Thursday, 11 June 2020 : 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, today all of us celebrate the great Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, also commonly known as the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, which takes place traditionally on the Thursday after the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, or in some places, to avail the celebration to more people, on the Sunday after the Trinity Sunday. And this celebration is a very important one for us, as besides the Holy Trinity, the Doctrine of the Real and Holy Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist is one of the key core tenets of our Christian faith.

Unlike the Trinitarian nature of Our God, which is acknowledged and the fundamental part of the faith for most of those who believed in God, the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist has not been accepted and was rejected by quite a few segments of the people who believed in God. However, this clearly did not show the sentiment and the belief of the Church fathers and all the early Christians, all of whom believed in the true, real and living Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that the bread and wine we offer at the celebration of the Holy Mass, and which the priest blesses and offers to God at the Consecration truly become the very Body and Blood of the Lord Himself, the very substance and essence of the Lord, although they may still appear to us in the form of bread and wine. This process is called Transubstantiation, in which ‘Trans’ meaning ‘change’ and ‘Substantiate’ meaning ‘substance or essence’.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the word ‘Transubstantiation’ means ‘the change of the whole substance of bread into the substance of the Body of Christ and of the whole substance of wine into the substance of His Blood. This change is brought about in the Eucharistic Prayer through the efficacy of the word of Christ and by the action of the Holy Spirit.’ From the Catechism we can see how the Church clearly teaches to us what the Eucharist means to us all.

This means that the very matter of the bread and the wine themselves have been changed, transformed and altered into the very substance, essence and reality of the Most Precious Body, and the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the same Christ Who has offered Himself on the Cross at Calvary as a worthy Sacrifice, in atonement for our sins. In this bread and wine transformed into the Most Holy and Precious Body and Blood of the Lord, the Eucharist that we partake, we share in the same sacrifice of the Lord that day on the Cross.

That is why the Mass is more appropriately known as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, as the priest celebrant acts ‘in persona Christi’ or in the Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by the authority that He Himself has given to His Apostles, and as the Mass itself is the entire same Sacrifice that the Lord had undergone, as He brought His Cross up to Calvary, be crucified and died up there for us mankind, the whole Mass represents us all living through that very same supreme Act of God’s love in saving us.

As the celebrant speaks the words of Consecration, by the power of God through the Holy Spirit, the bread and wine became the Most Precious Body and Blood of the Lord, and as the celebrant says, in the same words that the Lord Jesus had spoken on the Last Supper, ‘This is My Body, which has been given up for you’, and ‘This is the Chalice of My Blood, the Blood of the New and Eternal Covenant, which has been poured for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins’ and elevate the Sacred Specie, it was the same offering that Christ made on the Cross, offering Himself in His Body, Soul and Divinity for our salvation.

Therefore, in the Holy Communion, we receive not just mere bread and/or wine, and not just merely ‘symbol’ of the Body and the Blood of the Lord as what some have otherwise believed and convinced themselves, but in truth and reality, the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Himself, in the Flesh and Blood. We may see them as the appearance of bread and wine, the taste of bread and wine, the smell of bread and wine, but in reality, the essence of it all have been transformed completely into something beyond our human capability of understanding, the Mystery of our Faith.

We believe in the Lord and in the mystery of the Transubstantiation, this most important doctrine of the Church from the very beginning and which was codified and formalised at the Fourth Council of the Lateran in the early thirteenth century, and which our brethren in the Eastern Orthodox Church also formalised on their Synod of Jerusalem five centuries later, believing that God Himself has given His own Precious and Holy Body and Blood for us to partake, to eat and drink as real food and drink, and not as something imaginary or merely symbolic, just as He highlighted it to the people in His discourse on the Bread of Life.

The Lord Jesus referred to Himself as the Bread of Life, as the True Bread from Heaven far superior to the heavenly bread manna that had been miraculously given by God to the ancestors of the Jewish people, the Israelites during their forty years journey to the Promised Land. He referred to that occasion, comparing how their ancestors died, but those who receive this new Bread of Life, that is Christ Himself, they would have eternal life through Him.

