Homily delivered at two parishes today on this feast of Corpus Christi, the second (at Guardian Angels) was prior to a Eucharistic Procession.
Corpus Christi 2008
Our Lady of Visitation and Guardian Angels
Familiarity can breed, I do not want to call it contempt because I don’t think that’s right, but something along the lines of a laziness, taking things for granted and forgetting that what is present right in our midst is not just special, but is truly otherworldly. For example, there can be that family heirloom that has been passed down for several generations, but it sits now forgotten on a shelf. That precious gift received from someone special on your graduation, marriage, ordination, that is stowed away in a closet. We walk past every day and no longer blink an eye; yet when we stop to think about it, memories flood back of that day this precious gift was received; that day is made present once again. We relive, we re-enter into that great day.
What we have gathered here to celebrate today can often undergo this same sort of lackadaisical ‘taking for granted.’ We celebrate today the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, the Feast of Corpus Christi where we turn and purposely look at the one unique gift that Jesus has given us, that we may walk past time and time again without realizing just how special this gift is. And what makes this gift so special is that it does not just represent Christ, it does not just merely bring back memories of an event that happened two thousand years ago. No, to hold that position is to miss the great mystery that we celebrate every Sunday, every weekday if possible: Jesus Christ himself is as present here in the Eucharist as he was to his disciples when He gave the discourse we just heard. He is as real here today on the Cross offering Himself, as He did on that fate-filled Passover around the year 33 AD. What we celebrate today is not just a memorial, it is not just a remembrance; it is real, true, present act of worship that Jesus made while on the Cross; which we now enter into again as if we were with John and Mary and Mary the wife of Clopas, and the soldiers, and the crowds. We are there with them, and Jesus is here with us; really, truly present as if he were standing by my side.
As we realize this, as we come to that deeper realization that our eyes of faith see better than our physical eyes ever could, we should be changed by this mystery. We receive Christ, anew, every Sunday. It is as if we take that family heirloom down and have our ancestors not just in mind, but speaking, challenging, giving us the courage to live up the legacy that they have given us; because Jesus gives us an even better legacy: He gives us Himself so that we can be emboldened to live out our faith in the world. So that we can experience life to its fullness not just here on earth, but that we might experience that greater gift of Eternal Life: life forever with God in heaven.
So a question to leave you with today: what do you do to come to a deeper realization of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist? How do you ‘take it down off the shelf’ so to speak? Did you know that every Thursday, you have a chance here at Visitation to come before Christ as if he were right in front of you, staring you in the face, challenging you, encouraging you to be His witness in the world? Periods of Adoration are unique times to come to know Jesus at the deepest level as we place him out on the altar, and he calls us out of ourselves, he fills that hunger for something more that is deep down in our souls. Take advantage of such a wonderful gift that is made present daily, really, but in a unique way during these periods of Adoration.
(Guardian Angels only!)
Insert story of missionaries to Japan who came upon the hidden Catholics present in the hills.
There is an intimate connection between the Eucharist and the priesthood. The simple fact remains that without priests who stand in the person and place of Christ today, there is no Eucharist. We cannot get around this fact. There are some in our Church who would advocate that in order to alleviate this problem, we should change the admission standards, we should change the criteria for who is eligible for ordination. I argue that if we want to refill the seminary across the street, we do not need some type of new program, what we need is faithfulness to the Gospel; radically; and it begins in the family with a longing to be formed as Catholic Christian disciples; disciples who are hungry to receive Christ truly present in the Eucharist.
What we do here today in the procession around this little ‘Catholic Corner’ on the east side of Cincinnati has to be just the beginning of something new; actually something old. It has to be the re-invigoration of your faith, that just as we will take Our Lord from here and process/journey with Him to the high school across the street, to the seminary down the block; you have to take Him with you in your life as well.
Do your co-workers know that you are Catholic by the way you act, dress, and speak in the office? Do your neighbors know that your house is a house of prayer that serves the Lord and Him alone? Do you have a statue of Mary in the front yard as a witness?
This Eucharistic Procession is just the beginning of a pattern where we all recognize that Christ walks with us throughout our life, and calls us to be His Disciples, even when it is inconvenient, difficult, or dangerous. Are we all willing to accept the challenge, the dare, the risk to be His disciple out in the world?