Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


Corpus Christi Sunday
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
June 2nd, 2013
Year C

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi – the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ – dates back as far as the thirteenth century. It was first established in the Diocese of Liege and in 1264 Pope Urban IV expanded it for the entire Church. The meaning of this feast is to foster devotion and reverence for the True Presence of Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in the Holy Eucharist in which Jesus fulfills His promise to be with us until the end of time. This Feast day affords us the opportunity to reflect more deeply on the mystery of the Holy Eucharist.

Our first reading tells us about Melchizedek, the King of Salem – whose name means righteousness and Salem, meaning peace. He has, as the Letter to Hebrews informs us, no father or mother, no genealogy, no beginning and no end. This eternal figure encounters Abraham and offers gifts of bread and wine. Here, we are given a glimpse of things to come. Melchizedek is a type – or a foreshadowing – of Christ who also, as the Eternal Son of God, has no beginning and no end. Christ offers bread and wine at the Last Supper, the memorial of His Body and Blood shed for us on the cross. 

This passage of the Book of Genesis is just one of the many manifestations in the Old Testament of Christ, the Eucharistic sacrifice and His desire for communion with us – His desire that we become one with Him.  Yet, for communion with God to take place we have to do our part. The Gospel lends us insight into how we can enter communion with God. After the disciples suggest that Jesus dismiss the crowd in order that they may go buy food, He tells them: “give them some food yourselves.” You give them food. The action of giving and being gift is important in our understanding of the Eucharist. Firstly, it is in the Eucharist that Jesus totally, freely and completely gives Himself to us as food – spiritual food; food for the journey. Secondly, in an act of imitation of Christ, we too are required to give of ourselves. This is the command He gives them: “you give…” In this miracle of the loaves and fish, Jesus takes what they have and feeds the hungry crowd. He does not take one loaf or one fish but rather He takes it all. Jesus takes what little they bring, everything, that they bring to Him and He fulfills their need. He satisfies their hunger.

This is precisely what occurs in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The bread and wine we offer to the Lord is symbolic of our own hunger – our hunger for God. Just like in the gospel, in this act of sacrifice, Jesus takes what little we bring, however insignificant it may seem, and He transforms it. Jesus takes everything about who we are, everything that ails us and He gives back to us Himself. It is true, we bring a lot to Jesus. We come here with the problems of everyday life, with physical infirmities, with emotional distress, with people our hearts that are in need of God’s help, His love, and consolation. We bring to Him our strengths, gifts, talents, joys, sorrows, sins and weaknesses. People often ask me: “Father, how do I get through this?” “How do I deal with this person?” My answer may not seem sufficient but today’s feast and the gospel testify that the Eucharist is the answer. The Eucharist satisfies the spiritual hunger that we have for God. Jesus takes it all – not one thing, or part of a problem – He takes it all and gives us Himself. This is what it means to give of ourselves to Jesus. This is what fosters real communion with God. He invites us, just as He did the disciples, to be a gift, to open up our hearts and offer ourselves to Him. We must remember, though, that being gift to Jesus does not mean that any pain we bring to Him will magically vanish. Being a gift to Jesus necessarily involves death – a death to self – it involves suffering. Yet, as always, with suffering, with death, there is always a resurrection, there is life – and this life is found in the Eucharist.

The key to understanding the Eucharist in this way is faith and trust. Jesus teaches His disciples in the miracle of the loaves and fish and He teaches us in the miracle of the Eucharist, to trust Him. Whenever we are met with difficulty, trust Him. Whenever we are faced with trials, trust Him. Even if it may seem that what we bring to Him is inadequate. We may even think that our faith is lacking, that it is not strong. He will supply what is lacking. As Pope Francis so beautifully noted in his homily on Corpus Christi Thursday evening:

“God is near us, in the sacrifice of the cross he stoops to enter into the darkness of death to give us his life, defeating evil, selfishness and death. Jesus also this evening gives himself to us in the Eucharist, he shares our same journey, indeed, he makes himself food, the real food that sustains our lives even in times when the road becomes tough, the obstacles slow our steps. And in the Eucharist, the Lord makes us travel his path, that of service, of sharing, of gift, and what little we have, what little we are, if shared, becomes wealth, because the power of God, which is that of love, descends into our poverty to transform it.”

Jesus invites us today to be a gift – to give ourselves to Him in order to be fed by Him. Yet, we must not be afraid. May the grace of this Holy Eucharist strengthen and increase our faith and trust in Him in order that we may be able to give everything to Him. This gift to Jesus brings with it resurrection, life and communion with our Savior.











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.



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