Body and Blood of Christ

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/09/29 at 12:00 AM

The great Carmelite mystic, St. John of the Cross, once wrote that: “Love is paid only with love itself” (cf. Spiritual Canticle).
This beautiful thought has been the fodder of much meditation by the generations of Carmelites who have followed St. John of the Cross, most notably St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who wrote famously in her autobiography that: “Love is repaid by love alone.”
The point that both St. John and St. Thérèse are making is that when we are confronted with an act of love, most especially the gratuitous love our Lord showed us by His passion, death and resurrection, the soul who is true to Him has one legitimate response: to love in return. For no other response will do!
There is no bartering with love, no equivalent that can compare. One who loves is only satisfied when his beloved loves him in return. Indeed, centuries of poets and playwrights alike have written of the terrible suffering occasioned by unrequited love.
Unrequited love is painful because love costs us. Love, by its very nature, is sacrificial; it’s self-giving. When we love someone, we don’t just give them gifts; we give them our very selves. Whatever gifts we give to our beloved are simply symbols of ourselves.
So when the love we offer is rejected, the pain is acute for we feel quite deeply that our entire self has been rejected. And yet when our love is accepted and returned in kind, is there any greater joy that man can experience?
That sharing of love is what makes marriage not only beautiful but holy! For sharing in love makes us more like God, Who Is Love Itself. Indeed, love – when exercised properly and legitimately – has the power to transform our souls, to make them lovely!
Today Holy Mother Church celebrates one of Her great feasts of love: the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
For in the Eucharist we find Love Himself loving us by sacrificing His very self for us. The Eucharist is a sign that our Lord desires to be with us at all times, and that He is willing to go to the greatest lengths to unite us with Himself.
Imagine: the Lord of all creation condescends to become bread and wine – food and drink not only for our consumption, but for our salvation. Incredible, isn’t it?
Yet should we really be surprised? For God’s very nature is love. Indeed, in his first epistle St. John the Evangelist tells us God is Love Itself (I John 4:8). But St. John goes further by teaching us that “he who abides in love abides in God, and God in Him.”
Created in God’s image and likeness, all of us are called to a vocation of love: to be love in the world, and ultimately to enter into a Communion of Love with the Holy Trinity for all eternity. To abide with Him in love is the reason why God created us.
No matter what specific plan our Lord has willed for our lives, all of us are called to love Him in return.
Last Sunday as we honored the Holy Trinity, I mentioned that we cannot acknowledge the truth of the Most Holy Trinity without worshiping the Most Holy Trinity. The ineffable mystery of our 1 God being 3 divine Persons actually demands our worship!
Truly, in the face of the beautiful mystery of the Trinity, we can see that God alone is to be worshiped and adored, and that our entire lives – even the smallest details of them – must be ordered to worshiping Him and doing His will.
This mystery of Our Lord giving us His body, blood, soul, and divinity in Holy Communion is further confirmation of this truth! For what further proof can God give us of His love outside of the Eucharist!
We get a sense of the gratuitousness of God’s love in Holy Communion in today’s Gospel story in which our Lord feeds thousands of people with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread.
And we get a small sense of our duty to repay our Lord for His love in the first reading. After routing his foes, Abram goes to the high priest Melchizedek, who brings out bread and wine and blesses Abram.
In return, Abram gives to Melchizedek a tenth of the booty he has collected, a symbol of his gratitude and his recognition of God’s saving power.
But if Abram gave the high priest 10% in return for the gift of ordinary bread and wine, should not we give our Lord our entire selves for the gift of the Eucharist, which is not simply bread and wine, but His very Body and Blood?
Thus our lives here on earth should be one continual act of love to God. And so it is that we must constantly seek to honor and please the Lord with everything that we do.
Last Sunday as we considered the ineffable greatness of the Most Holy Trinity, I asked you to examine the way you worship our Triune Lord.
Today, as we consider this remarkable gift of love the Lord gives us in the Eucharist, I ask you to consider the way you approach and receive our Lord in Holy Communion.
Are you as loving, reverent and receptive to our Lord as possible when you receive?
A couple of years ago we began using the altar rail at all the Masses. This decision wasmade after a great deal of thought and prayer in the hopes of impressing upon all of you the
supreme seriousness of receiving Holy Communion as reverently as possible.

The altar rail is a great reminder that we are not equal to God, and that we should alwaysapproach Him with as much respect and reverence as we can muster.
At the same time, it’s important to give some thought to how we receive, i.e., in the hand oron the tongue. I realize this is a delicate personal issue for many of you, and I don’t mean to offend any of you, but please hear me out on this. My goal here is to foster and deepen the love you have for God and the way you express it to Him.
While it is the right of Catholics in this country to receive either way, Holy Mother Church has a clear preference for Communion on the tongue. Receiving on the tongue is Church’s long-standing tradition, and it is the norm for receiving Holy Communion.
Practically speaking, receiving on the tongue eliminates the possibility of losing tiny particles of the Host, which so often stick to our hands when we receive in the hand, and so it helps prevent sacrilege.
Moreover, receiving on the tongue rather than in the hand reminds us implicitly that the food we receive in Holy Communion is no ordinary food that we should handle like any thing else we put into our mouths.
But more importantly, receiving on the tongue fosters the sense of utter receptivity that we, the Bride of Christ, should have for Christ our bridegroom. In receiving in this manner, we allow the Lord to feed us, while we simply receive the gift.
I bring up receiving on the tongue and kneeling for this very reason: our exterior actions in receiving Holy Communion help us to cultivate our interior disposition toward the Eucharist. Our actions shape our beliefs!
As concerns our interior disposition, in addition to being clean of grave sin and in full agreement with the Church’s teachings, we should receive our Lord with gratitude and love. We are the bride approaching our bridegroom!
Of course you are free to exercise your right to receive either way. However, if you do choose to receive on the hand, aside from ensuring that your hands are clean and that you’re using both hands, please be sure to consume any particles of the Host left on your hand.
But most importantly, regardless of how you receive, make sure that your soul is clean! No matter what, do not receive Holy Communion if you are aware of any un-confessed grave sin on your soul. And receive our Lord thoughtfully, and with great love.
So as we make our way to the altar rail, kneel down and await our Lord, like the 5 wise virgins who had full flasks of oil, we must have hearts full of love and devotion, minds that are recollected and focused on Him alone, and souls prepared for union with Him.
My dear brothers and sisters, love is repaid by love alone. May we repay our Lord’s love shown to us in this great gift of self by always receiving the Eucharist with the utmost reverence, devotion, and gratitude.
02 June 2013

© Reverend Timothy Reid

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

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.



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