ON THIS SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST, also known in the Latin as Corpus Christi Sunday, we are reminded of the Awesome Gift we celebrate that is the Eucharist – THE Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The Eucharist is not a “symbol” of Christ’s Body and Blood, the Eucharist is not a “representation” of Christ’s Body and Blood, the Eucharist is not a “reasonable facsimile” of Christ’s Body and Blood – the Eucharist IS Christ’s Sacred Body and Blood. This Solemnity also reminds us to respect this Sacred Gift, to reverence this Gift. When we come into Church, we genuflect to pay respect to the Divine Presence and to remind us that we are before the Lord. When we are about to receive communion we stop and reflect on what it is that we are about to do. The reception of communion is sacred. It is wrong for us to use this as a time to socialize; this is the time to focus on what we are about to do. Just before receiving communion we bow. That is a statement of faith, just as saying Amen is a statement of faith. We are taking Jesus within ourselves. After receiving communion we pray to the Lord of the Universe within us. “But Father, why all this emphasis on the Eucharist? All this Eucharist talk is not very ecumenical, you know. Christians of other faiths might be offended if we keep speaking about the Eucharist. And Father, you have to admit it, many Catholics themselves don’t see a value in weekly reception of communion. Many are more concerned with being signed with ashes at the beginning of Lent then with receiving communion. Don’t you think that you should really tone it down?” That is exactly what the disciples said to Jesus at the conclusion of the Great Discourse on the Eucharist in the sixth chapter of John. He said, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.” Jesus refused to hedge on this truth. The disciples said, “This teaching is too difficult. People are leaving us.” Jesus responded, And are you going too?” Peter’s answer to this is our statement of faith: “Where are we to go, Lord? You have the words of eternal life.” The beliefs of others of different Christian denominations are to be respected. The beliefs of those who do not acknowledge Christ are to be respected. But we are not respecting others if we hedge on our own faith. In fact, if we hedge on our faith, particularly our faith in the Eucharist, we are insulting others. We are saying, “I don’t think you have enough character to respect for my faith, so I’ll tone it down for you.” No, folks, let’s be who we are. We are Catholics. And let’s exalt in that which makes us uniquely Catholic, the Great, Awesome Gift of the Eucharist. We might acquaint ourselves with what Pope Francis shared with us on the Eucharist in his Encyclical Lumen Fidei:
The sacramental character of faith finds its highest expression in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is a precious nourishment for faith: an encounter with Christ truly present in the supreme act of His love, the life-giving gift of Himself. In the Eucharist we find the intersection of faith’s two dimensions. On the one hand, there is the dimension of history: the Eucharist is an act of remembrance, a making present of the mystery in which the past, as an event of death and resurrection, demonstrates its ability to open up a future, to foreshadow ultimate fulfilment. The liturgy reminds us of this by its repetition of the word “hodie,” the “today” of the mysteries of salvation. On the other hand, we also find the dimension which leads from the visible world to the invisible. In the Eucharist we learn to see the heights and depths of reality. The bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ, Who becomes present in His passover to the Father: this movement draws us, body and soul, into the movement of all creation towards its fulfilment in God. (Lumen Fidei, 44)
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ reminds us of who we are as Catholic Christians, Who is present in the tabernacles of our Catholic churches, and what we are doing when we receive the Eucharist as we come into physical communion with the Sacred Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
HEALTH UPDATE ON FR. LUMPE: As you know Father Lumpe had colon cancer surgery on June 17 this past week. His surgery was successful, and he is recovering in the hospital and getting the rest and special nourishment he needs following surgery. Right now visitors are limited to immediate family and clergy; no plants or flowers are permitted in this area of the hospital. As of this writing pathology tests were not yet available to verify pre-surgery tests that the cancer had not spread to any other part of his body. Fr. Lumpe sends his prayers of appreciation and thanks to all of you for your prayers of support during this time. We will keep you posted.