When the Lord referred to Himself as the Bread of Life, He thus also mentioned to the people that unless they eat of His Body and drink of His Blood then they would have no life and no part in Him. He also specifically mentioned that His Body is real Food, while His Blood is real Drink. He did not say that He was giving them a symbol to have or to celebrate with, but instead, doubled down on His own statement of the truth, to the point that many of His own followers left Him after this particular moment, which is ironically very similar to how some of our brethren in faith chose to abandon this same truth about the Real Presence in the Eucharist.

To those of His disciples that remained, to His Twelve Apostles, the Lord gave the power and authority on the Last Supper when He instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. His commandment to them to ‘do this in the memory of Me’ is a very important mission, which the Apostles had faithfully carried out and which they passed on to all of their successors, the bishops and the priests of the Church, who have been ordained and received the same power and authority of the Lord to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

By the sharing and partaking of the Body and Blood of the Lord therefore we have this Holy and Sacred Communion in the Church, which then makes up the Body of Christ. For in sharing the same Body and Blood of the Lord, we have been united through Christ and made one as a people blessed by God and brought together our common partaking of the Bread of Life, Christ our Saviour, becoming the Mystical Body of Christ, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

And from the earliest days of the Church we have very firm proofs and extensive evidences of the Real Presence from the Church fathers and leaders themselves, such as St. Ignatius of Antioch, the second Bishop of Antioch and St. Peter’s successor there, who said that ‘I desire the Bread of God, the Heavenly Bread, the Flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God… and I desire the Drink of God, namely His Blood, which is incorruptible love and eternal life.’ clearly echoing the Lord’s own words that His Body and Blood were real Food and real Drink.

St. Justin the Martyr and the other early Church fathers and saints also concurred with this truth, speaking of ‘not as common bread and common drink do we receive these, but in like manner as Jesus Christ Our Saviour, having been made Flesh by the Word of God, had both Flesh and Blood for our salvation… the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word… is the Flesh and Blood of that Jesus Who was made Flesh.’ And they also warned against heretics specifically mentioning how those heretics denied that the bread and the wine were truly the Body and Blood of the Lord.

St. Ambrose of Milan, one of the Four Original Doctors of the Church and one of the most pre-eminent Church fathers of the Western Christendom also spoke firmly and strongly on this matter, saying that, ‘For that Sacrament which you receive is made what it is by the word of Christ. But if the word of Elijah had such power as to bring down fire from heaven, shall not the Word of Christ have power to change the nature of the elements?’ against all those who doubted that the bread and wine could have changed in either essence or Presence into the Real Presence of the Lord.

For God, everything is possible, and everything can be done, even turning the matter and essence, the reality of the bread and wine into that of His own Precious Body and Blood, to be given to us and to be partaken worthily for our salvation. And at the Last Supper, which St. Ambrose of Milan and St. Paul the Apostle earlier on mentioned, the Lord said, ‘This is My Body…’ and ‘This is the Chalice of My Blood’, as His own Real, Unchanging, Most Holy and Precious Body and Blood, not an imitation, not a symbol, not a representation, not even a spiritual union, but the exact same, real, complete and bloodied Sacrifice of Our Lord on the Cross at Calvary.

It was a famous occurrence of a doubter of this truth which eventually led to the institution of this great celebration of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. The famous Eucharistic Miracle of Bolsena in what is today Italy marked one among the many other great miracles of the Eucharist that from time to time reminded us of this sacred truth and reality of the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. At that occasion, according to tradition, a priest was celebrating the Eucharist while doubting the Real Presence. Immediately upon Consecration, the bread and wine changed into real Body and Blood of the Lord, with drops of Holy Blood dripping onto the corporal used to contain the Sacred Species.

With the affirmation of these miracles, including earlier miracles at Lanciano and other places, where occurrences of ‘Bleeding Body of Christ in the Eucharistic Host’ happened, the Pope instituted the Feast of Corpus Christi to celebrate and to put ever greater emphasis on this core aspect of our faith and core belief in the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist, in the Doctrine of Transubstantiation, where the bread and wine in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass are transformed, completely and fully, into the essence, matter and reality of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, having deepened our understanding of the rich history of this one of the most important tenets of our faith, how are we then going to truly celebrate this Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord? It is not enough that we just celebrate today with a reverent and solemn celebration of the Holy Mass. In fact, all of us need to have a great change in the way we treat the Eucharist and how we have to return the respect and adoration we are to give to the Lord being truly present in the Eucharist.

