Corpus Christi

June 18, 2017

Father Shawn Hughes

 

Disclaimer:

Homilies are never the creative act of one person.  So as we begin to post these homilies on our website I would like to state first and foremost that there will be nothing original in the following. My homilies are a result of my prayer, reading and study as it pertains to the particular gospel of the week.  Thus, I beg, borrow and steal from the wisdom of those who have gone before me and together with the Holy Spirit acting in my own prayer considering the needs of our particular parish community here at St. Mary’s, a homily appears by the weekend. If there is something that edifies you I can take no credit for it.  ‘Tis the result of the work of the Holy Spirit and those from whom I have gleaned wisdom over time.  If there is something that you might wish to discuss I am always available and would welcome any opportunity to speak about the Scriptures.  

God bless you.

Father Shawn

 

 

I would like to share with you one of the most beautiful stories about the Eucharist that I have ever heard.

 

I was out for dinner with one of my brother priests recently and he was telling the beautiful account of one of his parishioner’s last few days.  The man in his late 80’s had lived a deeply devoted life, but in his last year or so, with the rigours of age and some dementia, wasn’t always clear about what was taking place.  Often while receiving Holy Communion he could not find the word ‘Amen’ to respond to Father’s:  “The Body of Christ.”  In the last couple of days, Father took him Holy Communion for the last time As Father held up the Sacred Host and said “The Body of Christ,” his parishioner, who at times could not even remember his own name, looked lovingly at the Blessed Sacrament and immediately responded “Imagine!”  and then reverently received Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and died later that day.

 

Imagine indeed!  We are so privileged that our Lord has so humbled himself as to give Himself to us as spiritual food in Holy Communion: feeding the hunger within us that only God can feed.   A hunger articulated by St. Augustine in his famous quote: “Lord, our hearts are restless, until they rest in Thee.”  (Confessions) A hunger that according to our first reading the Israelites were led into the desert and made to experience to teach them a valuable lesson:  “People do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)  Today’s Scriptures challenge us to seek an authentic relationship with God before anything else so that we will have the wisdom to make correct decisions as well as the grace to generously share all we have of our time, our talents & and our treasure.

 

God provided manna for the Israelites during their wilderness journey, enabling them to survive.  But in the gospel Jesus pointed out that the effects of this manna were temporary – the Israelites grew hungry again and had to continue eating.  In today’s gospel Jesus says he will provide a different kind of nourishment.  The sustenance He offers will last forever.

 

Jesus describes Himself as being sent from the Father, as sharing the very life of the Father.  He is fully God and fully man.  To the people of his time these were remarkable claims.  But even more remarkable is His claim in today’s gospel that he will give his own flesh as our food, so that we might share in His divine life.  In the Eucharist we have the life of God within us.  These claims caused his listeners to argue amongst themselves.  “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”  (John 6: 52) they asked.  The very next line of today’s gospel states: “After hearing this, many of his followers said, ‘This teaching is difficult.  How could anyone accept it? (John 6: 60)…‘After this, many of his disciples left him and stopped going with him.’ (John 6: 66)

 

This was the perfect opportunity for Christ to say, “Wait a minute, what I really meant was that my body and blood will just be symbolized by bread and wine.”  As many left, it was the perfect opportunity for Jesus to say: ‘Of course I didn’t mean that bread and wine really would become my body and blood.  Don’t be foolish.”  The strange thing is he doesn’t say this when they leave.  He does not water down his claim.  In fact he states again the importance of really eating his flesh and drinking his blood.  Seven times throughout this section of Chapter 6 of John’s gospel, called the Bread of Life Discourse, Jesus repeats that his flesh is to be eaten and his blood is to be drunk by those who wish to have eternal life. Seven times.  Everyone present understood he meant what he said and many of them did not accept it and they left Him.  And He did not call them back and clarify….. in fact, underscoring that He meant exactly what he had said  he turns to those who remained and asked “Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:67b-69)

Those who stayed later, at the Last Supper, understood more deeply what Jesus was saying when He gave us the Sacrament of the Eucharist – his flesh made into our food, his blood made into our drink.  He said:  “This is my body” “This is my blood.” 1 He did not say this is a symbol of my body, this is a symbol of my blood.  He did not say this bread is my body, this wine is my blood. He said:  “This is my body” “This is my blood.”

