The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ [B] (June 6) One page summary
Importance: 1) The last two precious gifts given to us by Jesus are the Holy Eucharist as our spiritual food on Holy Thursday and Jesus’ mother Mary as our spiritual mother on Good Friday 2) Corpus Christi is the celebration of the abiding presence of a loving God as Emmanuel – God with us – in order to give collective thanks to our Lord for his living with us in the Eucharist. 3) The feast also gives us an occasion to learn more about the importance and value of the “Real Presence” so that we may appreciate the Sacrament better and receive maximum benefit from the Eucharist
We believe in the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist because 1) Jesus promised it after miraculously feeding the 5000. 2) Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist during his Last Supper. 3) Jesus commanded his disciples to repeat it in his memory. 4) “Nothing is impossible for God.”
We explain the real presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist by: “transubstantiation” which means that the substance of the consecrated bread and wine is changed to the substance of the risen Jesus’ glorified Body and Blood by the action of the Holy Spirit, and its accidents (like color, shape, taste etc.), remain the same.
Scripture lessons: This year's readings for the Feast emphasize the theme of Covenant blood because the ancient peoples sealed Covenants with the blood of ritually sacrificed animals, and Jesus sealed his New Covenant with his own Blood shed on Calvary. Today’s first reading describes how Moses, by sprinkling the blood of a sacrificed animal on the altar and on the people, accepted the Covenant Yahweh proposed and made with His People. In the second reading, St. Paul affirms that Jesus sealed the New Covenant with his own Blood, thereby putting an end to animal sacrifices. Today’s Gospel details how Jesus converted this ancient ritual into a Sacrament and sacrifice. Instead of the lamb’s blood, Jesus offered his own Divine/human Body and Blood, and instead of sprinkling us with blood, Jesus put it into our hands as food and drink: "Take … eat … this IS my Body which will be given up for you" (He did not say "This represents my body”), and "Take … drink …This is … my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal Covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many….” (nor did He say, “This represents my blood…”).
A Sacrament and a sacrifice: Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist both as a sacramental banquet and a sacrificial offering. As a Sacrament, a) the Eucharist is a visible sign that gives us God’s grace and God’s life and, b) as a Meal, The Eucharist nourishes our souls. As a sacrifice a) the Eucharistic celebration is a re-presentation or re-enactment of Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary, completed in His Resurrection. b) We offer Jesus’ sacrifice to God the Father for the remission of our sins, using signs and symbols.
Life messages: 1) Let us appreciate the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, by receiving him with true repentance for our sins, due preparation and reverence.
2) Let us be Christ-bearers and conveyers: By receiving Holy Communion, we become Christ-bearers as Mary was, with the duty of conveying Christ to others at home and in the workplace, through love, mercy, forgiveness and humble and sacrificial service.
3) Let us offer our lives on the altar along with Jesus’ sacrifice, asking pardon for our sins, expressing gratitude for the blessings we have received and presenting our needs and petitions on the altar.
THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST [B]
(EX. 24:3-8, HEBREWS 9:11-15, MARK: 14:12-16, 22-26)
Homily starter anecdotes # 1: “I would like to say Mass.” Dominic Tang, the courageous Chinese archbishop, was imprisoned for twenty-one years for nothing more than his loyalty to Christ and Christ’s one, true Church. After five years of solitary confinement in a windowless, damp cell, the Archbishop was told by his jailers that he could leave it for a few hours to do whatever he wanted. Five years of solitary confinement and he had a couple of hours to do what he wanted! What would it be? A hot shower? A change of clothes? Certainly, a long walk outside? A chance to call or write to family? What would it be, the jailer asked him. “I would like to say Mass,” replied Archbishop Tang. [Msgr. Timothy M. Dolan, Priests of the Third Millennium (2000), p. 216]. The Vietnamese Jesuit, Joseph Nguyen-Cong Doan, who spent nine years in labor camps in Vietnam, relates how he was finally able to say Mass when a fellow priest-prisoner shared some of his own smuggled supplies. “That night, when the other prisoners were asleep, lying on the floor of my cell, I celebrated Mass with tears of joy. My altar was my blanket, my prison clothes my vestments. But I felt myself at the heart of humanity and of the whole of creation.” (Ibid., p. 224). Today’s feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus constantly calls us beyond ourselves to sacrificial love for others. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
# 2: The greatest work of art in St. Peter’s Basilica: One of the seminarians who gives tours of St. Peter’s told me of an interesting incident. He was leading a group of Japanese tourists who knew absolutely nothing of our Faith. With particular care he explained the great masterpieces of art, sculpture and architecture. He finally concluded at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel trying his best to explain quickly what it was. As the group dispersed, an elderly man, who had been particularly attentive stayed behind, and said, “Pardon me. Would you explain again this ‘Blessed Sacrament?’” Our student did, after which the man exclaimed, “Ah, if this is so, what is in this chapel is a greater work of art than anything else in this basilica.”’ [Msgr. Timothy M Dolan in Priests of the Third Millennium, (2000), p. 226.]Today’s feast of Corpus Christi is intended to make us value and appreciate the worth of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
# 3: Communion on the moon: The Lord's Supper ensures that we can remember Jesus from any place. Apollo 11 landed on the moon on Sunday, July
20, 1969. Most remember astronaut Neil Armstrong's first words as he stepped onto the moon's surface: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." But few know about the first meal eaten on the moon. Dennis Fisher reports that Buzz Aldrin, the NASA Astronaut had taken aboard the spacecraft a tiny pyx provided by his Catholic pastor. Aldrin sent a radio broadcast to Earth asking listeners to contemplate the events of the day and give thanks. Then, blacking out the broadcast for privacy, Aldrin read, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit." Then, silently, he gave thanks for their successful journey to the moon and received Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, surrendering moon to Jesus. Next, he descended on the moon and walked on it with Neil Armstrong. (Dan Gulley: "Communion on the Moon": Our Daily Bread: June/July/August 2007). His actions remind us that in the Lord's Supper, God's children can share the life of Jesus from any place on Earth — and even from the moon. God is everywhere, and our worship should reflect this reality. In Psalm 139 we are told that wherever we go, God is intimately present with us. Buzz Aldrin celebrated that experience on the surface of the moon. Thousands of miles from earth, he took time to commune with the One who created, redeemed, and established fellowship with him. (Dennis Fisher)