The Body and Blood of Christ – Fr. Pete Iorio
June 14, 2020 – 11:00 AM
This beautiful solemnity that we celebrate today is a joyous celebration of the reality that Christ accompanies us in our ordinary life, through the little things of our daily routine. From the beginning, CORPUS CHRISTI was a processional festival, where people took to the streets, carrying the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance, singing and dancing. Many times, the procession included parts of the sacred history of the people, emphasizing the presence of God among his particular people. Today many parishes follow this custom, taking to the streets in procession. It is a loss for us this year that it is not possible because of the coronavirus.
But this year, we jubilantly celebrate initiation rites for adults who have been preparing for a long time under the guidance of Mercy Sister Yvette Gillen. Three people will receive the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and First Communion. Some will be received into full communion of the Catholic Church and will receive Confirmation and First Communion. I also have special permission from the bishop to Confirm two folks who are already Catholic. These people were going to receive the sacraments during the Easter Vigil and in the spring celebration of Confirmation accordingly, but you know that we could not celebrate masses with people during those holy weeks. Thank God that we are here celebrating Corpus Christi in a very special way and joyful way.
The Gospel insists that Jesus is the bread come down from Heaven that gives eternal life. In his time, Jesus understood well that people needed this message, and we need it today.
We know that in leaving us the Eucharist, Holy Communion, Jesus invites us to his table, and to a deep intimacy. He invites us as a family, not letting us live as isolated individuals. We gather at Mass as a community of faith and hope. It is a time of sharing. We come with our illusions and our sorrows, our joys and our fears. We don’t have to be strong or perfect. We just have to gather with confidence and humility. We come not because we are worthy. We come because Jesus himself seeks us and wants us to be at the table.
There is a power in ritual or sacred rites. Repeating gestures: making the sign of the Cross; lighting candles; eating the Eucharist, using incense; praying the litany of the saints, singing in procession – all of these things and more are ways that we identify who we are. We are human beings who need relationships. The quarantine exposed loneliness in people, a longing for face to face; human to human interaction. Zoom meetings just don’t measure up to who we are made to be… human beings in intimate relationships with one another. I know many are still joining us by livestream, and I want to assure you that you all are particularly held in my heart and prayer. For your own well-being, I commend you for doing what is right. One of our candidates is sick and cannot be here today. She so longs to celebrate these rituals and receive the Eucharist. Also, Sister Yvette wants to be here, and I hope she is watching on live stream. Her community will not let her travel. They are all still in lockdown in the Mercy Convent in Nashville. And when it is safe to be together in face to face, human to human contact relationship again, we will rejoice even more in who God made us to be – living in intimate relationships of love. We remember that we celebrated that mystery last week on Trinity Sunday.
Today the Church invites us to celebrate this great mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ. We don’t have to understand the how or the why of the mystery. We just have to thank him for this generous gift from a God of goodness.
What is more important is to believe that as we approach the sacrament, we receive the Body and Blood, the soul and the divinity of Jesus Christ, this intimate union of God with us, and also the intimate union of all of us to one another. Communion is the love of Jesus made visible. Communion is the caress that Jesus extends to us. Communion is the consolation that God offers us. Communion is the strength that God gives us to keep going. Communion is the challenge we receive to become a presence of love for others.