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The Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ

Entrance Antiphon: Ps 81(80) – “He fed them with the finest wheat and satisfied them with honey from the rock.” First Reading: Gen 14: 18-20 – “Melchizedek brought out bread and wine.” Responsorial Psalm: Ps 110: 1, 2, 3, 4 – “You are a priest forever, in the line of Melchizedek.” Second Reading: 1 Cor 11:23-26 – “For as often as you eat and drink, you proclaim the death of the Lord. Sequence: Lauda Sion Alleluia Verse: Jn 6:51 – “I am the living bred that came down from heaven says the Lord; whoever eats this bread will live forever.” Gospel: Lk 9: 11b-17 – “They all ate and were satisfied.” Communion Antiphon: Jn 6:57 – “Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood remains in me and I in him, says the Lord.”

I want to begin by saying Happy Father’s Day to all of our Dads, Grand-dads, and Great-Grand-dads! Happy Father’s Day to all of our Dads-to-Be, our new Dads, our Godfathers, Stepfathers, Uncles, and Spiritual Fathers. And Happy Father’s Day to all those who treat us as if they were our Dads or who we look up to as Dads… Happy Father’s Day … Enjoy the day!

The Jordan River plunges as it rushes from the headwaters below Mount Hermon through the Sea of Galilee, 680 feet below sea level. This body is the lowest freshwater lake on earth. It is teaming with life. It was on the Sea of Galilee that Peter, Andrew, James, and John fished. It was there that Jesus calmed the sea and walked on water. This is in contrast to the Dead Sea, the lowest body of water on earth, a landlocked salt lake about 1400 feet below sea level. The Jordan River empties into this sea. However, there is no flow on the southern side. The Sea of Galilee takes and gives. The Dead Sea only takes. So today, I have a question for you to consider. When receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, are you like the Sea of Galilee or are you like the Dead Sea?

This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, in other words, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. As Catholic Christians, we should all believe that the person of Jesus Christ is fully present in the consecrated bread and wine. At least I hope we do ... and I don’t think you’d be here today if you didn’t. When we receive Holy Communion, we receive Jesus Christ. We are in co-union with Him. This spiritual food enriches us and becomes part of our spirit if we are open to it. In essence, we gradually become what we eat. To borrow the line once again from a fellow-Priest and friend, “It’s all about the food.”

Belief in the Real Presence takes faith. Some ask, “It looks and tastes like bread and wine, how can we say that it is really Christ?” – At the Last Supper, Saint Matthew says: “Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to His disciples said, ‘Take and eat; this is My body.’ Then He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you, for this is My blood of the covenant . . .’” – In the sixth chapter of Saint John’s Gospel, Jesus often says over and over that “unless we eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, we will not have eternal life.” The apostles said, “This is a hard saying.” and if we were to continue reading the account, Jesus did not soften His statement, but instead He repeated it several times, indicating its importance. And as the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son, Jesus doesn’t lie to anyone.

In 1215 at the Fourth Lateran Council, the Catholic Church had already agreed to use the term transubstantiation to describe the Real Presence. This means that in the Eucharist, the substance of ordinary bread and wine has been replaced by the substance of Jesus Christ’s Body and Blood. This leaves unchanged the accidents, in other words, properties or qualities of the bread and wine, such as size, taste, smell, color, and so on. Lateran Council IV in 1215 also sought to increase reverence for the Eucharist in several ways. It decided that all Christians must confess mortal sins at least once a year before receiving Holy Communion. It required all the faithful to make sure that churches were clean, and that altar vessels and linens used at Mass were also clean. It stressed the importance of the worship space of a church as a sacred place. a place of quiet ... a place of prayer, which is why later churches were often built with a narthex, or gathering space.

On the Eve of Corpus Christi, June 18, 2022, Bishop Sullivan led a Procession with the Eucharist on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City. Corpus Christi, June 19, 2022, marks the beginning of a three-year nationwide Eucharistic Revival. Stay tuned ... as over the next three years there will be many more programs ... both here in the Parish, in our Diocese, and across the country ... to reaffirm and to re-educate the Catholic Faithful about the sacredness of Corpus Christi, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ ... the Eucharist. We will rediscover the meaning of the Mass. We will be reminded of the reasons we gather in memory of what Jesus told us to do at the Last Supper and why we celebrate this not only every weekend, but every day around the world as God’s faithful people.

And as another facet of the precious jewel we have received from Jesus Christ, Holy Communion is also meant to unite us, not only to the Son of God, present in the elements of bread and wine, but also to each other. We are the Body of Christ. To welcome Jesus without welcoming everyone all in the Body of Christ is to be like the Dead Sea. We receive, but we do not share. The multiplication of the loaves and the fish in this weekend’s Gospel is a prequel ... a foreshadowing ... of the Eucharist and is also a lesson in sharing. Jesus receives the gift of a few fish and five barley loaves (the bread of the poor) and multiplies these to feed more than five thousand. Christ challenges us to offer the little we have either our time, our treasure, or our talent ... and trust that God can multiply our gift. In Saint John’s account of the multiplication of the loaves and fish, it is a young boy who gave his lunch away, risking going hungry.

And so, as we end the Liturgy of the Word and begin the Liturgy of the Eucharist, consider a few more recent examples of children who have seen a need and responded.

– When five-year-old Hannah Taylor saw a homeless man eating out of a garbage can, she set out to cure the world of homelessness. Now 25 years old, Hannah’s Lady Bug Foundation has raised more than three million dollars.

– Craig Kielberger was 12 when he read about child labor and the 250 million child laborers in the world. He started Free the Children, an organization of children helping children.

– When Alexandra “Alex” Scott was four, she set up a lemonade stand to raise funds for a cure for cancer, which she had. Although she died at age 8, her organization Kids with Cancer and “Alex’s Lemonade Stand” has raised over 100 million dollars for research.

And so, today, when you approach the altar to receive Christ, ask yourself, “How can I share the gifts I have received? Where is there a need that moves my heart?” Don’t worry about the size of your offering. It is God who multiplies. Be like the Sea of Galilee. Be filled with Christ’s life and share it.

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