Feast of Corpus Christi
Deacon Tom Vert
Preached: June 14, 2020
It’s just not the same!
I remember my father years ago saying this to me. He was diagnosed with high cholesterol and the doctor told him to cut back on the salami and start eating light cheese instead of regular cheese. He told me its’ just not the same (and truth be told a bit like rubber!)
Another example is during this past three months, people have gone to the hospital for procedures and there have been no visitors allowed. Phone calls a few times a day are allowed, but the daily visit, bringing in a favourite food, or magazine or just a more frequent fluffing of the pillow are not allowed – its just not the same!
And of course there is the Zoom or Google Meets or FaceTime video to the children, grandchildren, relatives and/or friends that we have now all learned to log onto – it doesn’t replace the hug, the kiss on the scraped knee, the spray with the garden hose or just a simple high five – it’s just not the same.
And finally, the online mass, the “virtual” Eucharist, the television Sunday church – it doesn’t give the smell of incense, the sound of voices singing together (some good and some not so much, but all with full heart), the sign of peace and of course as we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi today – the touch and taste of the Eucharist – the real presence of Christ transformed as a mystery by the Holy Spirit through the Eucharistic prayer.
Virtual, simulated, artificial, imitation, etc. – all are okay as temporary measures, but real, authentic and true celebration of the mass and the Eucharist is when we are all together as a community of faith!!
This is why I am so excited for next Sunday’s mass, even if at 30% attendance, it is much better than <1%!
Isn’t this what St. Paul is telling the Corinthians in the 2nd reading: “Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.”
We are the Body of Christ – the loaf shared together here at mass, and then sent out with the nourishment of Jesus in our bodies to be the Body of Christ in the world each day.
In Corinth, the participation in the Eucharist, the Lords supper, was the defining moment of the action of believers as a community. This defined them as Christians; the ones who were sharing the cup and the bread.
Paul reinforces this with them by two questions:
‘The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?
The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?”
Christian unity is grounded in sharing the loaf; the participation in the mass, enables and energizes the participation in spreading God’s love in daily life.
In Paul’s time, sharing the table, dining with a group was the primary social symbol of acceptance, of belonging, and of mutuality. With the Lord’s Supper as the feast, this was the key component of the Christians, as opposed to others who sacrificed to their own gods and then brought the food to a personal festival.
When we are together at mass, we are to see the Eucharist in this light – as a special time together, where we are partakers with Christ himself present, not a symbol, not virtual, not a simulation, but the real presence of Christ in our midst.
In the gospel we see the people of the time also had a hard time in understanding what Christ was trying to tell them. What is he saying to eat his flesh and drink his blood? It was one of the most difficult passages of the gospel – then and now!
The people of the time though would have understood that when a sacrifice was given at the temple; a small part was for burning, another part for the priests, and the rest for the worshippers to eat. Since it was a ritual sacrifice, it was God who was present and therefore, people left the meal God filled.
It was not meant to be literal – it is a way to be in spiritual union with their Israelite God.
Eat my flesh and drink my blood really means for us to become Christ like – inside and out. He tells us to “Remain in me”, therefore, his word, actions, how he related to others, and his example are the blood and body we are to consume and use as spiritual food for our life.
Blood means life – Jews will not eat anything not drained of blood – but Christ says to drink his blood and attain life – he is our full need and eating of him brings us life to the fullest.
The Jews brought up the manna from heaven from their past and Jesus says that it was temporary, good for one day; but true living bread was himself – if we follow him and eat of his life, then we gain eternal life through his graceful gift.
His saving work of redemption and sacrificing himself is what gives eternal life.
Participating in the Eucharist, thereby, participates in Christ’s life itself.
When we receive the Body of Christ in our hands for the first time in many months, lets us thank God for His presence and remind ourselves that “It’s just not the same!”
