Corpus Christi Year B 2015:
The body and blood of Christ. This is the feast we celebrate today. We celebrate with great joy. Today we profess our belief in the Blessed Sacrament. We believe and profess that the Eucharist is really the body and blood of Christ. We believe that during the Mass the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. He is really and substantially present, though the appearances of Bread and Wine remain.
However, I was doing some research this week and I found an interesting poll. According to this poll, only 50% of Catholics surveyed were even aware of the Church’s teaching about the Eucharist. Isn’t that interesting? Only 50% even know that we teach and believe that Jesus is really and substantially present in the Holy Eucharist. Why would this be?
First of all, I think that very often we just assume that everyone knows what the church teaches about a variety of issues. Because of this assumption, I don’t know how often priests and catechists remember to talk about these fundamental beliefs. So, I want to be sure that everyone this weekend hears this fundamental truth: the Eucharist is not simply bread and wine, it is not simply a representation of Christ, when we celebrate the Mass we don’t just “remember” what Christ did many years ago. Rather, it is truly Christ, each Mass allows us to not only remember Jesus, but we enter into his story. The precious gift of the Eucharist is Jesus’ lasting presence in our world. The Eucharist should be an important part of our lives. In fact, Vatican II called it the source and summit of our Catholic faith.
But, a second reason why many people are probably unaware of this teaching is because most of us stopped learning about our faith when we were in grade school. I know that was the case for me. I went to Catholic grade school at St. Louis Besancon till 6th grade, then took CCD classes till confirmation. That was about it. But, that didn’t make my faith all that interesting or exciting. I thought of my faith as something in the background. Once I started learning more about my faith that it became so much more exciting. I bought a book on the Eucharist and I was totally blown away. I mean, I guess I always knew it was Jesus, but reading this book really opened my eyes to understand just how amazing the gift of the Eucharist really was.
I remember running across a quote from the Cure of Ars who once said if we really understood the Mass we would die of joy. That quote rocked my little world. I was always going to Sunday Mass, but I never quite felt like I was going to die out of joy. Maybe it’s the same for you. But, once I started learning more about the Eucharist, all of a sudden I couldn’t get enough of the Mass anymore. I started going to daily Mass. It was a great and prayerful experience. Then someone told me about the Adoration Chapel at St. Jude’s. I started coming here. I felt like a moth attracted to a flame. I couldn’t get away from the Eucharist if I tried.
The rest, as they say, is history. I started feeling a pull toward the priesthood. The priesthood and the Eucharist are intimately connected. If it wasn’t for the priesthood we wouldn’t have the Eucharist. But, if it wasn’t for the Eucharist the priesthood would have no meaning. Yesterday I went to the ordination of 4 men for our diocese. Again, I felt that powerful call of the Eucharist. I can’t tell you how happy I am that I found that renewed interest in the Eucharist all those years ago. It changed the way I saw the mass, it changed the way I lived my life, it even led me to become a priest. The Eucharist literally changed my life.
The Eucharist can do the same in your lives as well. Learn to love the Eucharist more and more. If you do, you will see that it is the Eucharist that gives us the grace and strength we need to be faithful disciples of Jesus. So, no matter what your vocation is, the Eucharist should be central. The Eucharist makes you a better husband or wife, mother or father. This is because the Eucharist gives us the presence of Christ in our lives, and it teaches us the great lesson of self-giving love.
Become enamored by the Eucharist. Fall in love with it. During the homily yesterday, Bishop Rhoades had words for the newly ordained priests. He said to them: don’t just say the words of Mass, really pray the words of the Mass. I guess I would say the same thing to all of you today. Don’t just say the words of Mass, really pray them. If you draw near to the body and blood of Christ, Jesus himself will draw near to you.