Deacon Lyn's Homily on the
Solemnity of The Body and Blood of Christ - 2018
It has been about one week since a resident at Hennis in Bolivar died. He was not from our parish, but he was from a local parish. When I first meet him I was with my dad who was also staying at Hennis at the time. He knew my dad’s brothers who was older than my dad. All of this man’s brothers and sister’s died early in life and so he took on the responsibility of a parental role for all of his nieces and nephews. He became a well-liked person at Hennis because of his friendly demeanor to all he met. He befriended one of the residents at Hennis who like himself had to use an electric wheelchair to get around. They became friends & they once left the facility together without permission & was found on the new Towpath Trail in their wheelchairs. He also got this man who was Catholic to come to the Monthly Mass we have there. One Sunday when I was taking Holy Communion to Hennis I went to see him & I could tell he was distraught. I asked him, “What was the matter?” He told me that his wheelchair buddy had died this morning. We prayed together to God that he would be merciful to him. Other time he shared with me that he prayed the Rosary daily and he dedicated each one of the five mysteries of the rosary to his family. The first for his wife, the next four to each one of his four children and their families. After he shared this with me I changed my daily rosary to reflect this same pattern of my wife and four children. It hurt to see him die. I miss his presence there. I have collectibles from him in my daily rosary that he shared. Somehow, this communicates his presence to me. But as l pray for him and my dad, my mind is also on what life will mean for me after my mom is gone. There must be something that is deeper than the things I keep in their memory and deeper than touching them in real life, maybe Devine Presence. I have not been able to describe this as yet, but perhaps those of you who know what I am talking about can help me. Today we celebrate the feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus. And really the focus is on presence – Divine presence among us. But just as human presence, the readings take us to the different levels of divine presence. I want to reflect on these levels of presence and invite you to deeper levels of Christ’s presence.
In today’s first reading we encounter the first level of divine presence. Moses held the words of the covenant, offered a blood sacrifice and sprinkled the blood upon the people as a sign of the covenant. In none of these actions, did the people experience real presence. The people heard God through Moses. They offered a sacrifice of animals. They sprinkled the blood of animals to seal a covenant. That is how deep they could do in their relationship with the Divine. The second reading from Hebrews tells us about a deeper level of presence – God comes to us in and through Christ. Christ became the altar, Christ became the sacrificial victim, and Christ became the priest. But this altar, this victim and this priest is unlike the altar, animals, and priest of today’s first reading. People touched the real person of Christ. People could look into Christ’s eyes. They could laugh and cry with him. They could touch him. They could even crucify him. The third level originates with Jesus’ own action at the last supper. Jesus, just before he died, gathered his disciples, broke the bread, gave the cup and said to them “This is my body; this is my blood of the covenant.” This is a new kind of presence that human beings were thus far not familiar with. In this third level, Christ is no more just with the person, but rather, Christ is in the person. There is a fourth level. As we receive the body of blood of Jesus, we must keep in mind that one day, even this presence will end. When our lives end or when the world ends, there will be no more Eucharist for us. So there must be something even deeper than the real presence of the Eucharist. To be able to peek into this deep, deep, level of God’s presence is to enter into the very life of God.
Let me offer three practical implications:
1) Many Catholics around the world are content to remain on the superficial level of the Divine presence. But we are invited today to enter into the deeper levels of divine presence. Receiving Christ in body and blood is like marriage – we enter into a deep, intimate, and everlasting bond. Christ lives in us and we live in Christ through body and blood. On earth this is the deepest expression of God’s presence. Today, when we receive the body and blood of Christ let us enter into deep communion with our God.
2) For a moment, I want also focus on what Christ did at the last supper. He took bread and wine said, “This is me, for you.” And then he broke and bread and then he shed the blood. For me personally, Jesus’ self-gift and the implications of that gift is the most compelling part of this feast. To be able to give oneself in total surrender becomes the model for our own relationship with each other. If we could break ourselves and spend ourselves for our families like Christ does; if we could build friendship on Christ-like self-giving; if we could base our church Christ’s sacrifice – the entire world would become alive with divine presence.
3) As I said earlier, when this world passes away, there will be no more Eucharist on the earth. On the earth, the Eucharist is the most real divine presence. But today, I would like to encourage you to enter in the level of divine presence which is even deeper than the real presence – God’s presence in all God’s glory and love. Spend time this week in prayer and seek to get a glimpse of the glory of God’s eternal presence.
In a very few moments from now, Christ will come to us in bread and wine. As we receive Christ, as we say “Amen” let us enter into the divine presence in the deepest way possible. Let our Amen reflect our total surrender to the divine presence. May it express our presence to God, heart, soul and mind. Amen!