 

Love gives itself.  It gives itself completely.   It can’t be superficial.  It can’t be symbolic. Love shares its very self completely.  Christ loves to the extreme:  he gives us his own life.  This is what is so beautifully depicted in the image on the front of your bulletins this weekend.  Christ gives us his own life and in doing so he shares with us his own divine existence – as we heard in the gospel: “56Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.” (John 6:56-57) other translations say “whoever eats me will draw life from me.” (NAB)  This is why he gave us Himself in the Eucharist.  It is given so that we can receive His life, divine life.  This is recalled at the Offertory of every Mass, when the priest or deacon is pouring some water into the wine he prays quietly:  “By the mingling of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled Himself to share in our humanity.”

 

This is the meaning of Holy Communion.  It is the sacrament of Love par excellence.  It is a great mystery.  We will never know how it happens.  But we do know that it does happen…. because Jesus has said so AND we know why it happens; he wants us to live forever.

 

In the face of such love the only appropriate response is to humbly accept this precious gift, relish it and give our own love in return…To Him and to our neighbour.  In the face of such love the only response when the priest holds up the Blessed Sacrament and says “Behold the Lamb of God.  Behold Him who takes away the sins of the world…” is to fall to our knees saying:  “Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof.  But only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”  We are not worthy.   I am not worthy. You are not worthy.  No one on this earth is worthy.  But the Word has been spoken and we are healed.  He makes us worthy.

 

The only appropriate response in the face of such love when the priest, the deacon, or extraordinary minister of the Eucharist holds up the Blessed Sacrament and declares “The Body of Christ”…In the face of such love the only appropriate response is an audible “Amen.”  Meaning: Yes, It is so, I believe…Not only that this is so but that I am in communion with all the teachings of the Catholic Church.  St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians chapter 11 that those who receive without discerning the body and blood of Christ bring judgement on themselves.  (1 Corinthians 11: 29)

 

The only appropriate response in the face of such love is to open our lives completely to His Divine Life being given to us and to allow it to transform us.  If we cooperate with this grace this transformation takes place little by little…St. Paul tells that “all of us… are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another…” (2 Cor. 3:18).  All the grace to draw us into the divine life is given to us in the Sacraments, especially in the Eucharist.

 

The only appropriate response in the face of such love is to cooperate with the grace we receive in Holy Communion so that we become more and more like him, in self sacrificial service to those around us, by the lived witness of our lives.

 

Today we pray, “O Lord, open my eyes so that I will see you as you truly are in this mysterious sacrament and know the depth of Your love for me in giving yourself in the humble form of bread and wine.”

 

Today on this feast of the Body and Blood of our Lord:  in adoration, in awe, in love…we contemplate the unimaginable depth of the love the Lord has for us in giving Himself to us in the Eucharist.  He said he would be with us always ‘til the end of the age. (Matthew 28:16) It is in the sacraments that this presence with us becomes real…the divine life of God poured into us in the sacraments worthily received.  Imagine!!!

 

 

 

Endnotes:

  1. 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26; Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22: 14-20

 

 

 

 

 



The Chief medical Health Officer of Kingston has ordered that Masks must be worn at all places we gather indoors. That includes us here at the cathedral. We can’t supply everyone with a mask so please come with one. We would have a limited supply available for a loonie at the entrance of the cathedral.
Please read and observe the six key principles outlined below.

1) The key principle is that we come to Mass to worship God. Out of justice and exercising the virtue of religion we must give God what is God’s due. That quite simply is worship, adoration and praise. Thus, the absolute essentials of Mass will be included so that the Sacramental praise of God will take place and we will be exposed to one another for as brief a time as possible.

