest you despair of your sinfulness. . . We are torn from him when we are not obedient to the Word of the Lord, when we do not live brotherhood between us, when we race to occupy the first places, when we do not find the courage to witness to charity, when we are unable to offer hope. . . The Christ present in our midst, in the signs of bread and wine, requires that the power of love exceed every laceration, and at the same time that it become communion with the poor, support for the weak, fraternal attention to those who are struggling to carry the weight of everyday life. . . .Let us look to him, let us drink deep draughts from his source, that we might be preserved from the risk of corruption.  Then shall we experience the grace of transformation:  we will remain always poor sinners, but the blood of Christ will deliver us from our sins and give us back our dignity.”

   In the Gospel Jesus taught the crowds and “healed those who needed to be cured.”  Our need for Jesus and what he gives us, however, goes beyond teaching and healing.  Even more, we need the food Jesus gives in unfathomable abundance.  This food sublimely satisfies us.  Yet even more:  it transforms us into being the “leftover fragments”—the Body of Christ—continuing Jesus ministry of giving self over for others.

   The Twelve are taught by Jesus’ word and example that they themselves are to be the “leftover fragments” that nourish others.  Jesus makes clear God’s intention for us.  “Give them some food yourselves.”  He is really saying, “Give them the good that is yourselves.”  Perhaps the amazement of this gospel and feast is that God so willingly chooses us humans to make known divine superabundance and blessing.

   We are food for others when we satisfy their hunger for deeper relationships, their hunger for appreciation, their hunger for meaning in life.  In these and many other ways we are truly the Body of Christ making present his love, his graciousness, and his nourishment.

   How can you be a healthy “leftover Jesus” for others that you meet this week?