02 June 2013

Corpus Christi Homily

For the moment, I'm going to attempt to post each of the homilies I deliver as a deacon.  We'll see how it goes.  Doing so, I hope, will encourage me to write the homilies out -- which will thus keep my motor mouth from getting carried away.  Of course, I'm not a "reader," so one homily never comes out the same.  But, everyone will likely get the gist of how I attempted to break open the Word.  As always, comments are welcome.

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Year C
June 1-2, 2013
Genesis 14: 18-20
1 Cor. 11:23-26
Lk. 9:11b-17


1.     It goes old, doesn’t it?  This business of multiplying loaves and fishes.  And you know, perhaps it should.  After all, there are six versions of this story in the four Gospels. 

a.      The formula goes simply like this: Jesus teaches, people follow, people get hungry, and the Apostles break into panic. Jesus takes a little bit of some food and performs a true miracle, making a lot where there was only a little.

b.     It’s not all that different in a practical way from the Eucharist – we come here week after week – maybe more, maybe less, but the same thing keeps happening: same readings, same preaching, same line of people up to communion and back.

c.      And so, today with multiplication of loaves and a day in the Church’s calendar directed specifically toward the Eucharist, perhaps we could be forgiven if we think today is just another day.  But yet there is a challenge in all this that is easy to miss.  When the disciples are confused and do not know that to do, Jesus provides for them a challenging message: “Give them some food yourselves.”

2.     This miracle, however, is not dead on the page, as if it were some type of history.  No, what we hear today is much more because it is an account of what will happen in our lives here and now:

a.      This is a first-hand of an experience of this Kingdom.  What’s more, each time we come to mass and receive the Eucharist, we receive this living reminder of what life will be like when God scores his final victory. Our “Amen” to the Body of Christ points out to us exactly what our lives will be like when the Lord comes again.  When the Risen Lord pours himself out into the Eucharist, all ills are conquered.  By receiving communion, we receive the first fruits of the Kingdom of God – we get a taste of what heaven will be like.

b.     The really challenging part of God’s message to us through the Scriptures today is that the Lord receiving in the Eucharist is victorious, but also completely poured out, emptied, broken, beaten and humble.  This is what real love looks like.  I teach Confirmation classes to our seventh and eighth graders in South Boston and the bishop this year said something at the Confirmation mass that I think really bears remembering: “Good loves always involves suffering.”

c.      This is the reality of what is happening here today: we get to see good love and its consequences: from the adulation of the filled multitudes, to the scandal of the Cross to the glory of the Resurrection.

d.     The Feast of Corpus Christi, then, points out what happens when we take the Eucharist seriously and allow it to work on us.  When we consume the Body of Christ, it is really us who will are consumed.  If we leave here no different than we entered, we have certainly received the Body of Christ, but we’ve missed the point.  Here in this place we are receive the necessary example to imitate what we receive: the healing, saving Body of Christ in a broken and battered world.  We are re-commissioned each and every Sunday to be what we receive: the Body of Christ.   

3.     It is important to remember that in today’s Gospel, Jesus first asks the Apostles for what they have.  They turn over their meager items of food; Jesus then takes it, blesses it, breaks it and gives it – back to them.  The twelve then pass out what is theirs, but it is not just a few loaves any longer.  Now, their bread and fish are able to fill the multitudes.

4.     What we heard today is not simply a story of a miracle of the good old days: it alerts us to two current and inescapable realities that are once again present among us because we are followers of Jesus:

a.      Jesus is God and thus is able to take what we have and transform it into something more; and

b.      At the same time, Jesus will take everything that we have.  If we truly enter into a Eucharistic state of mind, then nothing is ours any longer.  The Lord has given and the Lord will take.  And then give back, perhaps in a completely different form.  The question is, my brothers and sisters, are we ready?  Are we willing?

5.     We meet the Lord consistently and always in his Body and Blood; we too meet him in the people to whom we are sent to feed on a daily basis.  And for them, we truly become the Risen Lord, the same Risen Lord who we receive in the Eucharist.  There will be many people that we meet on a regular basis outside of these four walls for whom we will be the only experience they have of the Body of Christ.  We are strengthened here so that we may carry to others what we have received. 
6.     The Celebration of the Body and Blood of Christ is just that – a remembrance of what God has done for us as well as a reminder of what we will do for God’s people: these are two inseparable realities.  Let’s delay no longer and approach the table of the Lord and be nourished.

7.     And then, tomorrow at work, or at home, or in the school yard, or on the street, as we’ve been strengthened by the Eucharist so that we are in fact the Body of Christ.  Let us remember the Lord’s command to you and to me upon seeing the hungry multitudes: feed them yourselves.  Or, if you have no food, GIVE THEM YOUR OWN SELVES.


Anonymous said...

I'm curious: What, if anything, do they teach seminarians about the length of homilies? I've heard a general guideline is that each part of the mass should be about equal. Also, do you every think you'll just wing it? The best priest I've known who had great homilies always said he never wrote down his homilies, he it was just the Holy Spirit that guided what he said.

Chris J.

john said...

Thanks for the Eucharistic realties proclaimed so well. Beautiful that our Holy Father is asking us too to live Eucharistically united to Jesus, to pour ourselves out and to use our lives to heal and caress the wounded. Like Francis of Assisi and Clare. Like Jesus showed us. Jesus feed us, use us, and make us extensions, streams of
His saving presence in the world. Peace, brother! J

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