Homily – Corpus Christi MMXII 6/10/12
A couple week’s ago, I called up this long time friend of mine, a woman about my age, who’s married with several children, to talk to her about something.
At the beginning of the phone conversation, she mentioned in passing that one of her daughters was going to be graduating from high school the next day.
We went on to talk about the thing I had called up about, and were talking for a minute or two, when all of a sudden she starts screaming and shouting for joy, saying “Oh, I can’t believe it!”
What was going on at the other end of the phone was that her oldest daughter, who was away at college in the Midwest, and who everybody thought wasn’t going to be able to make the graduation, had just walked through the door and said “Surprise! It’s me!”
My friend’s husband, without anyone knowing it, had secretly purchased her an airline flight, and then he had snuck down to the airport to pick her up and take her home.
The younger sister who was graduating the next day was so happy to see her older sister that she started crying tears of joy when she walked into the house.
Had this older sister not made it to the graduation, everyone would have totally understood, given the long distance, and upcoming final exams, and the cost for flying back.
It would have been enough had that older sister just sent a card and gift, with a nice letter wishing her younger sister well; or called her up on the phone, or better yet, skyped her on graduation day; then her younger sister would have been happy and grateful that she was there in spirit on her special day.
But that her older sister was able to be physically present for the graduation was the greatest gift she could ask for, a thousand times better than all those other ways she could have been present, as good as those other ways were.
And this is what the Eucharist is. Jesus is as present to us in the Blessed Sacrament as that older sister was present to her sister at her graduation.
Its wonderful enough that Jesus keeps in contact with us and is present to us through the love letters he sends to us from Heaven, the Holy Scriptures; that by daily reading the Scriptures we can hear the Living, Risen Jesus lovingly speaking to us.
Its wonderful that when two or three of us gather in Jesus’ name to pray, we experience Jesus’ presence in our midst.
It’s wonderful that when we reach out to help the poor and sick and helpless, that we encounter the crucified Jesus’ mysterious presence in them.
Finally it’s even more wonderful that Jesus is always with us in Spirit, that His Holy Spirit has been poured into our hearts by virtue of our baptism and confirmation.
But as wonderful as all those things are, they pale in comparison to Jesus’ Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist.
When the priest takes the bread and wine and says “This is my Body . . . . This is my Blood,” it is as if the Risen Lord Jesus has walked into this room from His home in Heaven and says to us “Surprise! It’s me!”
“I’ve come because I wanted to be with you today, to share all the joys and sorrows your going through at this time with you in Person. I am with you, Really Present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in this Most Blessed Sacrament.”
“You can find me here 24/7 abiding in this tabernacle at St. Joseph’s and in all tabernacles in Catholic Churches throughout the world, until the end of time.”
My brothers and sisters in Christ, my good friend screamed for joy when she saw her beloved daughter walk into the room that day. Her daughter’s younger sister wept tears of joy that she had come all that way to be physically present to her.
May those be our sentiments every time we go to Mass and the consecration bell rings, every time we enter a church and kneel before the tabernacle, every time we pass by a catholic church when driving somewhere, and especially every time we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, – may we be filled with joy that He is here with us, truly present, as we journey through this life to eternal life.