May 25, 2008
Body and Blood of Christ, Cycle A

First Reading: Deuteronomy 8: 2-3, 14-16
Psalm 147
Second Reading:
1Corinthians 10: 16-17
Gospel: John 6: 51-59

The legend goes that in 1263, a priest, Peter of Prad was on pilgrimage to Rome. He was a pious priest but who still doubted Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist. He stopped in the city of Obiato, Italy to celebrate Mass. The legend suggests that after consecration, the host began to bleed and the blood ran down his hands and arms and stained the corporal on the altar. Disgusted about by the scene, he ran to Pope Urban IV who happened to be in the city and confessed his sin of doubting the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Pope Urban IV sent a delegation of Cardinals who investigated the experience. Upon the completion of the investigation, Pope Urban IV established “The Feast of Corpus Christi” to honour the experience. The Church has since then preserved the bread turn Body of Christ in a side altar in a cathedral in the city of Obiato.

Corpus Christi commemorates the institution and the gift of the Eucharist. The Western Church used to observe Corpus Christi on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, but we now celebrate it on Sunday. Corpus Christi exists, due largely to the influence of St. Juliana (d. 1258). In 1264, Pope Urban IV asked Thomas Aquinas to compose services for the newly established feast; but the attribution to Thomas Aquinas is highly contested. Despite the doubts, Corpus Christi – since the 14th Century has become a universal celebration in the Western Church. [Elizabeth A. Livingstone. “The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977, p. 131]. How can we explain this doctrine in a simple language to the average Catholic?

Quite sincerely, symbolic words are inadequate to describe the reality of “The Body and Blood of Christ.” The reason is that the bread and wine we the Priest offers at consecration on our behalf are meant to perfect the defects of the senses of our faith – [singing: “Praestet fides supplementum, sensuum defectui” as we sing from “Tantum ergo” at benedictions.

By accepting the acclamation, "This is my Body" [cf. Lk. 22:19], we, as Church and parishioners, venture to clothe ourselves with the sensitivity and intelligence of Jesus Christ. Quite regrettably, we sometimes see in our relations with other faiths or certain parishioners, a spirit of discord, litigation and intolerance of the other. Certain parishioners never get along, while others cannot stand the Pastor. We, as Catholics, believe in the trans-substantiation of the bread and wine we offer at Eucharist. Evangelicals do not, because for them, the bread and wine are merely “appearances.” Thus, until we solve theological interpretations surrounding this issue, we may gather for ecumenical prayers and services, but we may never share Holy Communion together, because we are different and they are different from us. Whenever we hear the acclamation, “The Body of Christ” or “The Blood of Christ,” and receive them with our hands and tongues, we accept to transform ourselves into Christ. In fact, Pope Pius XII, in the 1940's and 50's said that, “Whenever we receive worthily the Body and Blood of Christ, we become what we receive.” In other words, upon receiving the Body and blood of Jesus, we accept to embrace and to live the totality and reality of Jesus.

Whenever we receive the Body and Blood of Christ in our palms and on our tongues, we testify that indeed, Jesus is the reality in our lives. We accept that our world is in need of transformation -– beginning with our very selves, our homes and relationships, and in all that we do or say and live!

As Church, Parish and parishioners, “Corpus Christi” – The Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus, challenges us to overcome any “spiritual laziness” that relegates our participation in the Eucharist to sheer outward, sacramental exhibitions. Certain parents bring their children to Church to receive sacraments and we never see them again and likewise the children. Receiving sacraments becomes more or less an opportune time to shop as in a grocery store. In fact, when “spiritual laziness” takes over our relationship with God, we die in the spirit, and we fail to make the Eucharist a life-giving force in our search for intimacy with God and neighbour. In this regard, the Eucharist or coming to Mass is not “Come, get it over with” in a one-hour Mass on Saturday[1][1] or Sunday. The Church established Saturday Mass as a “Mass of anticipation” for workers and not a “convenience” to replace Sunday Masses. Many people now prefer Saturday Masses so that they could sleep-in on Sunday. How do you suggest that we maintain being “Resurrection” people with Sunday as a day of worship? On this great festive day of the Corpus Christi, I wish to remind every parishioner that our participation at Mass must serve rather as revitalization of Jesus’ spirit in our life and in the manner in which we treat each other!

Father John-Baptist Okai
Priest Moderator
St. Cecilia Parish, Regina SK Canada

St. Cecilia Parish Home -- Homilies