Sunday, June 18th,
This Sunday is the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.
The Sunday within the Octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi which this year is Thursday, June 15th.
On this feast we adore our uniquely Catholic possession, the Living God among us in the Blessed Sacrament, the greatest of all sacraments.
One of the names by which the prophets of the Old Testament depicted the future Redeemer, is the name Emmanuel, meaning God among us.
And as all their predictions did, this one too became a reality on the first Christmas night in Bethlehem when the eternal God, God the Son, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, truly became one of us: Emmanuel, God among us.
And as amazing as the mystery of of Christ's nativity was, even more incomprehensible is the fact that God's presence among us was not to be limited to the 33 years of His earthly life in Palestine.
Even before His Apostles understood what He was talking about, Our Lord promised them: " I will not leave you like orphans!" A promise He kept when at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday He gave His priests the power to change bread and wine into His own Body and Blood, His own human and Divine Self, ordering them to do so by renewing the Sacrifice of the Cross which He was to offer the following day, Good Friday.
Only Almighty God could have thought of coming to us and staying with us under the appearances of bread and wine multiplying His presence all over the earth for all time.
From that day, the Church of God possessed the Holy Eucharist as the greatest of all the sacraments. And that is why a Roman Catholic Church building is not just a beautiful religious meeting hall, but is the residence of the Living God in the Blessed Sacrament of the Tabernacle.
Our Lord declared on that first Holy Thursday night after taking bread, breaking it and looking up and giving thanks saying: " This is My Body". Then He took the chalice of wine and in a certain, strong solemn voice he declares: " This is My Blood". He tells them to eat and drink and He solemnly commands them; " Do this in commemoration of Me". He has given the Apostles His flesh and blood and He wants them to continue giving His flesh and blood to His followers, not just of those days but of our day as well.
Our Lord told his audience of His day: " Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for that which endures unto life everlasting. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the desert and have died. I am the bread that comes down from Heaven. If anyone eat this bread he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is My flesh for the life of the world."
The Roman Catholic Church takes those words of that first Holy Thursday, "This is My Body ""and This is My Blood," as they stand and takes them literally. It takes them seriously and takes them in their only possible meaning. It takes them as the Apostles and the Christians of the early Church understood them. We Catholics wholeheartedly believe in the real presence of Our Divine Lord in the tabernacles of our churches. Because the Holy Eucharist for us is not just bread and wine symbolizing Christ's body and blood. We believe that anytime those heavenly words "This is My Body, This is My Blood " are repeated at the consecration of the Mass, the living Jesus Christ is present, really, truly and substantially under the appearances of bread and wine. At that moment of Consecration it is no longer the priest who speaks. It is Our Lord Himself Who uses the lips of the priest to say "This is My Body , This is My Blood."
After the Consecration, it shows the great care of the priest who holds his thumb and index finger closed together so he does not touch anything else during the rest of the Mass with those fingers that touched the consecrated Host and Chalice.
It also makes us understand why the Roman Catholic Church has always considered it a grave sin of sacrilege for anyone who is not a priest to touch the consecrated Host or Chalice but for the most exceptional circumstances.
When we Roman Catholics receive true Holy Communion, the Sacred Host which the priest places on our tongue is indeed the living Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, Who was born in the stable of Bethlehem, died for us on the cross of Calvary, rose from the grave on Easter Sunday and ascended into Heaven where He now lives in glory and power, with a place waiting for each one of us to live happily for all time in a world without end. To receive true Holy Communion is the greatest event that can ever happen to us here on earth!
My dear people, our answer to that miracle of God's omnipotence, coming to us and staying with us under the appearances of bread and wine and multiplying His presence all over the earth for all time should be an answer of faith and thanksgiving and love.
That is why on Blessed Sacrament Sunday as this Sunday is also known we go in procession out of the church and proudly display our uniquely Catholic possession for all to see.
On this Blessed Sacrament Sunday, we humbly and gratefully before God, proudly display before the world our greatest unique treasure, Emmanuel, God among us!