HOMILY FOR CORPUS CHRISTI YEAR C
THEME: EUCHARIST; THE BREAD OF GOD!
BY: Ben Agbo (Rev Fr)
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY JUNE 19 2022
*Gen 14:18 – 20, 1Cor 11:23 – 26, Lk 9:11-17.
A. INTRODUCTION: EUCHARISTIC THEOLOGY
(1) Faith in the Eucharist (Sacramental faith) is greater than ordinary miraculous faith. It is a faith based on the direct statement of our Lord Jesus Christ himself: ‘I am the bread of God – the bread that has come down from heaven and gives life to the world’, Jn 6:33 – 35.
(2) Historical origin
(i) Melchizedek brought bread and wine as a Priest of God most high and pronounced blessings on Abraham who gave him a tithe of everything, Gen 14:18 – 20.
(ii) The Israelites ate the passover bread (unleavened) which prefigured the Eucharist, Ex 12.
(iii) Jesus now confirms that he is this living bread, Jn 6:51 – 58.
(iv) He asks us to do this in memorial, Lk 22:20, 1Cor 10:16.
(v) St Paul confirms this practice as belonging to the apostolic tradition, 1Cor 11:23 – 26.
(3) Concept of the Eucharist
Catechism definition of the Eucharist: ‘The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, together with his soul and Divinity, under the appearance of bread and wine’.
The 3 sides of the Eucharist are;
(i) Eucharist as memorial (faith) of his suffering and death. This is the redemptive side of grace, Rom 10: 9 completed in the past. We need to believe and profess this. (The Protestants are with us here).
(ii) Eucharist as worship requires special faith in his presence in the bread and wine and proper repentance before receiving, Heb 10:19f. (Here the Protestants begin to disagree).
(iii) Eucharist as spiritual food; This is the enabling side of grace (gratia na – edo aso) where we receive communion as food, for spiritual strength and holiness, Jn 6 :53f. (Here the Protestants completely disagree).
B. EUCHARIST AND THE PRIESTHOOD.
(1) Priesthood is intrinsically connected to the Eucharist.
– Heb 5:1- Every Priest offers sacrifice of bread and wine (from Melchizedek to Jesus Christ).
– Gen 14:18 – 20 – Confer Melchizedek’s Priestly offering, blessing and reception of Abraham’s tithe.
– Mal 3:10 – Blessings flow from tithe and curse also follows the refusal to bring tithe offering.
– Lev 21 – Eucharistic Purity is necessary to make the Priestly offering acceptable.
*Quote Bishop Francis Okobo: ‘Without the sacrifice of the mass, it is very difficult to understand why a priest should not marry’
– Lk 9 :11 – 17 – Christ challenges the apostles /priests: ‘Give them something to eat yourselves’, seeing the hunger condition of the people of God.
C. PRACTICAL IMPORT OF THE EUCHARIST
(1) The reality of the different hunger conditions of man;
(i) Physical hunger; need for ordinary bread.
(ii) Psychological hunger; quest for meaning in life.
(iii) Spiritual hunger; desire for the grace of Salvation.
(2) Historical review
(i) Physical feeding and healing; God attended to the Israelites’ hunger condition in the desert, Ex 16.
*Song: Oge Nna nna anyi ha no n’ozara. Chukwu nyere ha achicha si n’igwe n’udi manna… (Jude Nnam’s ‘Naranu rie’).
– Physical healing; Jesus healed the leper, Lk 5.
(ii) Psychological feeding and healing; Jesus attends to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, feeds and heals her through Companionship and the Word of God, Jn 4 :1-30.
(iii) Spiritual feeding and healing; Jesus attends to the spiritual needs of Zacheus through visitation and conversion, Lk 19 :1-10 and to the thief on the Cross through reconciliation, Lk 23 :39 – 43.
The challenge remains today for Priests to ‘Give the people something to eat’. Some are busy giving material and transient things to the people. Some are giving them divisive messages and prophesies. Some are feeding them with humorous and entertaining stories every Sunday which people like ‘Osuofia’ would do better. Some are exploiting the people and collecting their money in exchange for priestly services. The ‘almighty question’ is: What do you want the priest to give to you? And for the priest: What do you have to give to the people: the bread of God or the bread of man?
Should we disconnect tithe offering from the Eucharist and Priesthood (Melchizedek’s)? Let’s check our Scriptures well and also see why the Church connects today’s 1st reading with the rest of the readings for Corpus Christi. What is the real meaning of tithe offering? To whom and for what and to what measure? Happy Corpus Christi Sunday beloved friends!