Sunday, June 19, 2022
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
This weekend the Church celebrates The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, or in Latin, Corpus Christi. We celebrate the gift of the Holy Eucharist, the greatest of Christ’s gifts to the Church.
The first reading for this weekend is from Genesis. Genesis powerfully and explicitly reveals to us that God is the Creator. In this reading, Genesis also tells us that after human sin, God did not leave humanity to its own fate. Instead, God reached out in mercy, sending figures such as Melchizedek and Abraham, mentioned in this reading, to clear the way between God and humankind. Melchizedek, the king of Salem, traditionally identified as Jerusalem, was a man of faith, as was Abraham. In gifts of bread and wine symbolizing their own limitations, but also representing the nourishment needed for life itself, they praised God’s mercy.
In the second reading, Paul takes us back to the Last Supper, as well as to the beliefs of the early Church who lived a generation or so after the Last Supper. For them, the reality of the Eucharist was clear. “This is my body … This is my blood.” The words are not ambiguous at all: Bread = my body; cup/wine = my blood. The epistle gives us an insight into the first Christians’ lives and into how they practiced their faith. It takes us back to the very beginnings of Christianity. No one can say the Church is wrong in its teaching regarding the Eucharist, or that it has strayed from the oldest Christian understandings.
In the Gospel, St. Luke tells us how a great crowd has gathered to hear Jesus and he has healed some who needed healing. At the end of the day, mealtime comes, but the Apostles have little to give the people — five loaves and two fish, but that was insufficient to feed the crowd. But here is where we see how the Lord is so generous: not only all had their fill but, as well, 12 baskets were needed for the leftovers. Overabundance. Clearly, the Gospel tells us of God’s immense love. It is the great lesson of the feeding of the multitudes. When our soul hungers, God supplies; not in any rationed sense, but lavishly through his Body and Blood shared with us in the Eucharist.
As a priest, I am heartbroken to see how many people don’t come to Mass, and how many people do not believe in the Real Presence. I pray every day for my parishioners who do not come to Mass, and for all my Catholic brothers and sisters who do not believe in the Eucharist. However, not everything is bad news. I am very inspired by my brother priests, parishioners and faithful around the Archdiocese of Milwaukee who have great faith, love and devotion to the Eucharist.
Many people ask me what I love or like the most about being a priest. Of course, my list of what I love about being a priest is long because I am a happy priest. I am a happy priest because of two wonderful sacraments, the Eucharist and Reconciliation. That’s my answer to the question of what I love to do as a priest. I love to preside at Mass and to be in the confessional hearing confessions. I love the Eucharist. I love celebrating the Mass. I love spending time in prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I mean, my Lord and God, Jesus, is right there in his Body and Blood present, given to us as food for the journey toward heaven. There is not a better, more perfect way to be in the presence of God here on earth than Jesus in the Eucharist.
If you are having doubts about the real presence of Jesus, or if you want to go understand more or go deeper in your relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist, I encourage you to do a few things:
- Read the Scriptures and read the teachings of the Church on the Eucharist; you can start by reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
- Never miss a Sunday Mass. Hopefully, you can participate in daily Mass, too.
- Pray, and especially pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament (exposed or in the tabernacle). In order to know him you need to spend time with him.
- Be more conscious in how you participate at Mass — especially think about how you are receiving Jesus in Holy Communion. Are you aware that you are receiving Jesus? How reverent are you receiving our Lord in Holy Communion? Do you pray in thanksgiving to Jesus for coming into your life right after you received him in Holy Communion, or you are distracted by others, or what you are going to do or eat after Mass is over?
- Be aware that Jesus is intimately present in your life during the day or the week after Mass. Do you forget after Mass that you received Jesus in Holy Communion?
“You come to me and unite yourself intimately to me under the form of nourishment. Your blood now runs in mine, your soul, Incarnate God, compenetrates mine, giving courage and support. What miracles. Who would have ever imagined such. If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.”
– St. Maximilian Kolbe