HOMILY FOR CORPUS CHRISTI SUNDAY YEAR A.
THEME: REMEMBRANCE AND UNITY.
BY: FR. GERALD M. MUSA.
Corpus Christ (Body of Christ) Sunday
People gathered annually in the village of Mazanfama to celebrate a food festival in honour of the past heroes and ancestors of the village. This village attracts many visitors from far and near who come for the festival. During the festival, an elder comes out to give the history of the village, with a focus on the many times that God delivered them from evil and enemies. Afterwards, they offer a prayer of thanksgiving to God for his goodness to them over the past years. Besides, the chief honours men and women of the village who are outstanding in different fields of life. More still, special gifts are offered to the poor, sick, homebound, elderly and the needy in the village. At the heart of the festival is the display of an array of traditional dishes which showcase the rich cultural heritage of the people. Some of these dishes include alkaki (made from wheat), mazankwaila (from sugarcane), taliya (local noodles), algaradi (pastry), danbun nama (shredded meat), and other culinary traditions. The various foods symbolize the abundance of God’s gift to the people and eating together signifies unity among the people. The main purpose of the festival is to help the people remember their common heritage, and how their history is intertwined with their present. Thus, the sharing of food means so much for the people.
Likewise, Moses gathered the people of Israel and reminded them about God’s positive interventions, providence, and kindness in their history. Here are the inspiring words of Moses to the people:
Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years (Deuteronomy 8:2-4).
Moses went further to remind the people about how God fed them with a special bread (Manna) in the wilderness when they suffered hunger and thirst. In addition, he warned them never to forget the Lord when they become comfortable (Deuteronomy 2:14-16).
During the journey of the people of Israel, God fed them with finest of wheat says the Psalmist (147:14). And so, Moses instructed the people never to forget this gracious deliverance from captivity and God’s presence in their 40 years journey to the Promised Land. Thus, they remembered God’s interventions in Passover celebrations. The Passover celebrations became the sign of their unity. In the New Testament, the Passover became a memorial of the paschal mysteries, the saving action of Jesus Christ. This found expression in gathering and sharing in the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The early Christians called this gathering ‘the breaking of bread.’ Just as the Passover was a sign of unity for the people of Israel, so is the Eucharist the source of unity for the Disciples of Christ.
Since the celebration of Pentecost, the theme of oneness, union and unity are the focus of the selected readings in the Church’s liturgy. The Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles, the men and women in the Upper room as they were praying with one mind and heart. After the celebration of Pentecost was the celebration of the Most Holy Trinity when we reflected on Divine Unity. In the Trinity we see a divine model of oneness. In Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ we celebrate Holy Communion.
It is called Holy Communion because according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “…By this sacrament we unite ourselves to Christ, who makes us sharers in His Body and Blood to form a single body (CCC 1332). Furthermore, the Church teaches that the principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist in Holy Communion is an intimate union with Christ Jesus. Indeed, the Lord said: ‘He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him’” – John 6:56 (CCC 1391).
Besides personal union with Christ, the Eucharist fosters communal union with Christ. It unites those who partake in it with Christ. It is a communion where the communicants are the body and Christ the head. In this communion, Jesus describes himself as the Vine and the believers as the branches. Paul succinctly explains the reason for the unity. He says, it is “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we are all partakers of the one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). Paul wrote the Letter to the Corinthians because he noticed how the division was already rearing its head and tension was beginning to mount in the community life. His message was loud and clear: You cannot be eating from the same table and live in hatred and backbiting and destroying each other. As we celebrate Corpus Christi let us remember that before the table of the Lord, all barriers are broken, all political factions, and ethnic nationalities must put aside their differences. Jesus becomes the centre of unity.
In the Gospel, Jesus declares, I am the Living Bread and by this, he means the bread he offers is superior to the Manna of the Old Testament and anyone who eats it will never die. Jesus left this great gift of the Eucharist to us, before his departure from the world. He wants us to see him in something tangible, physical and material. ‘A sign of inward grace ordained by Jesus Christ, through which grace is given to the soul.’
Our oneness and communion find expression in our participating actively in the Eucharist by listening to the word, joining in singing and responding to the prayers. Above all, oneness with Christ in communion leads us into repeating the words of St. Paul: “It is no longer I who lives, but Christ living in me” (Galatians 2:20).
Msgr Richard Carroll says, “When Catholics are asked, ‘Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?’ they should answer a resounding YES! There is no closer union with Jesus than when you receive him in the Eucharist. You too say with St. Paul, “…and the life I now live is not my own CHRIST IS LIVING IN ME” (Gal. 2:20).
Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi); Year A; Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14b-16a; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-58
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