A Word #150| Solemnity of Corpus Christi| June 18, 2017
Jun 15, 2017
“For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”
Whether your knowledge of the Latin language is proficient or nonexistent, I believe each of us knows the theology and meaning of today’s special feast throughout the Catholic Church. Today we contemplate and pierce the mystery that is made present for us on every Altar and Tabernacle in every Catholic Church throughout the world. The Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian life! What a privilege and gift it is that Jesus before He departed from this world would leave us the Sacrament of His Body and Blood. These are no mere symbols but true and living species that we partake at every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. There is nothing that comes close to sharing in the joys of Heaven and with our Triune God than presenting ourselves to receive Him who loves us so much! The gift of the Eucharist is something that should never be taken for granted, but be received with such reverence whether it is our first, last, or regular reception of such a gift.
The sad reality is that many Catholics place less and less emphasis on this gift that comes to us at every Holy Mass. The recent statistics are heartbreaking when Catholics are asked from the pews whether they believe in Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. The depressing number is that over half of all Catholics do not believe or have any real knowledge that it is Jesus whom they receive. As a priest, I find it tragic and feel great sadness when I learn of Catholics who do not have a high regard for this Sacrament of Salvation. Even more, I find it discouraging that many Catholics have no understanding what it means to be a Eucharistic people. As you have heard me preach and teach on numerous occasions, we must become what we have received. If the old cliché is to have any validity, then it is most true with the Eucharist: We are what we eat (and drink!). There should be no hesitation or question that it is Jesus who comes to us in these Eucharistic species. Any priest will tell you as I can share with you, something truly happens when a priest celebrates the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I remember my first Holy Mass (the Mass of Ordination to the Priesthood) when I experienced what I can only describe as power working through me at the moment of consecration when I repeated the Words of Institution that Jesus said on the night before He died: This is my body…This is my blood. My friends look for yourself: it is Jesus who offers Himself at every Mass through the words and actions of the priest through the power of the Holy Spirit. He comes for you and wants to satisfy and quench your hunger for holiness and sanctification.
Today we recommit and confirm our common belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Our acknowledgement of so great a gift is in the Amen we declare when the Eucharist is presented to us at Mass. Amen! I believe! So be it! Is our profession of faith in this truth and doctrine of the Church. For over two millennia, the Church has held fast and defended this teaching of the Lord Jesus. When Jesus taught His followers that He is the Bread of Life and when He offered Himself to His disciples at the Last Supper to do this in memory of Him, He wasn’t fooling us! This is a truth that must be defended by a culture that denies the spiritual realities that we celebrate. No science or philosophy could ever give a fair and accurate explanation of so great a mystery. Remember, if Jesus said it, there ought not to be any doubt in our minds that He is truly present. Therefore we need to live the Eucharist as the source and summit of our Christian life! This means that we must never forget what we have become when we exit the doors of our parish church. We need to demonstrate this truth in the way our Una Familia treats one another whether friend or foe. It starts in being hospitable and charitable inside and outside the parking lot of St. Anthony parish.
Lastly, by now most of you have been informed of my recent health issues that require my attention. Although I will be away to recover and recuperate from these issues, I am no less present to you than if I was there celebrating Mass with you. The amazing thing about the Eucharist is that whenever we gather together to celebrate the Eucharist the entire Church is assembled and together whether we are physically present or not. We will be united every time we present ourselves in worship at the Altar of Sacrifice. I will not be far but there with you as we sing the praises of the Lord at every Holy Mass. I count on your prayers for my quick restoration to good health as you can count on my prayers as your priest and shepherd during my absence. My prayer has always been and will continue to be that we become saints by living out the Eucharist we celebrate and receive. My dear friends, it is our food for the journey, it is our medicine for salvation, and the food and drink that sustains us in good health and in bad. I ask you to be convicted to live out our Eucharistic vocation and I look forward to the day when I will return to celebrate these Sacred Mysteries in the house of God and our Una Familia.
Please know, I will continue to write my pastor’s note to you each Sunday so that I can break open to you the Word that we all receive at every Sunday Mass.
With much love and always yours in Christ,