Sunday, June 10, 2007

Corpus Christi - homily

I am in a great mood today! Today is the feast of Corpus Christi, one of my favorite feast days of the year. I am in such a good mood that I am going to give out some money. I have a stack of bills here - $ 20, $ 50, and $ 100 bills. Ok, so it’s Monopoly money, but it’s still money! You can still use it as money, right? It looks like money and feels like money. You can take it down to the mall or the grocery store and use it to buy what you need, right? No? So, what you’re telling me is that this money is not real, and is worthless in the real world.

Does anyone know why I would talk about Monopoly money on the feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ? It’s because many people – even many Catholics – say that the Eucharist is just Monopoly money. They say it’s not real, and it’s a symbol only. Monopoly money represents money only; it is only a symbol of money. But, it’s not real, and is worthless in the real world. If the Eucharist is only a symbol of the body and blood of Christ, then it’s not real and worthless in the real world.

To those who say that the Eucharist is only a symbol, I ask this: where in the Bible is this taught? Does Jesus teach that the Eucharist is only a representation of his Body and Blood? No! In fact, he teaches the opposite. In John 6, Christ says over and over again that this teaching is for real: “the bread I will give is my flesh for the life of the world…whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life…unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life within you…my flesh is real food, my blood is real drink…whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood will live forever”.

Now, the people who heard this discourse heard him literally. How do we know? Because they said, “this is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” And, they left Jesus. They had been following him every day; they had seen his miracles and healings, heard his teachings, and witnessed his cures. But, they left him over the Eucharist. And, this is a big point, he didn’t stop them! He didn’t say, ‘hey, you all misunderstood me. I wasn’t speaking literally’. He didn’t do that because he WAS speaking literally! Jesus taught about the Eucharist in John 6, and then instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper, as St Paul reminds us in today’s second reading.

The Apostles and disciples took him literally also, and centered their lives on the Eucharist (Acts 2:42). The early Church began to develop a theology of the Eucharist, actually naming it the Eucharist (which means ‘thanksgiving’)around 100 AD. Throughout the history of the Catholic Church is the strong and unwavering teaching that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ under the signs of bread and wine.

I have experienced a daily encounter with Christ in the Eucharist for the past 15 years, thanks be to God. It is really Him! Many of the kids from our school have come to Adoration on Friday nights, where we bring the Eucharist out of the tabernacle onto the altar. Ask the 3rd graders who were here- they’ll tell you they had a real experience of the presence of Jesus, especially when I processed the Eucharist through the Church. Each one of you is invited to experience the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist – certainly in this and every Mass -but, every Friday night here in the Church from 7-8 pm for Adoration… it’s really Him.

Just before Holy Communion at every Mass, I give the invitation for ‘all faithful Catholics come receive our Lord’. I say this, mainly because of what St Paul writes in the few lines after what we hear in the second reading. He says that whoever receives the Eucharist unworthily “brings judgement on himself”. I don’t want anyone receiving unworthily and bringing judgement on himself. That is serious business! To receive worthily means to be in a state of Grace. If we have stepped out of Grace through mortal sin, we can’t receive the Eucharist until we’ve gone to Confession. It itself is a mortal sin to receive the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin. I know we worry about what people will think if we don’t receive, but we should be primarily focused on what He thinks. Above anything else, we should respect the Eucharist! It is out of love for Him and for you that I say what I say before Holy Communion.

I preach on the Eucharist so much because it is the love of my life. It is the greatest treasure on Earth! I have experienced so much joy and peace from the Eucharist, and I want to pass that on to you. It’s like what Jesus says in John 15:11: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete”.


At 9:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your life / priesthood is an example to all of us of the strength of Our Lord in the Eucharist. Thank you for such a wonderful homily!

Sherry G.

At 11:45 AM, Anonymous HSPrincess said...

i was wondering... i know that you cannot throw away any part of the communion; that's why you 'clean up' so carefully. But what about the white cloths you use to clean the chalice and all? Do they have to be cleaned a special way?


At 7:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talking about the kids at Adoration put a smile on my face- thanks for reminding me of that. I haven't said this before, but FG's committment to all the Eucharist is and its meaning in his life has definately changed my life in a really significant way. His exuberance in talking about the Eucharist inspired me to "look into" what he was so animated about, and that action truly changed me. I'm so grateful that it's beyond words.

At 10:58 PM, Blogger fran said...

Anon 7:29
I am appreciative of your post, as I have been thinking for a good part of the day, about how I would convey my thoughts regarding Fr. Greg's devotion to and love of the Eucharist and how it has affected me. I still don't know how to phrase it exactly, but here goes...
I believe in the real presence, but from the first time I heard Fr. Greg say "This is my Body...This is my Blood," I actually feel, physically, the real presence. It is life changing, and something I have never experienced before. I too am so very grateful.

At 12:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I keep a little memory book for each of my kids. At different times during the year, and always at the end of a school year, I write some notes about what was happening that was significant. The number of times I wrote about the things both FG and FM did with the kids during the school year stood out to me when writing the end of the year commentary. From baby doll baptisms to watching FG get competetive with the kids at recess to the great fun at the DC Hood games to the very special Adorations with the kids to watching FM console a little girl today who wanted her mom- all these experiences (and many more) have warmed my heart. We really are blessed to have priests at SAA who are so committed to us and our relationships with Christ. We are especially fortunate to have two priests, each with their own unique style, who are so dedicated to bringing the message that Christ IS really here and present for us to our children. I know they get it, and to this mom- that's huge.

At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete”

Joy has been the thing I've been looking for this past year. Not the fleeting kind of joy that comes from something in the moment, but something more. I didn't know what that was or where to begin to look for it, until this past fall. In fact, it wasn't until recently (and strangely something kind of unpleasant brought it up) that I started to put things together. I knew I was "drawn" to the church, but didn't quite know why. I knew I felt a sense of peace during Mass and Adoration. Additionally, sometimes in Adoration, I experienced a sense that I needed to "do" something, and I didn't understand what was happening, and therefore created a little anxiety for myself. Anyway, some things recently started to make sense to me. Previously, I had this idea that joy was this big, bubbling thing that had to absolutely effervesce and overflow in me. But maybe not- maybe joy really is (at least in part) that sense of calm and peace. That is the VERY thing the Eucharist brings to me. After several days of not receiving, things in my life don't seem as right. I've decided to accept that fact and stop questioning it, and, most importantly, experience the joy in it.

At 12:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At mass this weekend diffetent church then Saint Andrew's.The Priest said dont worry about anything come to the Eucharist no matter what then go to confession. I told my kids Fr. Greg says the oppisite I have to say I think Fr. Greg is right. I was surprised to hear what this Priest said he tends to be on the charsmatic side. Thank God for Priests like Fr. Greg!!!

At 12:03 AM, Anonymous kelly said...


I can very much relate to actually feeling, in a physical way, the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. For years and still when I approach the priest administering The Holy Eucharist, I actually feel (hard to describe) a physical warmth, a calming presence drawing me forth, and it sort of washes over me. It took me a long time to ask close Catholic friends and family if they experienced it as well. They all just kind of looked quizically at me.

It was nice to read about your experience and I struggle to phrase my experience as well.

God is so good.


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