2) The second key principle is that the health and safety of parishioners, staff and clergy here at St. Mary’s are essential and require our utmost concern and attention. Therefore, the dispensation from the obligation to come to Sunday Mass by Archbishop Mulhall continues to be in effect. Those who are sick, elderly or have other critical health concerns should not come at this time. However, that is left to your discretion. Should you make the choice to come, knowing the risks, you are most welcome.

3) The underlying principle of all of our restrictions in isolating, physically distancing, wearing masks etc. is the common good as we live out the Lord’s commission to “love one another.” We are to care for each other and at this time we are called to be as prudent and careful as we can to protect the health of everyone else and ourselves.
4) The principle for the next few weeks will be brevity. The received scientific wisdom is that the virus spreads within groups who spend a prolonged period of time together. Therefore, we will be reducing the Mass to the bare essentials.
5) Singing is considered more dangerous than speaking so you are asked to please not sing at all throughout the Mass. I will not be singing either.
6) If you have any sickness, are elderly or have a critical illness you should remain at home. The dispensation from the obligation to come to Mass continues through this time of 30% capacity. Of course, if you choose to come you will not be turned away. We will continue to live- stream the Masses until we are back to a more normal arrangement.
PROCEDURAL NORMS FOR
THE NEXT FEW WEEKS

The Chief medical Health Officer has ordered that Masks must be worn at all places we gather indoors. That includes us here at the cathedral. We can’t supply everyone with a mask so please come with one. We would have a limited supply available for a loonie at the entrance of the cathedral.
Brevity
We will pray a shorter Penitential Rite.
The Gloria will be said not sung. There is to be no singing by the congregation during the Mass. Only by a cantor or as we have today a physically distanced choir in the choir loft…3 metres apart.
We will only have one reading followed by the Psalm
The second reading will be omitted.
The choir will sing the Alleluia on Sundays. During the week it will be omitted. Please do not join in.
The Gospel.
A very brief (3-4 minute) homily will follow.
The Creed will not be prayed.
There will be no petitions. Please prepare your own petitions and offer them in your heart during the Mass.
There will be no procession of the gifts.
There will be no regular collections at this time in the Masses. It will happen later. Ushers will be at the doors to receive your offering as you leave.
The Eucharistic Prayer will be prayed. This is the Most Important Part of the Mass.
The Our Father
Sign of Peace. This is a time when we won’t shake hands. Please do not wave to each other or give the two finger sign of peace. Neither of these reflect what is the intention here…You are recognizing the presence of God in the other person and praying they know God’s peace. The most appropriate gesture is a slight bow or nod of the head to the other person. You have seen me do this at the sign of peace to all of you at every Sunday Liturgy.
Please be seated.
Then the ushers will direct you to the place where you will receive Holy Communion. Please do not leave your pew until an usher has indicated you should do so.
Another usher will be close to the Communion Station to receive your Sunday Offering.
When it is your turn to receive Holy Communion. You will stand 6 feet away on the red line. The person distributing Holy Communion will say “The Body of Christ”. You will say “Amen”. Then move forward within arms length and receive the Host. Once you have received go straight out the nearest exit and make your Thanksgiving on your way home.
Aisles 1 & 5 will come forward to receive Holy Communion and leave by the side doors.
Aisles 2, 3 & 4 will go to the back to receive Holy Communion.
Aisle 2 will exit by the exit closest to the rectory.
Aisle 3 will exit out the centre door which you came in
Aisle 4 will exit out the door by the washrooms.
You are strongly encouraged to receive Holy Communion in the hand. Receiving on the tongue endangers the person giving Holy Communion and yourself, the person receiving Holy Communion. If you wish to insist on receiving on the tongue please wait until the very end as the person giving Holy Communion should sanitize their hands after each communicant. The usher will pass you by and will come back to you after everyone else has received. Please don’t leave your pew until that has taken place.