Sunday homily for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi Year B
Theme: The worth of Jesus in the Eucharist
By: Rev Fr Stephen ’Dayo Osinkoya
Homily for Sunday June 6 2021
Today we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi. This feast is intended to make us value and appreciate the worth of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
“One of the seminarians who give tours of St. Peter’s told me of an interesting incident. He was leading a group of Japanese tourists who knew absolutely nothing of our Faith. With particular care he explained the great masterpieces of art, sculpture and architecture. He finally concluded at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel trying his best to explain quickly what it was. As the group dispersed, an elderly man, who had been particularly attentive stayed behind, and said, “Pardon me. Would you explain again this ‘Blessed Sacrament?’” Our student did, after which the man exclaimed, “Ah, if this is so, what is in this chapel is a greater work of art than anything else in this basilica.”’ [Msgr. Timothy M Dolan in Priests of the Third Millennium, (2000), p. 226.]
The feast of Corpus Christi is three celebrations in one: the feast of the Eucharistic sacrifice, feast of the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the feast of the Real Presence of Jesus. It is a doctrinal feast established for three purposes: 1) to give God collective thanks for Christ’s abiding presence with us in the Eucharist and to honor him there; 2) to instruct the people in the Mystery, Faith and devotion surrounding the Eucharist, and 3) to teach us to appreciate and make use of the unbloody sacrifice of the Mass” (Council of Trent, 1551; CCC # 1374, note 200)
Today’s readings for this feast emphasize the theme of Covenant blood because the ancient peoples sealed covenants with the blood of ritually sacrificed animals, and Jesus sealed this New Covenant with his own Blood, shed on Calvary. Today’s first reading describes how Moses, by sprinkling the blood of a sacrificed animal on the altar and on the people, accepted the covenant Yahweh proposed and made with His People.
The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 116) presents our acceptance of the New Covenant of which Paul speaks in the second reading, affirming that Jesus sealed the New Covenant with his own Blood on Calvary, thereby putting an end to animal sacrifices.
Today’s Gospel details how Jesus converted this ancient ritual into a Sacrament and sacrifice. Instead of the lamb’s blood, Jesus offered his own Divine/human Body and Blood and, instead of just sprinkling us with his blood, Jesus put his body and blood into our hands as food.
The 2nd Vatican council states that as a sacrifice “the Holy Eucharist is the center and culmination of Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, 11).
This is so firstly, because it enables us to participate in Christ’s sacrifice as a present reality and to benefit from its fruits in our own lives. Secondly, because it helps us to worship the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the most perfect way. Thirdly, because it strengthens our charity and unity with Jesus and each other in a joint offering of his Body and Blood to the Father. Fourthly, because it gives us a lasting memorial of Christ’s suffering, death and Resurrection, reminding us of our obligation to make loving sacrifices for others. The Eucharist is the Mystery of our Faith, the mystery of our Hope, the mystery of our Charity.
Life Messages :
- The Eucharist, (the Body and Blood of Christ), teaches us the importance of community, the bond that results from this sacrifice. John Chrysostom says: “What is the Bread actually? The Body of Christ. What do communicants become? The Body of Christ. Just as the bread comes from many grains, which remain themselves and are not distinguished from one another because they are united, so we are united with Christ.” Just as numerous grains of wheat are pounded together to make the host, and many grapes are crushed together to make the wine, so we become unified in this sacrifice. Our Lord chose these elements in order to show us that we ought to seek union with one another, to allow the Holy Spirit to transform us into Our Lord Jesus Christ and to work with Him in the process. Christ is the Head and we are the Body. Together we are one. That which unites us is our willingness to sacrifice our time and talents to God in our fellow members in Christ’s Mystical Body. This is symbolized by our sharing in the same Bread and the same Cup. Hence, Holy Communion should strengthen our sense of unity and love.
- We need to prepare properly to receive Holy Communion: We have tarnished God’s image within us through acts of impurity, injustice, discrimination, disobedience and the like. Hence, there is always need for repentance, and a need for the Sacramental confession of grave sins, before we receive Holy Communion. We should remember the warning given by St. Paul: ” Whoever, therefore, eats the Bread or drinks the Cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the Body and Blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the Bread and drink of the Cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the Body, eat and drink judgment against themselves.” (1 Cor. 11:27-9). Hence, let us receive Holy Communion with fervent love and respect — not merely as a matter of routine.
- We need to become Christ-bearers and -conveyers : By receiving Holy Communion we become Christ-bearers as Mary was, with the duty of conveying Christ to others at home and in the workplace, as love, mercy, forgiveness and humble and sacrificial service.
As we celebrate this great feast of Faith, let us worship what St. Thomas Aquinas did not hesitate to call, “the greatest miracle that Christ ever worked on earth.” ….. My Body …….. My Blood “. Before the greatness of this mystery, let us exclaim with St. Augustine, “O Sacrament of devotion! O Sign of unity! O Bond of charity !” Let us also repeat St. Thomas Aquinas’ prayer of devotion in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament: “O Sacrament most holy! O Sacrament Divine! All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine !”
Rev Fr Stephen ’Dayo Osinkoya