Pastoral Sharings: "Body & Blood of Christ"

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father James Gilhooley
Body & Blood of Christ
June 22, 2014 

John 6:51-58
Two soldier friends served together in Iraq. One was a 
dull fellow. The other was sharp. Yet, there was a
chemistry that made them inseparable. The slow one was 
wounded. His friend gave his blood. When the wounded fellow learned whose blood had saved his life, he said to his companion, “I feel like a new man.”

Something similar should take place each time we receive the Eucharist. We drag ourselves into the Liturgy looking for a spiritual transfusion, a pick-me-up, a refueling. We need an adrenaline rocket that will jump start us and get us through the next six days.

Does any mother’s child here still wonder why the Church urges us to receive the Eucharist daily? It tells us, “Meet Jesus in the AM Eucharist and walk with Him throughout the day.” Like the soldier who began this homily, we should feel like a new person. Receive the Eucharist well and the chances are good that you take on yourself characteristics of Jesus. That is going first class.

A clever 3rd century Egyptian, Clement of Alexandria, compares the union of ourselves with Jesus in the Eucharist to two pieces of wax being fused together. If we were not blood relations with Him before Communion, we should be after it.
He and we should become family. If we really give the process a second effort, we can just about put Him down in our wallet IDs as next of kin. “In case of accident, call Jesus. He is immediate family.” Talk about thoroughbred bloodlines!

The Eucharist is the Gospel made Sacrament; Christ is both baker and bread. Not by any accident does He use the oldest known and most nourishing food to give us Himself. (Unknown)

The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ goes back to 1261 which was a good year for us. Why? Thomas Aquinas was a professor at the University of Paris. Pope Urban IV had a sharp eye for superstars. He asked the master Dominican theologian to write a Mass for the feast. Some good things happily do not disappear into dusty library shelves. We are still using that Mass formula 700 years after its birth. This was one professor of theology who was able to pen lyrical prose.

Fra Thomas of Aquin saluted the Eucharist as “tantum sacramentum,” which translates comfortably into “so awesome a sacrament.” This professor addresses Jesus with these lush words, “In this sacrament, you are both shepherd and pasture.” Another man, who knew Paris well, was the 20th century Nobel prize laureate Francois Mauriac. He wrote, “The Eucharist is what is most real in the world.” Just think of it God in a bit of bread comes to bring morning into the darkness of our bellies. (Hilda Prescott)
Do notice how clever the Church is. It situates today’s feast immediately after the celebration of last Sunday’s Feast of the Trinity and the Pentecost the week before that. No matter how you approach these feasts, the Pentecost and the Trinity both honor an invisible God. Not so the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ! The Nazarene is eminently seeable and embraceable. He is warmth personified.

To paraphrase Ignatius of Antioch, in the Eucharist we not only put our arms around Jesus but more importantly He squeezes us. He takes our breath away. You cannot get any closer than that. A boy was critically ill. Only his nine year old brother had his blood type. He volunteered. As he watched the blood leaving his body, he asked the doctor, “How soon before I die?” He was reassured he would live. No one gave that assurance to Christ when He gave His rare blood type to us. Yet, He gave it willingly.
The best use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts it. (William James) A woman showed her biography to friends. It had only three pages. The first page was black. That she said represented her sins. The second page was red and it signified the blood Christ shed for her sins. The third was white. This last page was herself after being cleansed by the Eucharist. (William Barclay)  

Each of us has the first two pages of that biography. The third only is added when we receive Jesus as our personal Saviour. Today at this Liturgy is as good a time as any to add that third page. Think about it. Introduce others to the Eucharist. The world thirsts for grace in ways it does not recognize. (Philip Yancey) Little wonder that in a recent year, 150,000 Americans were baptized as Catholics or received into the full communion of the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil alone. Increase that number.

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
June 22, 2014

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Year A  June 22, 2014
Gospel (Read Jn 6:51-58)

Our Easter lectionary readings moved us through Christ’s Resurrection, Ascension, and the Descent of the Holy Spirit. Last Sunday, we celebrated the Most Holy Trinity, because we understood, from all that history, that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; from the beginning, all Three Persons have lovingly worked to restore us to the life for which we were designed. We might, therefore, conclude that the history is now liturgically complete. Yet today, the Church calls us to another solemnity. In our readings, we are pondering the mystery of the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord in the Eucharist. This meal raises a question: If we now have the Holy Spirit to put God’s life in us, why do we need to “eat the Body” and “drink the Blood” of Christ? What does that accomplish that the gift of the Holy Spirit doesn’t?

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi: Beyond the Carousel
A few weeks ago I came upon a beautiful carousel.  Instant reflections of early childhood hit me as I remember the merry-go-rounds I would go on at Seaside Heights back in the day when the term “Jersey Shore” had no connotations of immorality.  I don’t know if modern carousels still do this, they probably don’t because of safety issues, but back when I was little, everyone would try to be on a horse or animal on the outside of the circle.  That was so they could reach for the ring. 

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ
John 6: 51 – 58

This Gospel is part of a larger portion of John known as the Bread of life Discourse. It begins with the multiplication of the loaves and ends with many disciples leaving Jesus, followed by Peter’s beautiful profession of Faith, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy one of God.” There is a lot happening in this chapter of John’s Gospel, and for the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ we hear the center piece of the chapter when Jesus teaches that He is the Bread of Life.

Eucharist: Body and Blood of Christ
The Catholic Church teaches that in the Eucharist, the communion wafer and the altar wine are transformed and really become the body and blood of Jesus Christ.  Have you ever met anyone who has found this Catholic doctrine to be a bit hard to take?

How to Listen When God is Speaking to You
God speaks to us constantly through ordinary events and signs, but we aren’t always listening. We need to open our ears to hear his supernatural suggestions. As Jesus said, “let him who has ears to hear, hear.” How do we fulfill this desire of Jesus?

How to Receive Christ With Love
In Holy Communion, we touch and taste our Lord and our God. A very significant sentence of St. Augustine, in which he records Christ’s words to him, defines the chief effect of eating the Bread of Angels: “Thou shalt not change me into thine own substance, as thou changest the food of thy flesh, but thou shalt be changed into mine.” There is not, and there never can be, a closer union. The reality of Christ’s Presence is a fact founded on His infallible word and almighty power.

Thomas Aquinas on Natural Law in 5 Points
It’s imperative. You must understand the teaching of Thomas Aquinas on Natural Law. It’s absolutely essential in a culture and era that misunderstands the nature of human marriage, conception, life, and natural death. So what do you need to know?

When the Joy of Faith is Gone
In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of (your) faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:6-9

Ten Ways To Grow in Prayer
Prayer is the key to salvation.  St. Augustine says that he who prays well lives well; he who lives well dies well; and to he who dies well all is well. St. Alphonsus reiterates the same principle:  “He who prays much will be saved; he who does not pray will be damned; he who prays little places in jeopardy his eternal salvation.  The same saint asserted that there are neither strong people nor weak people in the world, but those who know how to pray and those who do not. In other words prayer is our strength in all times and places.

The Church is a Family Formed by God, Pope Says
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis stressed the familial nature of the Church at his Wednesday General Audience, emphasizing God’s desire to form a people through fatherly love.

“To speak of the Church is to speak of our mother, of our family,” he said to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square June 18.

He said the Church is not a private association or an NGO, and neither is the Church restricted to bishops, priests, and the Vatican.

“We are all the Church,” he declared.

Why is it more rationale to believe the universe created itself than to believe God created the universe?
Radical atheists love to ridicule believers. They mock our “talking snake” in Genesis but really show their own lack of sophistication in understanding the nature of allegory or symbol in human language. But since I do understand allegory I will let them off the hook when it comes to their own “God particle” and the language of “blind evolution” (as if a process could have eyes and see or not see).” For unlike some (not all) of them, I attended high school grammar class and understand the nature of allegory, symbol, hyperbole, and metaphor when it comes to human parlance.

Seven Proofs for the Natural Immortality of the Human Soul
The late Dr. Antony Flew—perhaps the greatest atheist thinker of the last hundred years—came to faith in God largely through his studies in philosophy and, most especially, science, as he recounted in his book written with Roy Abraham Varghese, There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind.

