The Body and Blood of Christ!

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Genesis 14:18-20

I Corinthians 11:23-26

Luke 9:11-17

 

On December 12, 1995, I was working at Our Lady of the Lake Church, in Holland, Michigan, when we received a call that the other Catholic Church, St. Francis de Sales, was burning. As Msgr. Duncan and I jumped in his car and raced over there we could see the black billowing smoke rising from downtown. When we arrived, Fr. Steve was coming out of the burning church carrying the Eucharist which he took from the Blessed Sacrament. Fr. Steve knew what the center of his life was, and he was willing to risk his life for the Eucharist.

 

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. What we celebrate is in St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians as this is our earliest account of the Last Supper. When Jesus raised the bread and the wine and said, “This is my body, this is my blood,” he meant what he said to be true. It is “not” a symbol, a want to be; it is the real presence. The Eucharist is not a “what,” but a “who.” Don’t get lost in how bread and wine turn into the body and blood of Christ. Come to believe that it is the body and blood of Christ, and are we will like Fr. Steve to give our lives to it?

 

There is something else that Jesus meant at the Last Supper, and that is when he says, “Do this in memory of me.” Jesus clearly intends that when we gather to celebrate the Eucharist that we recall all that he has done for us. What is harder to believe, that simple bread and wine can be transformed into the body and blood of Christ, or that a community of believers becomes the body and blood of Christ after they have partaken of the Eucharist?  There are no observers at the table of the Eucharist. We are dismissed as the body and blood of Christ to go and proclaim that good news.  

 

My friends in Christ, Jesus did not write a book, or leave us a set of rules of how to be a follower of his. What he left us, is a meal, a feast, so when we do this in his name, we can be changed into his Body and his Blood. Our tables of food in our homes are to be a reflection of what we do around this table. We have lost the sense of sharing a meal with people.  How many have eaten a meal in their car this week? How many have eaten standing up because you were in a hurry to get somewhere else? In ancient times meals were times to share one’s life, to laugh to cry, to be with someone, and to have it life-changing. The Eucharist we share is meant to be sharing of one’s life, to laugh to cry, and to have it be life-changing.   

 

As we come forward to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, may we become even more the Body of Christ!

Prayer!

Thursday Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time

II Corinthians 11:1-11

Matthew 6:7-15

 

There was a man who would run into the church at noon each day, kneel for just a minute and get up and leave. One day the pastor caught him and asked, “Why do you come here each day for just a minute and leave?” The man replied, “I come to pray.” The pastor asked, “What do you say in less than one minute?” The man responded, “I pray, Jesus, here I am. It’s Jim.” When the man became sick and was in the hospital, the pastor came to see him every day, and when he arrived, he noticed two things each time. He noticed that there were always two chairs right up close to his bed and that the guy was always happy. The pastor asked him why there were two chairs and why the guy was always happy. The man said, “I have two chairs, one for you, Father, and one for Jesus.” The pastor asked, “And what does Jesus say to you?” He says, “Hey, Jim, here I am. It’s Jesus!”

 

There is so much that can be said about prayer since we as Catholic has the richest treasure of prayer. To me the most important thing about prayer is that we show up. All of you know something about prayer as you come to daily Mass. You are an inspiration to me because you are people of prayer. I do not know all of your stories, but praying the Eucharist is important to you.

 

May our celebration of this great prayer help to make us a living prayer?

 

 

How to toot our horn!

Wednesday Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time

II Corinthians 9:6-11

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

 

On the steering wheel of our cars there is a small symbol that resembles a horn. We use the horn with a short toot to gets someone’s attention or we may lay on the horn to tell someone to get out of the way. Our readings today have to do with knowing when to toot our horn and when not to.

 

In our Gospel we go back to our Ash Wednesday reading where Jesus says, “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them.” The point that Christ is making is, “What is the intention behind our action?” To perform religious deeds so others may see us is a form of idolatry. The question would be is our public actions to bring more attention to ourselves?” I know there are many times I do the right thing for the wrong reason. I may do it for power, ego or lust.

 

Jesus gives us the pillars of our spiritual lives of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to keep our inward lives and our outward lives in check.

 

St. Paul is just as challenging as he says, “Whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

 

May we sow with the best of God’s intentions by the grace given to us in this Eucharist?

 

 

Love until it hurts!

Tuesday of the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time

II Corinthians 8:1-9

Matthew 5:43-48

 

We have made our Catholic Service Appeal assessment in pledges, and I am very grateful. We are doing ok, in “Our Shepherds our Future Capital Campaign,” but we have a long way to go. As I reflect on our readings for today, I wish I had the charisma of St. Paul and Jesus as they would be excellent stewardship speakers.

 

When Paul traveled around sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, he would take up a collection for the Mother Church of Jerusalem. It was the first CSA collection. In our first reading, when Paul was in Macedonia, he asked for a collection of money to be taken for the Church in Jerusalem, and the people generously gave even though they lived in poverty and were under great hardship. Paul is now in Corinth, and as a sign of unity to the larger church, Paul asks for the people of Corinth to give as the people in Macedonia gave to the church. Paul asks, “As a sign of unity, what are you ready to give?”

 

In our Gospel, Jesus is also a compelling stewardship speaker as he is saying, “It is not enough to take care of your own, and anyone can do that. Our love and our sense of giving much outshine everyone else.”

