Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


"Jesus Himself Becomes the Lamb of Sacrifice"
Homily for Corpus Christi Sunday
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
June 10th, 2012
Year B


A few years ago, an organization known as Pew Forum did a study that polled religiosity in America. The study found that 24% of Americans profess to be Catholic. More recently, a Gallup poll was taken on Catholic belief in the Holy Eucharist. Quite shockingly, only 30% of Catholics actually believe that the bread and wine, after the words of consecration, are changed into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. A belief that is consistent with Catholic teaching, history and tradition. The study went on to note that 29% percent of Catholics believe that the Eucharist is a mere symbol, 23% believe that due to their own personal belief – not based on Catholic teaching or tradition – they are receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, and 10% understand that their action of receiving is bread and wine in which Jesus is somehow present.

These numbers ought to shock us. Certainly, however, they are so because we do not have a clear understanding of Jesus’ own words and actions during the Last Supper. St. Mark tells us that Jesus gathered with His disciples for the Feast of Passover. The meal would have had all the traditional elements: blessing by the head of the household, the ceremonial foods, the retelling of the exodus and the singing of hymns. Jesus takes this a step further with the words: “Take it, this is my body…this is my blood.” These words are prophetic as they anticipate Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary. No mention is given of the lamb for the sacrifice because Jesus Himself becomes the Lamb of Sacrifice.
There are two specific elements of the event of the Last Supper that give evidence for Christ’s True Presence in the Eucharist. The first is found in the words “take” and “body.” The word ‘body’ in Hebrew is not a simple reference to one’s flesh but rather the whole being of a person. By asking the Disciples to ‘take’ this bread and wine, Jesus is inviting them to receive this gift of Himself – to partake of this divine mystery into their very selves, into the depths of their own being. The second element is the Jewish notion of remembrance or memorial. In the Jewish tradition, remembrance or memorial, is not a simple recalling but an actual participation in past events, as if one was present for them in their occurrence.

This is what has been passed on to us in our own act of worship. Our understanding of the Eucharist is born from Jesus’ sacred words and actions at the Last Supper. We gather in our own “upper room” of the church, we receive the blessing from the priest (who stands in Christ’s stead), the food for the ritual – bread and wine – is prepared, we sing hymns throughout the celebration and lastly, the story of Christ’s sacrifice is re-presented – made present to us. Here, in this celebration of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, we are drawn back to those events surrounding His sacrifice. We do not simply remember it but we participate in that sacrifice by our presence and our belief. Here, Jesus invites us to partake of His Body and Blood, to receive this divine gift into the very depths of our being. He invites us to become one with Him in and through the mystery of the Holy Eucharist.

If this is precisely the meaning behind these sacred actions in the Sacrifice of the Mass then we ought to reflect on our own attitudes with regard to the Holy Eucharist. We could ask ourselves in which bracket of percentage of Catholics do we fall? Are we among the minority who actually believe in the tradition and teaching of the Church that this Sacrifice of the Mass makes present to us the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ? Or do we fall into a more Protestant notion of a symbolic presence? Or do we believe it at all? In a recent article, Archbishop Michael Sheehan, of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, makes note of the fact that such disbelief in the source and summit of our Catholic faith is due to a lack of respect and reverence among general population of Catholics in our churches today. He notes that the simplification of the rites of the Mass, reception of Holy Communion on the hand or the tongue, standing or kneeling while receiving, has trivialized and eroded our respect and belief in the Holy Eucharist. In his article, he calls on Catholics in his diocese to stop referring to the Eucharist as “the bread” or “the wine” but rather say “the Body of Christ” and “the Blood of Christ.” We should also be aware of how we reverence the presence of Christ behind the doors of the Tabernacle. A proper genuflection – which is a bend of the right knee to the floor – or a profound bow from the waist, signifies that we are aware that Christ is present in this sacred space. Using these terms and gestures in our language of faith will help enhance our belief, respect and reverence for Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. Furthermore, an act of repentance – particularly by going to confession if we know that we are in need of God’s mercy – before receiving Holy Communion also is a great testimony to our belief that Christ is truly present under the form of bread and wine. Let us be numbered among those faithful followers who stand with Christ and His Church and say, along with Moses and ancient Hebrew people: “All that the Lord has said, we will heed and do.”








Fr. Jon Reardon


Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.




See other homilies of Fr. Jon Reardon...
Return to multimedia home...


SCTJM logo
Return to main page