A prominent person who did not believe in the Real Presence once said that, if we have truly believed in the Lord truly and really being present in the Eucharist, then in the presence of the Lord, he would have bowed down, prostrated and humbled himself in great adoration and worship. Unfortunately, this was not seen among many of us Christians. Many of us treated the Lord’s Real Presence as if He was just merely a bread to be eaten, or worse still, as a burden because we treat going to Mass as a heavy burden of obligation for us to fulfil.

How many of us have received the Lord with faith and worthily receive His Body and Blood into our own bodies, into our hearts and into our very own beings? There is a great need for us to restore the reverence and proper worship and adoration we ought to give to the Lord, His Real Presence in the Eucharist, and it has to begin with us and from us. We must have a great and profound change on how we view the Holy Mass, to make it the most important part of our lives and to centre ourselves and our existence on the Lord.

And having received the Lord Himself unto us, as St. Paul said in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Corinth, we have become the Temples of the Holy Spirit, the very Temple of God present in the flesh, in our very own bodies. Here we have the very best and perfect Temples of His Presence, more perfect and better than the Temples built by Solomon and king Herod. But are we then treating our bodies and our beings as worthy dwelling place of Our Lord? Or have we instead defiled them with our disobedience, wickedness and sins?

Today therefore, on this Solemnity of Corpus Christi, let us all renew the zeal and faith which all of us must have in the Real Presence in the Eucharist, the Lord’s own Most Holy Body and Blood which He has given us all for our salvation through the hands of His bishops and priests. Let us strive to be worthy to receive His Most Holy Body and Blood into ourselves, and be grateful for the loving Sacrifice He has gone through for us, by living a most virtuous and exemplary Christian life from now on.

O Sacrament most Holy, o Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine! O Christ, the Bread of Life, given freely as real Food for our salvation, Your Most Holy Body and Blood, flowing down from the Cross in atonement for our sins, have mercy on us sinners, and by our worthy partaking in this most Sacred Communion, unite us all as the One Body of Christ, the Church, and lead us all into eternal life. Amen.

Thursday, 11 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 51-58

Jesus said to His disciples and to the people, “I am the Living Bread from heaven; whoever eats of this Bread will live forever. The Bread I shall give is My Flesh, and I will give it for the life of the world.”

The Jews were arguing among themselves, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” So Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you, if you do not eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you have no life in you. The one who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood lives eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

“My Flesh is really food, and My Blood is truly drink. Those who eat My Flesh and drink My Blood, live in Me, and I in them. Just as the Father, Who is Life, sent Me, and I have life from the Father, so whoever eats Me will have life from Me. This is the Bread from heaven; not like that of your ancestors, who ate and later died. Those who eat this Bread will live forever.”

Thursday, 11 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Corinthians 10 : 16-17

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a communion with the Blood of Christ? And the bread that we break, is it not a communion with the Body of Christ?

The bread is one, and so we, though many, form one body, sharing the one bread.

Thursday, 11 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 147 : 12-13, 14-15, 19-20

Exalt YHVH, o Jerusalem; praise your God, o Zion! For He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your children within you.

He grants peace on your borders and feeds you with the finest grain. He sends His command to the earth and swiftly runs His word.

It is He, Who tells Jacob His words; His laws and decrees, to Israel. This, He has not done for other nations, so His laws remain unknown to them. Alleluia!

Thursday, 11 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Deuteronomy 8 : 2-3, 14b-16a

Remember how YHVH, your God, brought you through the desert for forty years. He humbled you, to test you and know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He made you experience want, He made you experience hunger, but He gave you manna to eat which neither you nor your fathers had known, to show you that one does not live on bread alone, but also by everything that comes from the mouth of God.