 

Mother Teresa said, “The meaning of true love; is to give until it hurts.”

 

We live in a world of great abundance. How will we respond to this life of generosity and blessing from the Lord? May we respond with all of our hearts this day.

 

 

The Trinity a mystery to experience!

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Proverbs 8:22-31

Romans 5:1-5

John 16:12-15

 

Begin by making the Sign of the Cross: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

 

What we just did was a public expression of the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. We profess a belief that there is only one God who has revealed himself to us as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; three distinct persons in one God. The doctrine of the Most Holy Trinity is a mystery, but we come to know this mystery, but God’s great love poured out in us as it is the very essences of our faith.

 

The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity brings us to ask, “How do we know God?” We come to know God not so much by an intellectual ascent but by experiencing his love for us. The Jewish people came to know God as he poured his love into them, and they were able to see God through all their experiences in their lives. They had the prophets who told them how to live in God’s love. Then one day, this mystery of God’s love took a deeper experience when God the Father, sent his Son to be among us.  In Jesus, the experience of God became very real as God walked among them as a man, fully human and fully divine. Jesus spoke many times of his intimate relationship with his Father. The disciples came to know God’s love in this intimate relationship, and then Jesus died, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. At first, this was very troubling for the disciples, but Jesus had told them he would send someone to help them know this love, and he sent them the Holy Spirit.

 

Our belief in this triune God is the most radical thing we can do. We speak about God loving us, but do we know it, believe it, and show it in our lives? The mystery of the Holy Trinity is the most fundamental belief we have as Christians. This mystery of God’s love begins at Baptism, and we are marked with a sign of the cross on our foreheads. In celebrating the Eucharist, we start and end by making the sign of the cross. In Confirmation, we are signed with sacred oil on our foreheads with the sign of the cross, and in death, we are signed with the oil on our foreheads. In every decision we make, we begin by making the sign of the cross. The signing of ourselves is our reminder of this great love.   

 

What we celebrate in the Most Holy Trinity is a mystery, and I will never be able to explain what it means, but we can know it through God’s love. Our Solemnity is constantly at work in our lives as we are being invited to go deeper and deeper into this mystery. “St. John Chrysostom said, “Never leave home without making the sign of the cross. It will be your staff, your weapon against all evil. The sign of the cross is your armor, and let that be a lesson to all evil.”

 

My brothers and sisters in the Most Holy Trinity may we experience God’s love for us and continue to trust in that love and have that hope to live in love?

Close by making the sign of the cross: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

 

I share your pain!

Friday Tenth Week of Ordinary Time

II Corinthians 4:7-15

Matthew 5:27-32

 

I spoke to someone yesterday who said, “I am not sure I can go on, there is so much stuff going on in my life right now, I am not sure where to turn?” Our readings are about the pain that others bring to us and the pains we impose on ourselves.

 

In our first readings, St. Paul says, “We hold this treasure in an earthen vessel.” What Paul knows is when pain and suffering come to us by words and affliction, our earthen vessel” is easily cracked or worst, yet it may be even shattered.  Paul offers us that when then happens to look to Christ because there is where the grace is to move on.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus is saying be careful not to bring extra pain and suffering onto yourself that you do not need too. Why do you do these things that bring you suffering? Jesus is saying to stay clear of those things that take us away from him. Keep your hearts, your eyes, and your minds clear, and you will not have to suffer needlessly. Keep yourselves pure, and God will bless you. Sin begins with the intention of sin, not the act itself.

 

The key is to embrace all of life, including our pain. All of our painful situations make way for a deeper life in Christ. We need to trust that it will be ok in the end. If it is not ok, then it is not the end! May we turn to Christ in this Eucharist because God has come to save us?

 

How do we learn to forgive?

Thursday Tenth Week of Ordinary Time

II Corinthians 3:15-4:1, 3-6

Matthew 5:20-26

  

Our readings have to do with a subject we all struggle with, and that is forgiveness and reconciliation. Our readings encourage us to deal with those people in our life who may drive us crazy.

 

In our first reading, St. Paul’s says, “There is a thin veil that covers our eyes that prevents us from seeing the truth of where God wants us to be.” We know this is often the case when we struggle with to get along with someone. Paul continues by saying, “Our spirit is always trying to set us free.” The role of our spirit is to be set free of painful situations, so we need to be attentive to the Spirit and remove this thin veil.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus begins by saying, “I expect you to be holier than the holiest people in the known world.” He continues by saying, “Before you go to worship, if you any grievance against someone, leave your gift at the altar and go and be reconciled with that person.” Reconciliation is different than forgiveness; to be reconciled means that both people forgive and mend their differences.

 

How do we do all of this? We need to acknowledge the hurt and be clear on what the difference is with the person. Secondly, we need to be aware that because of the situation our lives are in transition, which can leave us feeling on shaky ground. To work to a solution, we need to seek solitude. Solitude does not take us away from away, but it gives us a base to see the Lord working in our lives. Our feelings may be going everywhere, and we need this solitude to keep us grounded. We need to present those feelings to the Lord and know that he promises to send his wisdom.

 

We need to be people of hope, knowing that God is doing all he can to move us to forgive. May we feel the peace that comes with reconciliation?