One Simple Fact to Prove the Power of the Rosary

The rosary may be the most beloved devotion of the Catholic faith. It is quintessentially Catholic and the beads upon which the prayers are tracked are themselves a symbol of the Church. A Bible, a rosary, the medal of a saint, these are the material hallmarks of a Catholic. Combined with faith, prayer and action, the rosary lies at the heart of who we are.

Myth, Magic and Miracles
A friend of mine told me a miracle story last evening. 

He was driving along the road in the right lane. Two cars were beside him in the left lane. The road was in a suburban area. Ahead on the right he spotted a mother walking a dog coming in the direction facing him. Beside her was a young child jumping and playing. As he approached them, with the two cars still in the left lane beside him, the child suddenly jumped from the sidewalk directly into his path. He swerved left to avoid the child, knowing that he would collide with both cars to his left. He realized instantly that he would probably be injured or killed.

What Does Jesus Mean by Hypocrisy? It’s More than You Might Think
In the Gospel from Ash Wednesday’s  Mass, Jesus gives an extended teaching on the problem of hypocrisy. You can read it here: Matthew 6 – On Hypocrisy. In the modern age we have tended to reduce the idea of hypocrisy to duplicity. The modern notion is that a hypocrite is someone who says one thing but does another, a person who is two-faced, inconsistent, or phony. Jesus’ teaching on hypocrisy does not exclude this definition, but it is far richer.

7 Ways to Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus
At the very center of Christianity is love. Love is the whole message, the whole law. Now, I don’t mean love in the sense of quickly passing infatuation or sexual attraction, two mistaken definitions of our confused culture, but rather sacrificial self-giving. In its essence, love is nothing more than laying down your life for the good of another.

The deeper we grow in the Catholic and Apostolic faith, the more we realize that the gospel is centered not so much in our love for God, but in God’s love for us. Holy Church has dedicated the month of June to a devotion that is designed to remind us of the depth of God’s passionate love for his creatures: devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Pope Francis: Devil Is Working Hard on Securing End Times
To most of the world, Pope Francis is the pope of the poor, foe of unrestrained free-market capitalism, reformer engaged in shaking up the Roman Curia, ecclesiological innovator committed to consultation, collegiality and decentralization in the governance of the Church.

Francis is all that, but he’s also more — something his image as a social activist and agent of structural change might not lead you to expect.

Are We Living in the End Times?
In the fundamentalist Bible church I attended as a child we would regularly have long sermons about the “end times”. These were based on an interpretative system of the Bible called “Dispensationalism”.

Greed: A Brief Meditation on One of the More Underreported Sins
One of the more underreported sins is greed. Too easily do we conclude that greed is always about “that other person over there,” who appears to have a little more than I do. Yes, that rich guy over there, the one who earns a dollar more per hour than I do; he is greedy, but I’m not.

Was Moses a Myth?
I received several recent e-mails from people asking for help answering the claim that Moses never existed but was simply copied from Babylonian mythology. Let’s take a look at the story of Moses’ birth so that we can better compare it to the ancient tale that critics say is the story’s true origin.

In This Age of Nice, Mercy is a Dead Letter
We’ve all seen those sharp spikes on buildings meant to keep birds from nesting on ledges. They’re put there because birds are messy and a nuisance. I’ve always felt a little bad for the birds seeing those but it’s perfectly understandable why building owners would have them there. I’ve even seen them on churches.

But I’ve got to say, the thought of buildings erecting spikes in alcoves to keep homeless people away is absolutely abhorrent. One building in London is doing exactly that though. And they’re not alone.

Conn. Event Marks the Birth of Pro-Life Movement
WATERBURY, Conn. — On June 11, 1939, all 20 of the Catholic pastors in Waterbury, Conn., called for the closing of the city’s new, illegal contraceptive dispensary. A week later, authorities closed the dispensary, and they soon shuttered the other seven dispensaries in the state.

Waterbury Catholics hold the story up as a model for the way Catholics can and should be shaping their communities today.

Why You Don’t Believe in the Holy Spirit
You probably don’t believe in the Holy Spirit.

Sure, you say the Creed every Sunday and if someone asked you’d say “well of course I believe in the Holy Spirit.”

But do you really?

I know I don’t. At least not as much as I should.

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit? Do you really? Let’s see…

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