HOMILY FOR THE THE SOLEMNITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI
THEME: THE SACRAMENT OF DIVINE EXCHANGE
By: Fr Livinus C. Igbodekwe
HOMILYFOR SUNDAY JUNE 19 2022
God has throughout history continued to device means of encountering humanity. That is to say that God has been ‘frantic’ about fellowship. He is God all by Himself yet wants to bring down Himself to bear on human reality. From ages past, especially when Adam lost communion and communication with his Maker, God starts reaching out through signs and symbols. He spoke through” Melchizedek’s Gifts of Bread and wine”, “Ark of Noah”, “The Inferno of Nineveh”, “The Rod of Moses”, “The Sea of Reeds”, “The Manna”, “The Rock of Water”, “Ark of the Covenant”, etc. And in the New Testament, Jesus advances the plan/purpose of God through the institution of “Sacraments”. Sacraments are “doorways” of divine communication and communion, in which we celebrate in tangibility and end up possessing the intangible. Grace (God’s life) is communicated to mere mortals.
Jesus Christ institutes the Eucharist (as we read in the Gospels) – a common meal is taken to a higher degree of meaning/ significance. Bread becomes “My Flesh” (Matt 26:26; Jn 6:51).
Jesus feeds the multitude in a miraculous way to introduce a mystery/sacrament. The bread and fish are insufficient for feeding such multitude, the place is a desert and there is insufficiency of fund. Yet, Jesus demands for a ‘gift’ to offer. This is why the oblation of bread and wine should come from the worshipping community at Liturgy. And, Jesus requests the disciples to receive the gifts (which eventually came from a small boy), as priests receive the gifts at Mass. The People sit in faith, as they watch Jesus give thanks (Eucharistein), break the bread and give to His disciples to distribute to the crowd. This scenario brings the Mass to mind. The Act of Consecration is “Christ’s act” (through the power of The Spirit) through the imposition of hands of His priests, and it is in the office of the priests to distribute communion to the people, except permission is extended to the people in the lay state which makes them extraordinary ministers). This level of meaning is literally given by Jesus, the following day after the crowd has eaten bread. Jesus advises them to seek what is greater than mere bread – His Body. Here was the high point of crisis for the crowd. The mystery even staggered the disciples, but they were able to receive the new doctrine, and will later be the ones to perpetuate and teach it to others.
The Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian Faith and Communion. Communion with Christ, and with ourselves. Whenever we gather officially as a body of Christ, it is to break bread (eat Communion) and break the Word, in prayer. We become “What” we eat. Jesus says that when we eat His body and drink His blood we become one with Him. That is to say, we live in Him, and He lives in us by means of the Communion we celebrate and eat.
This is why Holiness of life (state of grace) is a sine qua non (necessary requirement) for the reception of Holy Eucharist. God’s purpose of communion and communication is achieved chiefly in Holy Communion because “men become one with God and God becomes one with men.” The Eucharist consists of the Real Presence of Jesus (His body, blood, divinity), and that is why The Eucharist can be adored and worshipped whether reposed in a tabarnacle, in a monstrance or in the vessels or linen.
The form of prayer used throughout the celebration of the Eucharist is more of Prayer of Thanksgiving (as the word “Eucharistia” implies). In the Holy Mass, we give God thanks for the immense grace of sharing Himself with us, mere humans, who are quite undeserving of Him. We can’t but give thanks! We are a Eucharistic Church, proudly!
Happy Corpus Christi Sunday!