Wednesday March 25, 7pm. at Corpus Christi Site:
“Catholics and the Bible”. A Liturgy of the Word with talk on how Catholics understand the Bible. This evening we will be hosting two volumes of the St. John’s Bible, a great opportunity to examine this beautiful work of art. See below for more information about the St. John’s Bible.
Wednesday April 1, 7pm. at Our Lady of Lourdes Site:
“Becoming the Body of Christ” A Scriptural Rosary with a talk on the meaning of the Eucharist.
The Saint John’s Bible is a hand-written and hand-illuminated Bible encompassing seven volumes: Pentateuch, Historical Books, Wisdom Books, Psalms, Prophets, Gospels and Acts, and Letters and Revelation. St. John’s Abbey and University commissioned British calligrapher Donald Jackson to oversee the creation of The Saint John’s Bible, the first of its scale commissioned by a religious order in 500 years. The Diocese of Hamilton is home to a Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible. It is a fine art reproduction of The Saint John’s Bible. The Heritage Edition reproduces all of the illuminations and text of the original, highlighted using real gold.
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: August 19, 2018
Think for a moment, the all powerful God, the Creator of the universe, chose to become one of us, to become so weak, to be vulnerable, entering our human life and death. This is the incredible humility of God. It is Faith that allows us to see the face of God in this Jesus.
Jesus describes himself as the bread of life. It is Faith that allows us to see that the Eucharist is not just bread, but the living presence of Jesus. The humility of the all powerful God is seen in this as well, Jesus becomes so weak as to be held in our hands, in a sense to be cared by us as we are to receive with reverence. Seeing Jesus in the bread of the Eucharist, this is Faith.
But, we are also to see Christ present in the weakness of the poor. That also requires Faith, to find and see Jesus in the poor, in the difficult people in our life.
The person who is unemployed and in the struggles drinks too much. Some might look at them and call them lazy and irresponsible and not deserving of our care. Are we able to see the face of Jesus?
The person struggling with depression. Some might look at them with no understanding and complain about their lack of effort. Are we able to see the face of Jesus?
The person who commits murder. Some might look and say they do not deserve to live, wanting Capital Punishment. Our Church has stated that Capital Punishment is not the solution and that even a person who commits murder remains a human being who is capable of redemption. Are we able to see the face of Jesus?
The person who is sick and dying with cancer. Some do not want to see this weakness and illness. Are we able to see the face of Jesus?
The person who is a refugee from a country or religion we are not comfortable with. Some would want to reject them. Are we able to see the face of Jesus?
It is possible for us when looking at human beings in difficult places in life, to see them as things, as objects, they often lose their self respect, we see them as less than human. Our Faith calls us to find and see the face of Jesus.
Think of Jesus on the Cross, covered with blood and spittle and sweat, executed as a criminal, how difficult to see and recognize the Christ in this Jesus.
As we see the real presence of Jesus in the bread of the Eucharist, we are to see the real presence of Jesus in the appearance of human misery.
How surprising where we find and see the Christ. In bread, in the poor.
There is statue of a homeless man laying on a bench. But, when you look closely at the statue you see the wounds in his hands of the crucified Christ. Where do we fail to recognize Jesus in the people around us?
A bishop in Brazil told a story of a Sister coming a long way from an isolated hospital. She came by foot to the bishop to tell him that they had no chaplain and he hadn’t had the joy of receiving Christ in communion for a long time. So, first the bishop gave her communion, then he reminded her: “Dear Sister you spend your days with the living Christ, you are there with the sick, there are Christ. You handle Christ with your own hands. This is another Eucharist, the living presence of Christ.”
I think some times of the spouse whose elderly husband is sick and unable to leave their home. She is unable to get to church for Mass because she needs to stay and care for him and there is no one to relieve her. Is she really missing communion with Jesus the bread of Life?
Jesus, the bread of life. We need Faith to see him in the bread consecrated at this Mass. We also need Faith to see the face of Christ in the poor, the sick, the difficult people in our life.