Blessed Sacrament Parish
Homily by Deacon Terry Ellerman
June 22, 2014 The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)
10 AM Service
Reading 1 Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14B-16A
Moses said to the people:
"Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God,
has directed all your journeying in the desert,
so as to test you by affliction
and find out whether or not it was your intention
to keep his commandments.
He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger,
and then fed you with manna,
a food unknown to you and your fathers,
in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live,
but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.
"Do not forget the LORD, your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt,
that place of slavery;
who guided you through the vast and terrible desert
with its saraph serpents and scorpions,
its parched and waterless ground;
who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock
and fed you in the desert with manna,
a food unknown to your fathers."
Responsorial Psalm 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20
Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion.
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;
he has blessed your children within you.
He has granted peace in your borders;
with the best of wheat he fills you.
He sends forth his command to the earth;
swiftly runs his word!
He has proclaimed his word to Jacob,
his statutes and his ordinances to Israel.
He has not done thus for any other nation;
his ordinances he has not made known to them. Alleluia.
Reading 2 1 Corinthians 10:16-17
Brothers and sisters:
The cup of blessing that we bless,
is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?
The bread that we break,
is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
Because the loaf of bread is one,
we, though many, are one body,
for we all partake of the one loaf.
Gospel John 6:51-58
Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world."
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
"How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
Jesus said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever."
When we hear the words “Body of Christ,” what do we think about? Do we think about the Eucharist? When we come up to take communion the minister says, “The Body of Christ. The Blood of Christ.” When he says, “Body of Christ” do we think about the fact that we are a member of the Body of Christ? That we as a community, not only here but all over the world, make up the Body of Christ. We make up the Body of Christ because we were baptized at that baptismal font, we died and rose with Christ, we were marked by the sign of the cross, we are a disciple of Christ.
We are in him, and he is in us. We are one.
In the first reading today from the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses is very clear to the Israelites and says, “God is always taking care of you. He brought you out of slavery, and for forty days you were tested, but when you were hungry — what happened? God gave you food. He gave you manna. And when you were thirsty, what did God do? He struck the rock and the water came from the flint rock. He always took care of us. So we can trust in him because we know he is with us.”
Then in our second reading from St. Paul to the Corinthians, Paul says to the Christian community, “If you eat and drink of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ you will become one, not only with God, but with each other.” It goes back again to the whole notion of we, being the Body of Christ. It is this Eucharist that binds us. It is the celebration that brings us together, to worship him and to realize that we are part of who he is.
Then in our Gospel Reading today Jesus said, “If you want eternal life then you will eat of my body and drink my blood and if you do that — you will have eternal life.” Not like the Israelites who were given manna, which sustained them, because the manna did not give them eternal life. But rather “I will give you eternal life and on the last day I will raise you up.”
God so loves us that he always takes care of us. “He always meets our needs,” as Father Mike said to the kids. We do the best we can. Then we need to leave the rest to God because he will always take care of our needs.
In the Old Testament God worked through the prophets to give them what they needed and to tell them what to do. But when Jesus came to the earth, he not only came to redeem us and to give us salvation — but he also came to show us how to live and how to love.
All of us experience concern when someone leaves home. And what do we do? We make sure that person has everything her or she needs because we love that person. That is what Jesus did for us. At the Last Supper he instituted the Eucharist so that even though he may be gone, physically he will be with us, and in us, in the Eucharist. That is the gift of the Eucharist — the gift of his body and blood — us becoming one with him, him becoming one with us, and us being united together.
He also washed feet on that same evening to tell us that as the Body of Christ we need to look out for each other and take care of each other.
Then, before he left, he said, “I am not going to leave you orphans. I am going to ask the Father to send the Spirit to you, the advocate, to be with you, to be with his church, and to help us to live.
We come every weekend. Why? Why do we come to church? We can pray at home, can’t we? And hopefully we do. But we come to church to worship as the Body of Christ. We come to worship as a community of believers. We may come in the door as an individual, or as a couple, or as a family but when we are here — we are all a family.
We come here to sing, and to pray, and to worship God. We do that together, we do that in unity. We also come here every week because our world isn’t easy, is it? We all have problems here and there, bumps in the road. We come here to thank God, but we also come here to ask God to help us during the week. We come here to listen to the word, to listen to what Jesus tells us so we will know how to live.
We then come to the table, individually, but also as a community. People from the community bring the bread and the wine to the altar. Why? Because that is the offering that we as a community bring for Father Mike, as priest, to offer to God. And Father Mike then calls down the Holy Spirit on that bread and wine to change it into the real body, and the real blood, of Jesus Christ.
Jesus gives us all that he is every time we receive. Every time we receive, not only does Christ give it to us so we can be close to him, but also so we can be close to one another.
We find God in the Word, we find him in the Eucharist, and we find him in the body of Christ. We find him in this community. We look around to each other. We are here to serve each other and to meet each other’s needs.
The challenge this morning is that when we come to communion today, it is easy to be repetitious and to do the same thing and not really receive the gift we have been given. And the gift we have when the minister says, “The Body and the Blood of Christ” is that we are actually receiving Christ into us to feed us, to nurture us, to help us during this next week. And Christ does this out of love.
As a community we need to pay attention to one another. It is easy to come into church and to pray and not realize who is beside us, or who is behind us, or in front of us.
Who truly makes up the Body of Christ in this church this morning? Do we know everyone here? Probably not. I don’t know everyone. But it is our goal to get to know each other. So during the Peace today, you might look beside you, and behind you, and in front of you and if you don’t know that person it would be a good thing to say, “Hi.”
I’m Terry Ellerman. Please tell me who you are.”
And before you leave Mass today, before you leave those doors, why don’t you make it a point to go up to someone you don’t know and to introduce yourself — for you to welcome them, and for them to welcome you. Because we are the Body of Christ.
And to be an effective a Body of Christ, we need to know each other and to serve each other.
So what does it mean when we say, “the Body of Christ?”
You’re right, it means the Eucharist.
But it also means that each and everyone of us who come here to worship God, and to praise him, and thank him — will receive the nourishment we need for ourselves — as well as for each other.
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Terry Ellerman is a retired educator and serves as a deacon at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Quincy, Illinois.