Body and Blood of Christ

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2015/06/05 at 12:00 AM


A little over 20 years ago when I was preparing to convert to Catholicism, I made my first confession to a gentle, older priest who was very kind to me.
After I made that first confession, we spent about an hour talking about why I was converting to the Catholic faith, and the priest asked me whom my favorite saint was.
Sadly, at the time, I didn’t know much about any saints. I had heard a few names bandied around: St. Joseph, St. Francis of Assisi, and a few other “name brand” saints – but I didn’t really know any of them.
But after listening to the priest talk about the importance of the saints, I decided to get to know at least a few of them. And so I did, and in the past 20 years that I’ve been a Catholic, I’ve been blessed with many favors and divine aids from the Church’s saints.
So when we built this church, I wanted to make sure that we had many images of saints placed throughout the building. That’s why it was such a delight to find our stained glass windows and our relics, and to create our beautiful statues.
Having images of the saints is important because they are truly that great cloud of witnesses that inspires us to rid ourselves of every burden and sin so that we might persevere in running the race that lies ahead of us.
From their place in Heaven they encourage us and intercede for us. And if we are devoted to them, they become devoted to us, showering us with the gift of their assistance in our times of need. They become our friends.
But what I’ve found most important about the saints is that they show us that holiness in this life is possible. They show us how to love our Lord in heroic fashion. And truly, showing love to our Lord is what today’s feast is all about.
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. As we honor our Lord’s Most Holy Body and Blood, we come to an even greater understanding of the tremendous love our Lord has for us.
For in this mystery of our faith we come to see once again that our Lord will go to any lengths necessary to help us achieve the end for which we have been created: complete union with Him.
It is God’s great desire that we be in intimate union with Him, that we be joined to Him as a man is joined to his wife, which is why we refer to the Church as the Bride of Christ.
Indeed, God desires that we have a covenantal relationship with Him. A covenant is a binding agreement in which two parties join themselves together in mutual love and fidelity; it is an agreement to give one’s very self for the sake of the other.
Our readings today speak of how our Lord has reached out to man in this covenantal fashion. From our first reading we hear of the covenant our Lord made with the Israelites through Moses.
To signify this covenant, the Book of Exodus tells us that Moses sprinkled the people with the blood of sacrificed bulls, saying: “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you.”
In contrast our second reading from Hebrews tells of how Christ created a new and eternal covenant. As the great high priest, Christ offers a new and unblemished sacrifice: His very self.
Instead of the blood of bulls, in this new and eternal covenant the blood that signifies and effects this life‐giving covenant is Jesus’ blood, poured out on Calvary.
We enter into our personal covenant with our Lord through the Sacrament of Baptism, and we consummate it through the reception of Holy Communion.
Just as a bride receives her bridegroom in an intimate, life‐giving way, so too do we – the Bride of Christ – receive our Lord in an act of intimacy that promises eternal life.
This covenant that we have with God gives us a claim on Him, and it gives Him a claim on us. This covenant binds us in a union of love with our Lord. The Eucharist is the sign of this holy bond of love.
And so it is that our lives here on earth should be one continual act of love to God. Everything we do, even the mundane acts of daily life, can be offered to God as acts of love.
Moreover, it is for the love of God that we’ve been having our 40 Hours devotion this weekend. It is for the love of God that we have adoration for 33 hours every week. It’s why we’re having the Eucharistic procession after the 10:30 Mass today.
Indeed, the love of God should be the primary reason we come to Mass, and the main motivation behind our prayers and private devotions.
You see, every little act of pious devotion, every sincere prayer, every quiet sacrifice we make and penance we take on, every act of charity done for another is a means for us to love God.
And these little acts of love are so important, for they prepare us for even greater acts of love – such as we see in the lives of the saints. The lives of the saints show us that we never know what our blessed Lord may call us to do out of love for Him.
So we must be prepared, my brothers and sisters, for we are all called to be saints. We are all called to love our Lord in heroic fashion. Thus, let us prepare to love our Lord in this way by forming ourselves now with little acts of love.
In particular, as we celebrate this great feast of Our Lord’s Most Holy Body and Blood, let us show our love for God by our reverence for Christ’s true presence in the Blessed Sacrament.
Let us make time to visit our Eucharistic Lord regularly in humble adoration; let us show modesty, reverence, and respect whenever we are in His presence; and let us always receive Him with souls free of mortal sin and with true devotion.
And let us trust that by so doing, we too will one day be amongst that great cloud of witnesses the Church venerates as Her saints.
O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving, be every moment Thine!
10 June 2012

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

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