Homilies

Corpus Christi Sunday - 22 June 2014

MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY, 22ND JUNE 2014 AT 11.00 A.M., SOLEMNITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI.
 
My dear Brothers and Sisters,

While he still walked on the earth Jesus taught his apostles to pray as he did with the confidence and familiarity of a young person to their father.  He instructed us to ask for daily bread and then he became that bread.

Shortly before his death and departure, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to his disciples so that they would receive his very body and blood.  When Jesus’ body was broken and his blood poured out on the cross he remained with us, hidden but powerfully present under the appearances of bread and wine.  After Jesus rose his followers gathered again and again to take bread and wine, offer them with him to the Father, and by his power to receive him in Holy Communion.  Today’s feast shows that we are one with Jesus and one with each other.

What we do here in the Eucharist is the centre of our whole Christian life.  It is the summit towards which all our activity in the Church is directed and it provides the strength and power which nourishes our family and our personal life.

Karl Rahner describes the Eucharist as “in this Sacrament we receive the pure blessedness from heaven as though wrapped in the hard shell of custom, but nevertheless in all truth.”  Today is an important day to thank God for the gift of the Eucharist.  We believe that at the Last Supper Jesus instituted the Eucharist and commissioned his apostles and those whom they would appoint as priests and bishops to do this in memory of me

Our Catholic faith is that the bread and wine offered in the Mass are changed into the body and blood of Christ though the appearances remain.  Christ is present in every part of the bread and every part of the wine and is received totally in receiving any part of either species.  The presence of Christ remains as long as the species remain incorrupt.  The Church’s constant tradition has been to reserve the Blessed Sacrament outside of the time of Mass for taking to the sick, where Christ is intended to be food, medicine and comfort and also for adoration in the church and for carrying in procession. 

All of these statements emphasise Christ’s intention to be food, medicine and comfort:  food in the celebration of the Eucharist; medicine to those who are sick; comfort to us who come to ponder and realise the mystery, that Christ has chosen to be present under the simplest substance so as to be accessible for us. 

Saint Cyril says, “Do not doubt whether this is true, but rather receive the words of the Saviour in faith, for since he is the truth he cannot lie.”  (Saint Cyril of Alexandria in Luke 22:19)

In our churches the tabernacle is intended to emphasise the truth that Christ is really present in the Eucharist and our need outside of the time of Mass to come before him in adoration to bring our cares and needs.

Pope John Paul II said in Dominicae Cenae, “The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic worship.  Jesus awaits us in this Sacrament of love.  Let us not refuse the time to go and meet him in adoration, in contemplation, full of faith, and open to making amends for the serious offences and crimes of the world.  Let our adoration never cease.” 

It is certainly my intention throughout the Archdiocese to encourage public adoration of the Eucharist in the tabernacle and in the special adoration of Exposition.  This helps us to see Jesus visibly present, to bring our lives to him and to personalise the prayers and needs that we express as a community in the Mass. 

Saint John Vianney said that God and our soul are like two pieces of wax.  Through adoration they become fused with love and become one.  Adoration makes us one with Christ and his words, deeds and plan for us become also the plan of our life.

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore

Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,

See Lord at thy service low lies here a heart

Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

 

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived;

How says trusty hearing?  That shall be believed;

What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;

Truth himself speaks truly or there is nothing true.

(Saint Thomas Aquinas, Adoro Te Devote)

 
At each sharing of the body and blood of the Lord we are also to consciously remember our belief that we who have gathered are also the body of Christ, God’s pilgrim people going through the procession of our life, led by Christ our Head.  He was broken and given in love for others, so must we too give our service in imitation of him who is with us.

+ Denis J. Hart,

ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE

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