Corpus Christi Sunday – Year A

Below is my homily for Corpus Christi Sunday. It was given to Ss. Cosmas & Damian Parish in Punxsutawney, PA on Saturday, June 17, 2017, at the 4:30 pm parish mass.


A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John (Jn 6:51-58)

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
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.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

The Gospel of the Lord


“Do not forget the LORD, your God,
who fed you in the desert with manna,
a food unknown to your fathers.”

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world.”

I bet that if I took a poll of all gathered here at Mass today of everyone who wanted to actually be here, I think we might be surprised.

And honestly, I think we all can say that from time to time, we really don’t want to be here at church. We would rather be sleeping, or watching a good movie, or just doing anything else.

And yet, here we are! We gather together every Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist. But what is it that we celebrate? I could bore you all night with a Theological discourse on what the Mass celebrates, but what is more important than that is how this special gift from God impacts our lives.

In our first reading, we hear from Moses, the leader of the Jewish People, God’s special people who He chose from the beginning of time. We hear Moses speak of this manna, this unknown food from their Fathers before them. This gift of manna was presented to them every morning for them to gather up and eat so as to sustain them for their journey through the desert.

Later on in their passage through the desert, the Jewish People had had enough of the journey and this gift of manna. They say to Moses and to God, “we are sick and tired of this wretched food!” This great gift from God, this life-sustaining gift given to His special people, was not wanted anymore. The people had had enough. They wanted out. They wanted to go back to Egypt, the land of their exile.

We have been given a similar gift. Yet our gift is even greater. We have been given the gift of the Eucharist. Jesus Christ gives us His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. He reminds us that HE is the living bread come down from heaven. He is the strength and salvation of all the world. It is by the consumption of His Body and Blood that we find our healing strength, our salvation. He has commanded all of us to do this, and we do not take this command lightly.

At every mass, we re-present, we make present again, the action that happened at the Last Supper. The priest says the words of institution, he says “This is my body.” “This is my blood.” The priest, who has been consecrated by the Bishop on His day of ordination to have the power and authority to consecrate this simple bread and wine into something even more glorious, the true bread from Heaven, the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.

And that is what we celebrate on Corpus Christi Sunday, the Body of Christ Sunday. We celebrate and give thanks to God for this great gift. We do not bemoan and complain like the Israelites in the desert. We do not call out against the Eucharist claiming that it is “wretched food.”

When we find ourselves feeling like we don’t want to be in Church, we should remind ourselves of this great gift. We can easily fall into a spiritual malaise, yet we should have faith in God, knowing that He will give us the nourishment and encouragement that we need to continue to move forward.

Let us take a moment in this and every celebration of the Eucharist to give thanks to God for all that He has given us, most especially the Holy Eucharist:

[This prayer is called the Anima Christi]

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds, hide me.
Separated from Thee let me never be.
From the malignant enemy, defend me.
At the hour of death, call me.
To come to Thee, bid me,
That I may praise Thee in the company
Of Thy Saints, for all eternity.

We ask this through Christ, Our Lord,

Amen.

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