HOMILY FOR SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST SACRED BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST (CORPUS ET SANGUIS CHRISTI) YEAR C
THEME: FEAST OF THE EUCHARIST
BY: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY JUNE 19 2022
1st Reading: Genesis 14:18-20
2nd Reading: 1 Cor. 11:23-26
Gospel: Luke 9:11-17
It was related that once when the Duke of Wellington remained to take Holy Communion at his parish Church, a very poor old man went up to the opposite aisle, and reaching the Communion table, knelt down close by the side of the Duke. Immediately, tension and commotion interrupted the silence of the Church. Someone came and touched the poor man on the shoulder, and whispered to him to move farther away, or to rise and wait until the Duke had received the Bread and the Wine.
But the eagle eye and the quick ear of the great Commander caught the meaning of that touch and that whisper. He clasped the old man’s hand and held him to prevent his rising; and in a reverential but distinct undertone, the Duke said, “Do not move; we are equal here.”
Two of the great Solemnities of the Lord during Ordinary Time are celebrated this month: the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Corpus Christi.
What is so special about Corpus Christi? Is every Sunday not a celebration of Corpus Christi? Since the Eucharist is the celebration of the body and blood of Christ, What is unique about Corpus Christi? The Solemnity of Corpus Christi is celebrated today for us to take some time and reflect on the meaning of what we celebrate every time, so as not to fall into the error of seeing the Eucharistic celebration as a mere routine arising -from over familiarization.
This celebration was introduced in the late 13th century to encourage the faithful to give special honour to the Holy Eucharist. It was extended to the entire Latin Church by Pope Urban IV in 1264 and, became a mandatory feast of the Catholic Church in 1312 (Directory on popular piety and liturgy, No. 160).
Further on why we need a feast of the Eucharist; a feast like this affords us the opportunity to give God collective thanks for Christ’s abiding presence with us which is made visible in the Eucharist. It is also an opportunity for us to seek a better understanding of the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ and to order our attitude to it accordingly, since the Eucharist is a sacrament of life which, if misused, could bring about the opposite effect. As St Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “All who eat and drink in an unworthy manner, without discerning the Lord’s body eat and drink judgment against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died” (1 Corinthians 11:29-30).
In order to arrive at a better understanding of the Eucharist we need to ask why Jesus gave us this sacrament in the first place.
(1) Jesus promised to be with us until the end of time (Matthew 28:20). In the Eucharist he provides a visible sign and an effective means of him being present to us and us being present to him. As Jesus himself said, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.”
(2) Jesus said that he came that we may have life and have it to the full (John 20:20). In the Eucharist he provides a visible means of communicating this life to us so that we can be fully alive both in this world and in the next. As Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day” (John 6:53-54).
On this solemn feast we are called above all to faith in the fact, as revealed by the Lord himself, that the Eucharist, the Holy Communion we partake of, is in fact, a reception of the very Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, whole and entire, in his glorified state. We do not partake of a symbol, the Eucharist is not a metaphor, it is truly the Lord. Neither is it a “piece” of his flesh, but is Christ, whole and entire. Scripture attests to this in many places:
A. Luke 22:19-20 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
B. 1 Cor 10:16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a partaking in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a partaking in the body of Christ?
C. Luke 24:35 They recognized him in the breaking of the bread.
D. 1 Cor 11:29 For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.
E. John 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
St. Paul in our first reading tells how Jesus took bread and said, “This is my Body,” and with the chalice of wine, “This is the covenant of my Blood.” Then St. Paul concludes, “As often as you eat this Bread and drink this Cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” When we receive Communion – the Body and Blood of Jesus – we mystically enter his death and Resurrection. That should give us strength – strength to spend our lives in service. The Eucharist calls us – like them – to give our lives for others.
The Eucharist, and the feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus that we celebrate today, is a miracle of faith. Through the power of the Spirit, bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus, and we who receive it are empowered by that same Spirit to go out and make a little piece of heaven happen here on earth, by living the Eucharist in our lives.
Beloved in Christ, the greatest miracle in the history of the world is God becoming man. And never would there be any miracle greater than this. For us not to forget this, Christ gives us his abiding presence in the Holy Eucharist –another miracle of its own; an everlasting memorial of his suffering and death. That miracle is about to take place once again on this altar. Let us bring before him now all our doubts and fears, our joys and hopes, our prayers and intention, and place them here on this altar; and then let us receive from this altar all that God is giving us – the sacred body and blood of Christ.
*Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya *