510 views | Justine John Dyikuk | June 6, 2021
Homily for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi: Year B – June 6, 2021.
Readings: Exodus 24:3-8; Responsorial Psalm Ps 103:1-24,29-31,34; Hebrews 9:11-15; Mark 14:12-16.22-26.
Theme: Being Truly A Eucharist People
The first reading recalls the Covenant between God and the people of Israel which was sealed with the blood of animals. The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews established that Christ initiated a new covenant not through the blood of goats and bulls but through his blood. The gospel tells the story of the how Jesus ate the Passover with his disciples. It indicates that the bread and the chalice replaces the blood of animals in taking away the sins of the world. Corpus Christi Sunday invites us to be truly a Eucharistic people who are grateful to God for his kindness while reaffirming our faith in the real presence which sustains and strengthens us for the journey.
Friends in Christ, today the Church celebrates Corpus Christi Sunday – the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Before we delve into the reflection proper, it is important to briefly take a look at the history of the celebration. According to Munachi (2016), the feast of the Body of Christ, Corpus Christi was introduced into Church calendar in 1264. He claimed that the vision of a glistening full moon, in which an Augustinian nun, Juliana of Liège influenced the celebration. The moon she saw was perfect but for some hollow dark spots which she was told represented the absence of a feast of the Eucharist. This led to the official pronouncement about the solemnity. The solemnity of Corpus Christi reminds Catholics that the events of the Last Supper and Calvary are one and the same except that one is a bloodless sacrifice and the other, a bloody sacrifice.
Background and Summary of the Readings
The first reading (Exodus 24:3-8) recalls the Covenant between God and the people of Israel which was sealed with the blood of animals. It is instructive that before ratifying the Covenant, Moses read the Book of the Covenant to the people. The Sacred Text prefigures the place of the Liturgy of the Word and the Holy Eucharist in the new and everlasting covenant that Christ would establish through his blood.
In like manner, the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews (Heb. 9:11-15) established that Christ initiated a new covenant not through the blood of goats and bulls but through his blood which pleads more insistently than Abel’s. Accordingly, the text states that: “He brings a new covenant, as the mediator, only so that the people who were called to an eternal inheritance may actually receive what was promised: His death took place to cancel the sins that infringed the earlier covenant.”
The gospel (Mark 14:12-16.22-26) tells the story of the how Jesus ate the Passover with his disciples. The reading introduces an essential component of the Liturgy of the Word namely, singing or praying the psalms. However, the punch-line of the text is that the bread and the chalice replaces the blood of animals in taking away the sins of the world. The blessing and the thanksgiving reveals the true nature of the sacrifice of the Holy Mass.
Enthralling Miracles of the Holy Eucharist
In the 8th century, a priest in Lanciano, Italy was experiencing doubts about the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. In the middle of saying Mass, he said the words of consecration “This is my body…This is my blood.” At that instance, he saw the bread and wine transform into real human flesh and blood. The blood coagulated into five globules which was later believed represents the five wounds of Jesus. The news of the miracle quickly spread and the local archbishop launched an investigation. The Church approved the miracle. The flesh is still preserved to this day. Odoardo Linoli, a Professor of anatomy conducted a scientific analysis of the flesh in 1971 and concluded that the flesh was cardiac tissue; the blood appeared to be fresh blood without trace of preservatives.
In a related development, a woman living in Santarém, Portugal in the 13th century was disturbed that her husband was cheating. She decided to consult a sorceress for help. The sorceress told her the price of her services was a consecrated host. She went for Mass at the Church of St. Stephen and received the Eucharist on her tongue. She then removed it from her mouth, wrapped it in her veil, and headed to the door of the Church. But before she got out, the host began to bleed. When she got home, she put the bloodied host in a trunk. That night, a miraculous light emanated from the trunk. She repented of what she had done and went for confession the next morning. The priest came and retrieved the host and took it back to the church. After an investigation and approval of the miracle, the Church was renamed, Church of the Holy Miracle. The bloodied host is still being displayed till this day (Source: Churchpop.com.).
1. Be a Eucharistic People: The reading of the Book of the Covenant to the people captured in the first reading as well as the singing of the psalms in the gospel assures Catholics of the place of the Liturgy of the Word as an indispensable part of the Holy Mass which prepares us to be a Eucharistic people (a people of thanksgiving) while being mindful that Holy Mass comprises of the prayer of thanksgiving, petition, supplication and adoration.
2. Belief in the Real Presence: Corpus Christi Sunday calls us to reaffirm our belief in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Eucharist in such a way that Christ who is present in body, soul and divinity at every Eucharistic celebration helps us in our daily struggles with the ancient enemy.
3. Be in Full Communion: In a Church where many people are not communicants because of sin or their inability to access Christian marriage, the faithful are challenged to approach pastors of souls so as to be in full communion with Church through the Eucharist, the spiritual meal for our journey.
4. Go for Confession: On this day, we urge those who have excommunicated themselves from receiving Holy Communion for many years to do the needful by going for sacramental confession so as to be in full communion with Christ and with the Christian assembly (Cf. CCC, no.1415).
5. Eradicate Divisions: As a Eucharistic people, the celebration of the Holy Mass is geared towards the unity of all God’s and daughters which obliges us to work towards eradicating divisions in our country which is on the precipice towards relishing our unity in Christ (Cf. 2 Cor. 10:16-17).
6. Relinquish Fetish Covenants: In a Church where some Christians have taken to Babalawo, Seers and Native Doctors in search for fame and fortune, we are reminded that since the blood of Christ replaces the blood of rams and bulls, we must shun any fetish covenants which are contrary to our belief in the power of the Holy Mass bearing in mind that the Eucharist is the source and the summit of our lives and existence (Cf. SC, no 10 & LG, no. 11; CCC no. 1324).
1. The first reading recalls the Covenant between God and the people of Israel which was sealed with the blood of animals.
2. The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews established that Christ initiated a new covenant not through the blood of goats and bulls but through his blood.
3. His death took place to cancel the sins that infringed the earlier covenant.
4. The gospel tells the story of the how Jesus ate the Passover with his disciples.
5. The punch-line of the text is that the bread and the chalice replaces the blood of animals in taking away the sins of the world.
We are called to desist from anything which desecrates the Holy Eucharist. Priests who are custodians of the faith and ministers of the Holy Eucharist must preserve the faith and pass it on while urging the faithful to pay homage to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. We are reminded about the dangers of receiving the Eucharist in a state of sin. You cannot be a Holy Communion receiving Catholic and keep behaving like Jezebel or Nebuchadnezzar. As such, our reverence for Jesus in the Blessed Eucharist must be deep and profound. It was Pope Benedict XVI who said: “Without the Eucharist, the Church quite simply would not exist.” This is because it reveals his divinity. On his part, Pope St. John Paul opines that: “In that little Host is the solution to all the problems of the world.”
Someone has this to say about Jesus: “In biology, he was born without natural conception (Cf. Matt. 1:18); in chemistry he turned water into wine (Cf. Jn. 2:1-11); in physics, he defied the law of gravity by ascending into heaven (Cf. Acts 1:9-12); in economics, he disproved the law of diminishing return by feeding five thousand people with five loaves and two fish (Cf. Mk. 6:30-44) and in history, he has no beginning or end and in politics, we are told that government is upon his shoulders.” We pray that Christ who comes to us as food for the journey inspires us to be truly a Eucharistic people even as world-peace is achieved through the Holy Eucharist. Happy Corpus Christi Sunday!