Receive Jesus and Be Jesus 2020-6-14 Corpus Christi Fr. Roberto
Homily for the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ– Year A
Fr. Roberto Corral, OP
St. Dominic’s Church, Eagle Rock, CA
June 14, 2020
Title: Receive Jesus and Be Jesus
Theme: God wants us to receive Jesus in the Eucharist so we can be Jesus for others.
Readings: Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16; 1Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-58
I am sure that at least some of you folks here, and some of you folks watching our live-stream today, remember the Latin Mass before Vatican II. It was celebrated with the priest up here at the altar and with his back to the people. And very often in those beautiful old churches, the altar was way up front, separated from the congregation by a communion rail. So, in that Latin Mass, what was the focus of worship? The focus was on worshipping a God who was “out there,” majestic, transcendent and way beyond us. In many ways, it was a beautiful Mass, with incense, Gregorian chant, Latin, of course, and most importantly, a deep sense of prayer, mystery and awe in God’s presence.
Then, the Second Vatican Council took place in the 1960’s and changed the Mass dramatically. The priest was turned around to face the people, Mass was celebrated in the language of the people instead of Latin, the communion rail was removed, and churches began to be built so that the congregation would be closer to the altar and would also be able to see each other’s faces. And, in many places, the altar was also moved away from the front wall to be closer to the congregation. So, now in the Vatican II Mass, what is the focus of worship? The focus is on worshipping a God who is here, present in the midst of the worshipping community. Can you sense that difference? Now, I am not knocking the old Latin Mass; I am just saying the focus was different then than it is now. Vatican II wanted us to understand that, yes, our God is truly way beyond us, majestic and transcendent; but, most importantly, God is also here with us, in our midst.
Last week, we celebrated Trinity Sunday: our belief that God is three distinct persons yet still only one God. That belief makes us different from every other religion in the world. And, as part of our belief in the Holy Trinity, we believe that Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity, the Eternal Son of God, became human – our God became a human being! He lived, suffered and died for us so that our sins might be forgiven, and he rose from the dead to grant us everlasting life. Once again, no other religion in the world dares to believe that. For example, our Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters believe in the same God we do, but for them God would never give up his divine power and majesty to become a human being, and much less to suffer and die for us. For them and for other non-Christians that is utterly absurd! But that is what we believe. And why do we believe that? Because we believe that our God loves us that much. We believe that God wants to be with us and wants us to be with him forever so much that he would die to make that possible.
But then our amazing God does not stop there. Today we Catholics celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ in which we proclaim that Jesus, again, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, gives us his entire self – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity – every time we come to Mass and receive communion. Again, we can ask the question why God would do that. And the answer is once again, because that’s how much he loves us; that’s how close he wants to be to us. God does not just want to be with us by our side; he does not just want to be in our thoughts and prayers; he wants to be physically inside us, in every inch of our own body as we digest the Body and Blood of Christ; he wants to be in every part of our being. My brothers and sisters, do you get what God is saying to us? Through everything we believe as Catholics, through all that we do at Mass, God is telling us again and again that he does not want just to be a distant God somewhere out there; he wants to be right here with us and even inside of us.
Now, all this, as beautiful as it is, will not do us any good unless we believe it and take it to heart, and unless we receive Jesus in the Eucharist. That is what Jesus says in today’s Gospel. He tells us six different times in our Gospel today to eat his flesh and drink his blood. And he says, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you;” so obviously, Jesus thought that it is important for us to receive him in the Eucharist.
And I know that for so many of you watching Mass online, that is probably the thing you miss the most: receiving Jesus in the Eucharist. Certainly you miss being inside our lovely church, you miss being with the community, but most of all you miss the Eucharist, right? So many people have told me that they enjoy seeing Mass online, and the prayer for spiritual communion we say is nice, but it’s not the same, right? Your persevering faith and your deep desire to receive Jesus in communion is a great testimony to your faith. Well, we’re getting closer to celebrating Mass here in our church where you will be able to receive communion once again. I will tell you more about that during the announcements.
But I want to finish today by talking about the phrase, “the Body of Christ.” For us Catholics, this phrase has two meanings. First, the Body of Christ refers to the consecrated host we receive in communion which, once again, is the actual sacred body of Jesus. But, the phrase, “the Body of Christ” also refers to us, the community of believers – we are the Body of Christ as St. Paul tells us so beautifully in the First Letter to the Corinthians. Both of these meanings are very important and related to each other. A few centuries after St. Paul, St. Augustine linked together these two meanings by saying that when we receive the Eucharist we are meant to become what we eat. So, we eat the Body of Christ to become the Body of Christ. In other words, we receive communion to become more and more like Jesus for each other, to become more and more the Body of Christ, the living presence of Jesus in the world. We receive Jesus in the Eucharist so that we can be Jesus for others.
So, my brothers and sisters, what an incredible God we have! What an incredible Catholic Christian faith we have! Again, no other religion in the world comes close to believing what we believe about God and about what God will do to be with us and to be in us. God is not simply a God who is “out there” somewhere; God is here with us and in us. And God wants us to eat the Body of Christ so that we can be the Body of Christ, so that we can be Jesus for others.
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