HOMILY. Corpus Christi A: Become What You Receive!

This Sunday we celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Christ gives himself to us as food and drink so that we may have life in abundance. We ought to give thanks to God for this sacrificing love of his son but also for the love we experience through different persons who cross our paths. This solemnity gives us an occasion to become more conscious: what’s the Eucharist in my life? When I take part in Communion, what do I commit myself to?

Jesus, you are Bread broken and shared for the life of the world

 Bible Readings
Deuteronomy 8:1-3, 14-16
Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20
Corinthians 10: 16-17 John 6: 51-58

An effort to step out of routine

We may be used to going to mass and receiving the Holy Communion every Sunday, perhaps everyday. That’s admirable! Yet, we should be careful of a risk. We may become so much used that it becomes a simple pious routine, and thus, losing its meaning and its missionary aspect. That’s why this is a privileged moment to refresh our minds so that once again we can become more conscious of what we celebrate and partake.

My body given up for you… and my blood shed for all

The celebration of the Eucharist redirects us to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. He offers his life in sacrifice for the salvation of the world. Knowing the meaning of what was about to happen, at Last Supper, Jesus took bread and wine and said to his disciples: This is my body that will be given up for you, and this is my blood that will be shed for all (cf. Mt 26:28). Hence, in the Eucharist we have an act of love to its extreme –giving up one’s life for others. As Jesus commanded his disciples: « Do this in memory of me » (Lk 22:19). It’s in obedience to his command that we continue to celebrate –we communion in his body and blood. It means, we take part in this extreme act of self-giving. But here is the question of introspection, and it’s personal: whenever I take part in the Eucharist, do I really have the intention to give myself fully in the service of others?

Refuge in spiritual passivity

By virtue of its meaning, the Blessed Sacrament is love in action. That’s why it’s impossible to participate really in Holy Communion in a passive way.

After Jesus nourishes us with his body and blood we ought, in our turn, to get on our feet and become missionary of his love. That is expressed, from historical point of view, by the presence of the tabernacle. The brethren who gathered for the breaking of bread were conscious of those who were sick and so could not make it to be with them. And so, the tabernacle was the place of reserve for the sick. It means after the breaking of the bread the brethren got on their feet to go and visit those were sick to enable them participate in the communion –that’s love in action.

I regret to say, but at times this initial intention of an act of love has become, in some way, a source of immobility and passivity in the name of piety. How does that happen?

How many times do we prefer to spend an hour, two hours or three hours before the Blessed Sacrament and yet we close our heart to a neighbour who might be in need of our help. We may be so immersed with our Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament that even acknowledging or saying hello to the person next to us will look like a violation of our piety. And if our piety becomes a reason to cut ourselves off others, or to become cold towards them, are we not shifting from the essentials?

Active contemplation of the Blessed Sacrament

Have you ever asked yourself: What do I do when I sit before the Blessed Sacrament? Adore? Contemplate?

If there’s depth to my adoration or contemplation; certainly I should be able to discover the profound love of Jesus for me and for entire humanity. And that should motivate and energise me to see what I can do to witness this same love to others. That will be the fruit of true contemplation. And then I will realise that adoration or contemplation is not a refuge into some spiritual passivity but rather a time when I savour the profound love of Christ that leaves me not indifferent but rather swings me into action. Indeed, that’s the meaning of « Do this in memory of me ».  We are called to be missionary of Christ’s love (cf. Holy Thursday A. New Commandment of Love.

Ah, no procession this year?

Traditionally, on this Solemnity we do the procession of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ through streets. For various reasons, I’m sure, in some areas Catholics will not be able to do so. Someone will wonder: why are we not doing what have always done? That can be a source of frustration, even some conflict. But wait a minute! Why the procession?

 In fact, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is another occasion when we celebrate the Lordship of Christ. We move in procession through streets, as a way of saying: Jesus come and be master of our lives, we enthrone you as our king. We are proud to manifest Christ to the world. Is it not easy to show Jesus to the world in the monstrance, showering him with flowers? Perhaps Jesus expects us to do something more than that.

Certainly, it’s more demanding to manifest him by our lives especially through our relationships with others. And so even if you have no precession this Sunday, for one reason or another, there’s still another way you can demonstrate and manifest Christ’s love by the witness of your life –perhaps it’s more meaningful than a simple excitement of matching and singing.

Mission of receiving Christ’s Body and Blood

I think here we can let ourselves be inspired by St. Augustin. Referring to Holy Communion, here’s what he says: “Behold what you are, become what you receive.” In the Eucharist you receive the body of Christ, so become Christ’s body. Like Christ we become servants of others, and become one body with others who take part in the same communion.

May our taking part in Holy Communion help us to become more fraternal towards others and become messengers of Christ’s love.

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See also:

Corpus Christi B. He gives himself for others

Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Year C.