Do not forget YHVH, your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of slavery. It is He Who has led you across this great and terrible desert, full of fiery serpents and scorpions, an arid land where there is no water. But for you He made water gush forth from the hardest rock. And He fed you in the desert with manna which your fathers did not know.

Saturday, 15 June 2019 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the importance of being true in our faith and dedication to the Lord, in all of us our words, deeds and actions so that we truly are worthy to be called the disciples and followers of Christ, our Lord and Saviour. For the Lord has given us everything and done everything for our sake, and therefore the least we can do is to give our whole beings to Him in sincere and genuine faith and love.

In our Gospel passage we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples on the matter of making oaths and swearing those oaths before the Lord and the people. And He said how they should not be making oaths and swearing them on anything or on anybody, or even on themselves. In order to understand what the Lord truly meant by His words, we must then understand in the first place how people then (and even in our world today) make oaths and promises.

People made oaths more because of their fear that the other party who witnessed the oaths would not believe or trust in the sincerity and commitment of the person making the oath in maintaining or fulfilling his or her part of the agreement or bargain. That is why people made oaths and swore them upon things or even persons and beings that the people considered to be worthy to them, so that the other party would come to believe in their sincerity and commitment.

That was why people loved to take oaths on things like their own wealth, their own precious things, jewelries and possessions, or on their own selves and bodies, or even on their states and nations, and last of all, on God and Heaven itself. They wanted the other parties and people for whom they made oaths for to believe that they would fulfil their end of the bargain and be true to the promises that they have made.

But in the end, as we can obviously see by now, is that oath-making was discouraged by the Lord because of the lack of trust and faith between the people with regards to the agreement, promises, and whatever it is that the oaths were taken over. Instead, the Lord said plainly, that someone must be sincere and true, and not making empty promises and oaths, saying yes when they mean it and no when they also mean no.

Many people had made oaths and swore those oaths, and yet even they broke those oaths, and when those oaths were broken, what does it mean then to those things, persons or beings that they have taken the oaths over? Is it not in truth an insult and mockery of what those people have taken the oaths over, if oaths can just be so easily broken and disregarded? And if the people then made oaths before the Lord or used His Holy Name, is it not then a mockery of God when those oaths were broken or disregarded?

Throughout history, we mankind have had long history of disobedience and disregarding our promises to one another. And that is exactly why there are often so little trust among us mankind, where we end up disregarding each other, backstabbing each other and distrusting each other. There is essentially very little trust among us all. How can we then progress from this, and what is it that we need to do in order to be true Christians and followers of Christ as mentioned earlier?

It is by following none other than the good examples set by the Lord Himself, as St. Paul stated in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth, how the Lord Jesus came into this world to save each and every one of us, by what He has done for us, He took the ultimate action and chose to do so willingly to prove that, far better from any of us, He is trustworthy and faithful beyond all doubt.

God fulfilled His promises to us not by mere words, by through real and concrete action, and this action is nothing less than what He had undergone through His Passion, taking up His Cross and bearing it up to the hill of Calvary, enduring the most bitter sufferings and the most painful torture and the most humiliating ridicule and rejection, so that He may save us all from our fated destruction, that is caused by our own sins.

On this day all of us are reminded therefore of the love and commitment, the faithfulness and trustworthiness that Our Lord, the Son of God and Son of Man, had shown us on the Cross, as He gazed down upon all of us, His beloved people with so much love, mercy and compassion. He was so genuine in His love and so completely trustworthy, that each and every one of us indeed should follow in His examples.

May the Lord help each and every one of us to be true to our own faith, to be more committed in all the things we do. May He bless us all with the courage and the strength to be ever more committed and true as Christians, as those who believe in God and in His saving help. Amen.

Saturday, 15 June 2019 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Matthew 5 : 33-37

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “You have also heard that people were told in the past : Do not break your oath; an oath sworn to the Lord must be kept. But I tell you this : do not take oaths. Do not swear by the heavens, for they are God’s throne; nor by the earth, because it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King.”

“Do not even swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white of black. Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything else you say comes from the evil one.”

Saturday, 15 June 2019 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 102 : 1-2, 3-4, 8-9, 11-12

Praise YHVH, my soul; all my being, praise His Holy Name! Praise YHVH, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness.

