Thursday, 15 June 2017 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great occasion of the Solemnity of the Most Holy and Precious Body and Blood of the Lord, or the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, in which we remember and rejoice in one of the most important tenets and indeed the very core of our faith in the Lord. It is our belief that the Lord has given us His very own Body and His very own Blood for us all His faithful ones, as real food and real drink in the Eucharist.

This is what all of us believe, all of us who believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist, that the bread and wine which we use in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has been thoroughly and completely transformed, or as the term says it: transubstantiation, into the very essence, and real material of the Body, the Flesh, and the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, presence really in His Body, Soul and Divinity.

This is what we, who adhere to the true Christian faith, as well as our brethren in the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches believe in, as separated and distinguished from those who had fallen into the heresy and falsehood of believing that the Lord’s sacrifice in the Mass is merely a symbolic gesture or a remembrance without real meaning and without the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of the Lord.

That is why, all of us believe that the Holy Mass is the highest form of worship, far greater and higher than all of our other participations in the acts of divine worship, for it is in the Holy Mass, more appropriately the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that the priests or the bishops, having been given the same authority by the Lord through His Apostles, acting in persona Christi, united with Christ Himself, offer the same offering of His Body and Blood, as the one He offered as He laid dying on the cross on Good Friday.

What we receive, and what we eat, is no longer a bread, or a chalice of wine, as even though we see the bread and the wine in appearance and in taste, but that is how our human senses perceive them as such. That is because in reality, transcending all senses and realities, the bread we receive and eat, and the wine we drink in some special occasions, have been completely transformed to the full Presence of our Lord, as Jesus Himself had mentioned in the Gospel today.

At that time, Jesus spoke the truth to the people of Israel and to His disciples, that He came into the world, bearing the true and living Bread of heaven. It was not the same with the bread from heaven which came at the time of the Exodus from Egypt, when the Lord fed His people with manna in the desert for forty years. He gave them food in the form of manna to sustain them, but that food, even if they are the bread of Angels, gave no real and complete sustenance unlike the One which Jesus our Lord gave them and all of us.

Jesus Himself said plainly and clearly, that He is the Living Bread Who came from heaven, and all those who do not eat His Body or drink His Blood, has no share of life in Him. And at the Last Supper, at the time when Jesus our Lord according to the tradition of our faith, instituted the Holy Eucharist, which we now celebrate during every celebration of the Holy Mass, also said the same thing, that as He blessed and passed around the bread He broke, He said that the bread is His Body. And He said the same with the chalice of wine, which He said that the wine is His Blood.

Did the Lord say that the bread is merely a ‘symbol’ or ‘representation’ of His Body? Did He say that the wine is merely an ‘image’ or ‘illusion’ of His Blood? No, He did not, brothers and sisters in Christ, and He really meant what He had said. That is why all of us in the Church believe that He is really, truly and completely present, in Body, Soul and Divinity, the wholeness of God in the bread and in the wine in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Indeed, there are those who refused to believe in this truth, but remember, brethren, that the very same response can be seen in the Gospel passage today, as we heard how many of the followers of Jesus left Him because of what He had said about the giving of His Body and Blood to them. The very same doubt that we encounter today has been expressed by the people at that time, ‘How can He give us His Body to eat and His Blood to drink?’.

Those people refused to listen to the truth because it seemed to be unimaginable and disgusting to them that someone had said something of the sort. In fact, the same falsehood was spread by those who would try to bring down the Church in its early years, as misinformations, be it deliberate or unintentional led the Roman authorities to believe that Christians were a group of dangerous sect, not just because they refused to worship the pagan gods and the Emperor, but they were also a cult of cannibals who eat the Flesh and drink the Blood of Jesus.

Yet, that is what we believe, and indeed, while doubt will arise, as even the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord were dismayed and doubtful at what He had said, by saying, ‘Lord, this truth is hard to be accepted, who can believe and accept such truth?’, but we must not be swayed by doubt, and we must truly redouble our faith and devotion to the Lord, Who is truly and really present in the Eucharist. It is really the hard truth, and which we have to accept fully, as Jesus our Lord really did not mince His words when He said it.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why it is important that I bring you to attention to the reality in our Church today. Unlike in the past, when all the faithful ought to receive the Eucharist worthily and properly, when they are not in a state of sin and disgrace, and by kneeling and showing proper respect before Him in the Eucharist, and by receiving Him in the tongue only and not on the hands, nowadays, with the rampant abuse of the option to allow the faithful to receive Him on the hands, and the lack of proper catechism, we end up seeing many of the faithful not treating the Lord with respect, and go through receiving the Eucharist as if going through some regular motion without real meaning and understanding.

Brethren, this is a great scandal of our faith! This is what we need to stop from continuing to happen. We must really restore what is right and proper in this centre tenet of our faith. We can no longer be careless in our adoration and belief in the Real Presence in the Eucharist. Every single particle of the bread of the host, and every single drop of the wine in the chalice, even to the smallest particle, is the Real Presence of Our Lord Himself, present fully in Body, Soul and Divinity.

But nowadays, we treat the Lord in the Eucharist and queueing to receive Him as if we are queueing for free food in a fast food joint, and we do not even receive Him with proper respect while doing so. We want to go through it as quickly as possible, and even get angry when the queue is getting very slow. We are impatient because it ends up making the Holy Mass to get longer, and we cannot wait to return to our daily activities outside the Mass.

That is simply unacceptable, brothers and sisters in Christ, and in reality, it scandalises our faith, in that, there had been a few people, who refused to believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist, who commented that they did refuse to believe because they had seen that even us, Catholics, did not seem to believe in this through our actions and the way we come to Him and receive Him at the celebration of the Holy Mass.

How can we expect others to believe in the Lord Who is really present in the Eucharist, if we ourselves treat Him with disdain and lack of respect? How can we expect others to believe in the Real Presence when we do not bow down, kneel and feel unworthy to receive the Lord in the Eucharist, when we approach Him, and when we receive Him improperly while we are still in a state of grievous sin without confession?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore today, as we commemorate this great Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us all rediscover our understanding and respect for the Lord Who has given us His own Body and Blood, and for what is that? It is for our salvation, that by eating His Body and Blood, we may share in the life He has brought upon us, by His sacrifice on the cross, and become united to Him in body and soul, and one day may come to share in His divinity, in the glory of His majesty forevermore.

Let us all start from ourselves, by striving to participate more actively and solemnly in the celebration of the Holy Mass, and by properly revering Him in the Eucharist, preferably by receiving Him only on the tongue and not on the hands, so that no particle of the Lord’s Body end up falling to the ground and get trampled on our feet. And also by properly preparing ourselves before receiving Him, knowing that we have sinned through our life’s actions, and how unworthy we are to receive Him, Who has come to us in Body, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist.

Let us all do this, starting from ourselves, and thus by showing our own examples to others, we may create the great ripple effect, leading many, many more people, from our families, to our relatives, to our friends, throughout our communities and societies, that eventually, the whole Church, priests and laity alike, will return to the true reverence and faith in the Lord Jesus, in His Real Presence in the Eucharist, and reject all forms of abuse that had happened in the recent years and decades.

May the Lord, Who is present in the Eucharist, continue to sustain us through the giving of His Body and Blood, that we, who receive Him worthily into our being, may be strengthened by His Presence, and may all of us grow ever more faithful and ever more devoted, that we, the Temple of His Holy Presence, will be deemed worthy of eternal glory with Him forever. May the Lord bless us all. Amen.

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