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Monday, June 8, 2015

Corpus Christi: Reconciliation between Man and God

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
Corpus Christi, June 7, 2015
Saints Peter and Paul Parish, Tucson, AZ
Today, we celebrate the greatest gift ever
given to the world. This gift that our Catholic Church celebrates is the tradition and belief in the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. 

The feast of Corpus Christi was instituted by Pope Urban IV in the year 1264, but in reality it is a feast that the Church has been celebrating ever since the Last Supper -- the moment Our Lord turned  bread and wine into His Body and Blood.

This occurred on Holy Thursday,  the day before He was sacrificed. Since this first institution of the Eucharist, the Church has firmly believed and taught that the bread and wine used in the sacrifice of the Mass become the Body and Blood of Christ while still under the appearance of bread and wine. 

My brothers and sisters, as we celebrate today’s solemnity of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us reflect on the sacredness of what it is we are receiving when we come to our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. 

Today’s readings (Mark 14:12-16, 22-26) remind us that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sacrifice. Ever since the 1960s, we don’t often hear that term “sacrifice” when it comes to the Mass. But this is what the Mass is. It is a sacrifice. This understanding of the Mass as  sacrifice goes back to the time of ancient Israel when Biblical Jews would go into the temple to offer sacrifices to God.

The Jews would take a small part of God’s creation such as lambs or bulls and offer it to God as a sign of thanksgiving, communion, and reparation for sins. This act by the Jews was given to them by God in order to separate themselves from the rest of the nations who worshipped other gods, including cattle.  

We hear a description of this ancient sacrifice in today’s first reading (Exodus 24: 3-8) where Moses erects an altar and offers holocausts and sacrifices young bulls to the Lord. Moses takes blood and splashes it on the people and on the altar. This sprinkling of the blood, half on the altar and half on the people, signified the union between divinity and humanity. So the whole purpose of the sacrifice was to become one with God. 

As we look at today’s second reading (Hebrews 9:11-15), we can see that all of the Israelite sacrifices find its fulfillment in Jesus and His great sacrifice on the cross. In today’s second reading we hear,
“For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer's ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.” 

Fr. John Paul Shea 
My brothers and sisters, Our Lord Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the primitive sacrificial promise of the Old Testament. Jesus offers His Body in place of the old sacrifices of lambs or bulls. He is now the victim whose Blood seals all sacrifice.

Jesus Himself is the offering made to God to express thanksgiving, communion, and atonement! He gives His blood not to be sprinkled on the people and the altar as in the sacrifices of the Old Testament. His blood is given to us to ingest into our very bodies. Our Lord is the sacrifice who reconciles between divinity and humanity!

When we receive Our Lord in the Holy
And I, when I am lifted up
from the earth, I will draw all men
 to myself."(John 12:32)
Eucharist, we share in His sacrifice. As Jesus offered Himself to us as a sacrificial offering. He calls us who receive Him in His Sacred Body and Blood to offer ourselves to Him as a sacrifice by surrendering our lives to Him. 

We must be willing to lay aside our own desires and follow the teachings our Lord has handed down to us… We must be willing to sacrifice our own will and desires and pick up our cross and follow Our Lord. 

Parents sacrifice for their children… Husbands and wives sacrifice for one another… Children sacrifice themselves in love for their parents through obedience.

Many today in our culture do not want to
sacrifice… We want to live for ourselves. Our culture teaches us to indulge. Our society tells us to do whatever we want even if it is against the laws of God. But as Catholics we are called not to live for the waywardness of our culture. We are called to live for God.

As Catholics, we are to celebrate the sacrament of the Eucharist with much sacredness and much reverence. The celebration of the Eucharist is most sacred because the Eucharist is a true sacrifice. This is why the Church is and should be concerned that persons seek to receive Our Lord worthily.

When we eat our Lord’s Body and Blood worthily, the Eucharist makes us sacred. We
become what we eat. We become holy because Our Sacred Lord lives inside of us.
This is why we do not want to come to receive Our Lord if we are conscious of grave sin. This is why Our Lord has given us the sacrament of confession. It is an act of pride and arrogance when we receive Our Lord knowing that we are living a lifestyle that contradicts the teachings of Our Lord’s Church. 

My brothers and sisters, the gift of the Eucharist is the greatest gift ever! In the Eucharist we receive the True Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us never ever take this sacred gift for granted!

1 comment:

  1. A very good explication of JW beliefs. I feel so sad for these people, especially the children who are being fed these heresies. We should all be reminded to pray for them when they come to our doors, or when we pass by one of their drab little buildings. Just a quick ejaculation, such as: "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls. Amen"