Corpus Christi Yr A 6-11-23 Dcn. Bill Kenney

Eucharistic living with Christ’s Real Presence 6-10,11-23    Jn 6:51-58,66-68

      What does it take for you to believe in something? I mean really believe in your heart and soul something is true even if you don’t understand everything about it. What I mean is having faith. Typically, we believe things through our physical senses- sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Is seeing believing? I am certainly fooled by the most basic magic tricks-  I know he made that elephant disappear! Do you believe everything you hear and read on the Internet or from others? Young children believe in secular holiday characters. As Scripture says, “When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.” Yes, as we grow and mature in our faith and understanding, we grow in the grace of Eucharistic living. This grace is realized when we believe in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist through the supernatural, spiritual senses from the Holy Spirit.

     In today’s Gospel message from John, Jesus says no less than five times that we must eat his flesh and drink his blood because it is true food and true drink giving us eternal life. The Jews quarreled at hearing this. They may have said,” Who does he think we are!? We are not cannibals or vampires!”

In a later text, John explains that as a result of this attitude, many of Jesus’ disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. It was too hard a belief for them to accept. Seeing this, Jesus did not recant his words. He did not say, “Oh, just kidding, I meant it as a symbol, not literally, please come back.” No, instead, he doubles-down four times. Jesus then said to the Twelve Apostles, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

     Indeed, the words of the Word of God, Jesus, are true and powerful; they are creative and satisfying; they accomplish what they intend and are worthy of belief. “Cast your nets again”, he says, and they catch fish, “You give them something to eat”, and they feed 5,000, “Lazarus come out!”, and the dead man walks out of his grave.  Why after these and many other signs, wonders, and miracles spoken and accomplished by Jesus would his followers lose their belief and faith in him for his words, “…eat my flesh and drink my blood…?” 

     In 2019 the Pew research organization conducted a survey of self-identified Catholics in regard to their belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. 69% of those polled indicated that the bread and wine offered in Mass were merely symbols of Jesus’ presence.

It was too hard a belief for them to accept Jesus’ real presence: his body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Eucharist. Sound familiar? My how history repeats itself. The spiritual sense is missing. The physical sensory qualities of the Host and wine remain and look, taste, smell, and feel like unleavened wafers of bread and wine. However, during the consecration of the bread and wine by the priest, in the person and Words of Jesus, the underlying substance of the gifts change into Jesus’ Body and Blood. This is called transubstantiation. This is where our spiritual sense, faith, and belief in Jesus’ words are realized. We, the Body of Christ, the Church, acknowledge this miracle with our Communion “amen” at each Mass. The Catechism calls the Eucharist the “Source and Summit of the Christian life”: what it means to be a Catholic. The Real Presence in the Eucharist is a doctrine of the Church passed on from the Kerygma and our earliest Church Fathers. It is a foundation of our Catholic faith.

     Sister Alicia Torres had a recent podcast where she instructed catechism children to draw a picture of Jesus. A 5 yr old boy drew a circle with an “X” in the middle it, and he said to her, “This is Jesus”. “Out of the mouth of babes you have made perfect praise…”. In his own way, this child gave witness to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament- a gift of faith we can all desire.

     In partial response to the shocking results of the Pew poll, the Church has called for a three-year Eucharistic Revival. This year is the Year of

the Parish whereby our Bishop Boyea will shepherd the parishes of his diocese to a greater understanding, love, and faith in Jesus in the Eucharist. Today, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the holy day of the Body and Blood of Christ, kicks-off focused prayer and revival within the diocese.

     This booklet, This Is My Body: A Call to Eucharistic Revival is intended to accompany that revival. In this text, Bishop Robert Barron offers a threefold analysis of the Eucharist as sacred meal, sacrifice, and Real Presence. This booklet helps readers to understand the sacrament of Jesus’ Body and Blood more thoroughly so that they might fall in love with him more completely. These will be distributed in the Fall and further discipleship will begin. You will be hearing much more and asked to participate in this holy crusade in order to live a Eucharistic life.

     And what is a Eucharistic life? It is:  a calling to live-

in joy and thanksgiving for all God’s blessings;

in fraternal communion in order to realize the work of Christ;

a profound belief, reverence, and awe for Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist.

What practical things can you do to live a Eucharistic life?

-Commit yourself to prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

-Read and study a book on the Eucharist and feed your mind so as to better understand the Church’s teaching.

-Volunteer. Allow that call to service to be an expression of your love for the Eucharist.

     The Eucharist nurtures our soul as food nourishes our body on our pilgrimage through earthly life.  It is the greatest gift we are continually offered by God: the gift of his Son. The Eucharist deepens our relationship with the Holy Trinity helping us to live the Eucharistic life. We are called to be a Eucharistic people revealing Christ’s presence in our daily living through the sacrament of charity, the Holy Eucharist.

     It is my sincere prayer that the Holy Spirit move within the souls of all God’s children to awaken in them a Eucharistic Revival. To put aside our unbelief and boldly evangelize the truth of Jesus’ Real Presence; for the sake of our eternal salvation and for the Glory of God.