DateDescriptionHomilist
2020-06-14Corpus ChristiRev. Msgr. Michael J. Motta, D.Min.


Today, we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi, which translates to the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. When we Catholics talk about the Body of Christ – usually we are talking about Holy Communion or the Eucharist. Eucharist is a Greek word that means “thanksgiving” – so when we celebrate the Eucharist we are having a thanksgiving meal.

Most of us have fond memories of our First Holy Communion. I would like to relate a story about the First Holy Communion of a child that I know. The parents of this child, good friends of mine, were preparing their daughter for this big event of receiving the Eucharist for the first time. In anticipation of this momentous occasion they decided to take their daughter to one of her favorite restaurants, McDonald’s, for a meal. On the way into McDonald’s, they encountered a homeless man who was obviously very hungry as he was looking for food in the trash barrel. The mother of the girl suggested that they buy him a meal. The man was thrilled at his good fortune and accepted the food with gratitude. As the young family sat down to eat their own meals the mother commented to her child. Giving that man a meal is a lot like what Jesus would have done. Do you know what the little girl replied? I think that inviting the poor man to eat with us is what Jesus would have done. Out of the mouth of babes we get a better understanding of God. It is no wonder that Jesus said: pointing to a little child – It is to just such as these that the Kingdom of God belongs.

Sometimes I think we take the most profound things in life for granted. Holy Communion is one of these. Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John that “anyone who eats this bread will live forever.” Jesus Christ is present in Holy Communion. God comes to us in a spiritual food, not just in some symbolic way. Jesus Christ, who is God, comes to us as food to eat. And when we eat this food, God becomes a part of us.

Other religions, offered animal sacrifices and food offerings to their gods. Our God offers himself to us. Let me repeat that concept. Other religions offered sacrifices to their gods – our God offers himself as a sacrifice for us. Our God died so that we could live.

Sometimes people ask me this question. How does the Catholic religion differ from other Christian denominations? Most of the time people answer that question by saying well, Catholics have the Pope and the Sacrament of confession or a devotion to Mary and the saints. While these answers are correct, I do not think that it says enough.

As Catholics, we believe that God comes to us in special ways when we receive the sacraments. And the most preeminent sacrament of all is the Eucharist. We believe, as Catholics, that we actually consume the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we really believe this, then our lives should take on a whole new meaning. God actually lives within us. I think that St. Augustine said it very well. Augustine said, “Be what you see and receive what you are.” Be the Body of Christ. Be Jesus Christ to the people that you meet. See Christ in other people especially the poor.

Mother Theresa said that she would not be able to serve the poorest of the poor unless she saw in them Jesus Christ and she did see Jesus in them. Where did she get her spiritual strength? By receiving the Eucharist or the Body of Christ, by praying in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Be what you see – the Body of Christ and receive what you are – the Body of Christ.

It is quite obvious that there is a hunger in our society. I think that it is a “spiritual hunger.” This hunger can only be filled by our belief in God. Jesus Christ, in the Eucharist, is the greatest gift that you will ever receive. When people told you on your First Communion day that it was the most important day of our life, they were right. Do not take Jesus Christ for granted. Let’s take another look at the word Eucharist. It sounds a lot like “you are Christ.” You may be the only Christ that people ever meet. What an awesome responsibility! A person’s understanding of Jesus Christ and his message may be you and your life – for good or for bad. Being Jesus Christ and seeing Jesus Christ in other people is what St. Augustine meant when he said: Be what you see and receive what you are. If you believe in Jesus Christ then you cannot walk out of this Church the same person who entered it.

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