He forgives all your sins and heals all your sickness; He redeems your life from destruction and crowns you with love and compassion.

YHVH is gracious and merciful, abounding in love and slow to anger; He will not always scold nor will He be angry forever.

As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His love for those fearing Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove from us our sins.

Saturday, 15 June 2019 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

2 Corinthians 5 : 14-21

Indeed, the love of Christ holds us, and we realise, that, if He died for all, all have died. He died for all, so, that, those who live, may live no longer for themselves, but for Him, Who died, and rose again for them. And so, from now on, we do not regard anyone from a human point of view; and even if we once knew Christ personally, we should now regard Him in another way.

For that same reason, the one who is in Christ is a new creature. For Him, the old things have passed away; a new world has come. All this is the work of God, Who, in Christ, reconciled us to Himself, and Who entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation. Because, in Christ, God reconciled the world with Himself, no longer taking into account their trespasses, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

So we present ourselves as ambassadors, in the Name of Christ, as in God, Himself, makes an appeal to you, through us. Let God reconcile you; this, we ask you, in the Name of Christ. He had no sin, but God made Him bear our sin, so, that, in Him, we might share the holiness of God.

Friday, 14 June 2019 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the treasure that is our faith, and what we need to do in order to preserve this faith that is within each and every one of us. We carry in us this faith in the Lord Jesus which is necessary for us to endure through the many temptations and challenges of this world, all of which are obstacles for us in being faithful to God.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of how the Lord Jesus exhorted to His disciples that they ought to be careful in their lives that they did not give in to the temptation to sin, as sin is something that is very dangerous and corrupting, and if we are not careful, we will end up being corrupted by those sins. We should not even contemplate the idea of sin, for when we allow sin to enter into our hearts and minds, it is too late for us.

What the Lord mentioned in today’s Gospel passage was not to be taken literally for surely it must have been horrifying for us to even contemplate the thought of cutting out one’s own eye or to cut out one’s own limb in the case when these led us into sin. In fact, the Lord was just making a point and comparison, of using those body parts as a metaphor for sin, as the limbs, eyes and our body organs are by themselves blameless.

It is the heart that leads one into sin, heart filled with sin and the desire to sin will cause our actions to be ones that lead us down the path of sin. On the contrary, should our hearts and minds be filled with righteousness and good things from God, not only that it would have been much more difficult for us to commit sin, but our actions and our bodies will be used for the greater glory and purpose of God.

Therefore, today, in fact all of us to reflect on how we are to carry on living our lives from now on. Are we going to continue to allow ourselves to be tempted and swayed by sin? Or are we going to try our best to resist those temptations and seek to remain pure at all times despite the challenges and the pressures to do otherwise? God has given us all the free will to choose between goodness and wickedness, between obedience and disobedience.

In our first reading today, again, as I mentioned, all of us have received the gift of faith, kept in the treasures of clay, a reference to our own bodies and selves, made from the dust of the earth. But that treasure of our faith is truly a great treasure indeed, waiting to be unveiled and shown to all. The choice is ours whether we want to keep this treasure inside us and leave it as it is, or to allow that treasure to be shown forth and to grow.

Let me refer to the example of the parable of the silver talents that the Lord Jesus taught His disciples, in which a master presented three servants with the silver talents for them to make use of during his absence. Two of the servants made good use of the silver talents, invested them and worked with them, and made double the result as compared to the initial amount entrusted to them by their master.

On the contrary, the lazy servant hid the silver talent and did nothing with it, and returned the silver talent to the master exactly as how he had been entrusted with it. The ones who were praised and commended were those two servants who had willingly and diligently made good use of their silver talents. In the same way, therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, each and every one of us have been entrusted by God with different talents and abilities.

But are we willing and able to make good use of those abilities and talents? Let us all think about this and reflect how we can be ever more faithful and be more dedicated to God, with each and every moments of our lives, and with every faithful and dedicated actions we do for the sake of the greater glory of God. Let us all renounce our sinful ways and reject any further temptations to sin from now on. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.