Corpus Christi, Year C
June 2, 2013
Gen 14:18-20/Ps 110:1, 2, 3, 4/1 Cor 11:23-26/Luke 9:11b-17
One common human experience is that when you love someone you desire to remain in their company. You want to stay in their presence. When Jesus was with his disciples he enjoyed their company even though they must have given him a headache at times. He knew that his death would separate him in some way from his disciples but through his great love for them he wanted to remain loving them forever. For this reason he sent them the Holy Spirit, the spirit of love, so they would have his love in their hearts and thus we have the Feast of Pentecost – the coming of the Spirit, the moment when the disciples received that love of God in their hearts. After Pentecost we celebrated the Feast of the Trinity to remind us that God has chosen to dwell in our hearts and that the Trinity is in us. Now we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi which means as we know “body of Christ” in Latin. What does this feast symbolize and how does it fit into the series of feasts we are celebrating?
Jesus comes in the Eucharist to find us, to find you. I went to celebrate a mass in the house of a sick and bed bound woman. In the homily I shared about the film The Last of the Mohicans where the lead man is being separated from the woman he loves. He shouts to her with so much passion and conviction, “No matter where you go I will find you!” These are the words and actions of the great lover Christ in every Eucharist – he comes to find us, no matter where we are. He comes to our encounter, a personal encounter. It was beautiful because I did not know that in that mass there was a man present who had not been to Church for so many years and only by chance was visiting the house that night. As he listened to the Lord tell him, “I will find you!” he looked so surprised but also joyful.
That Christ is truly, substantially and really present in the Eucharist is a constant teaching of the Church. Some doubt this because of course faith is needed. In every Mass we hear Christ tell us through the lips of the priest, “This is my body” and so we believe because Truth himself will not lie to us. Here the Risen Christ is fulfilling the promise he made to his disciples in Mathew 28:20: “I will be with you always.” Of course in every Mass Christ is present in various ways – in the congregation, in the Word of God, in the Priest but most especially in the Eucharistic species. In the Eucharist he is truly present, in his flesh and blood, soul and divinity.
Various Eucharistic miracles have occurred which perhaps can strengthen our faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist – instances where the host has become real human flesh and it is called a miracle. There is something mysterious here right enough. In former times, when the mass was said in Latin, where now we hear: “This is my body” the people would hear: “Hoc estenim corpus meum.” Now you know where the phrase “hocus pocus” comes from. But every Eucharist is a miracle already! Perhaps the fact that we are at mass, belonging to a community, trying to live in a better way—looking at our lives before and how we are now we can say, “Wow, what a miracle! What a transformation!”
In fact we too are called to be transformed by our participation in the Eucharist. As St Leo the Great (4th century) commented, “the sharing in the body and blood of Christ has no other effect than to accomplish our transformation into that which we receive.” Whenever we put into practice the gospel, the Word of God takes on flesh and blood in us. I remember one day when a person made a comment to me which I found a little strange. The Holy Spirit reminded me of the advice of Jesus: “when someone has something against you, approach them and reconcile” (Matthew 5:23). I thought well I don’t have anything against him but Jesus says if he has something against you, to go and approach. I went and I realized putting our prayer into practice is the best way to celebrate Corpus Christi because then Christ can say in our lives, “This is my body” and little by little we become more Christ like.
Let us enjoy this feast today, giving thanks (the meaning of the word “Eucharist”) to God for his real presence in the consecrated host. May our participation in the Eucharist transform us into what we receive – the presence of Christ in the world of today. Amen.