CORPUS CHRISTI

Exodus 24. 3 – 8
Responsorial Psalm: 116
Hebrews 9. 11 -15
Gospel: Mark 14. 12 – 16, 22 – 26
Sitting together for a meal can generate a special feeling of togetherness. Each of us will have our
own memories of table companionship or fellowship. Many of these will be happy experiences of
celebration and laughter, of love received and shared. Some memories of table fellowship may be
sad, times when we were more aware of one who was absent than of those who were present.
Jesus shared table many times with his disciples. It is likely that, when sharing food with his
disciples, he also shared with them his vision of God’s kingdom . At table, the disciples imbibed
something of Jesus’ mind and heart and spirit. Of all the meals he shared with them, the meal that
stayed in their memory more than any other was their last meal together, what came to be known
as the last supper. Today’s gospel gives us Mark’s account, his word-picture, of that last supper.
This last meal Jesus shared with his disciples stood out in their memory, capturing the
imagination of generations of disciples right up to ourselves. He did more than share his vision
with the disciples; he gave them himself in a way he had never done before, and in a way that
anticipated the death he would die for them and for all, on the following day. In giving himself in
the form of the bread and wine of the meal, he was declaring himself to be their food and drink.
In calling on them to take and eat, to take and drink, he was asking them to take their stand with
him, to give themselves to him as he was giving himself to them.
It was because of that supper and of what went on there that we are here in this church today.
Jesus intended his last supper to be a beginning rather than an end. It was the first Eucharist. Ever
since that meal, the church has gathered regularly in his name, to do and say what he did and said
at that last supper — taking bread and wine, blessing both, breaking the bread and giving both for
disciples to eat and drink.
On Mount Sinai, Moses presided over the swearing of a sacred covenant between God and the
people of Israel, After explaining the provisions of this covenant, Moses sprinkled the people
with the blood of sacrificed animals, and the people responded by promising to “heed and do”
everything God had commanded (Exodus 24: 7). They have their marching orders, and they
intend to follow them.

The Israelites’ response to Moses is clearly admirable and pleasing to the Lord, but the feast of
the Corpus Christi or Body and Blood of Christ invites us to consider another aspect of our
response to him. We are so used to focusing on “doing,” but at its heart, the mystery of the
Eucharist is focused on “being” more than doing.” Just as the bread and wine become the Body
and Blood of the Lord at Mass, so do we become the Body of Christ when we gather for worship
and receive him in Communion. So when we say “Amen” just before receiving the Eucharist, we
can say in our hearts, “We will be everything the Lord has made us to be.”
This is one of the greatest miracles of our faith. As the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council
taught, “Really partaking of the body of the Lord in the breaking of the Eucharistic bread, we are
taken up into communion with him and with one another” (Lumen Gentium, 7). Communion
with Christ! And that communion, received in faith and founded on grace, changes us. It fills us
with divine love and divine grace. It transforms us so that we become more like Jesus.
Of course, it’s a good thing to do what God is asking us to do. But today is a perfect day to
celebrate who you are becoming. Treasured and redeemed and beloved, you are taking on the
likeness of the very One you are receiving!
From the beginning, the Church has taught that there is a personal presence of Jesus in the
Eucharist – so much so that when we come before the Eucharist, we give him the reverence due
to God. This is a hallmark of our Catholic faith: Jesus becomes present sacramentally –a
mystery still, but really and truly preset. So When I pass before the Tabernacle, I bend my knee
because I know that God is there.
This is why Adoration can provide such a powerful encounter with Jesus. Of course, the most
powerful encounter is to receive him in Communion. But when I come before him in Adoration,
it can also have a profound effect on me. When you ask a young man who went to the seminary
or a young woman who entered the convent about their vocation, almost all of them will say, “It
was really spending time in Adoration with Jesus that allowed me to discern my vocation.”
When I was a young priest, I took some young people in my previous parish back in India for a
Charismatic retreat. One night we had Adoration, and as often happens at these events, there was
one young man who was clearly there only because his parents had made him come. And he was
letting us know in all kinds of ways that he didn’t want to be there.
On Saturday evening before Adoration, I had a simple inspiration. I went up to this young man
and said, “God wants to do something in you tonight.” He was a little taken aback and said,
“What? What do you mean? After the Adoration time, he came up to me with tears in his eyes
and said, “How did you know?” I said, “I know Jesus.” In fact, for the rest of high school, that

young man never missed Charismatic retreat. It changed his life because he had a real encounter
with Jesus through Adoration.
Pope Francis speaks about the power of an encounter with Jesus in his letter on the liturgy: The
Liturgy guarantees for us the possibility of such an encounter. For us a vague memory of the
Last Supper would do no good. We need to be present at that Supper, to be able to hear his
voice, to eat his body and to drink his Blood. We need him. In the Eucharist and in all the
sacraments we are guaranteed the possibility of encountering the Lord Jesus and of having the
power of his Paschal Mystery reach us. The salvific power of the sacrifice of Jesus, his every
word, his every gesture, glance, and feeling reaches us through the celebration of the sacraments.
(Apostolic Letter on the Liturgical Formation of the People of God, 11). It’s very important to
understand this. We might put the question this way: Jesus came to earth, and he suffered and
died for us, but that all happened two thousand years ago. How does that suffering and death and
rising from the dead affect me today? How does that save me today?
It’s because in the Mass, we have the enduring presence of Jesus’ saving sacrifice. At the last
Supper, he said, Do this in memory of me” (Luke 22:19). We have his enduring presence so that
the power of the paschal mystery, which is in the Mass, can reach us and save us now. This is
one of the reasons why Eucharistic revival is so important in today’s world, because people
desperately need this encounter with Jesus. And because of our current culture, it can be very
hard to understand certain aspects of the Catholic faith without it.
God’s Light Shines Brightly. We find this principle active in the world: when the world grows
darker, God’s light shines brighter. When difficult things happen, God begins to work more
miraculously. We see this throughout history.
One of the great examples is the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico in the
sixteenth century, when the Aztec religion involved daily human sacrifice, including the sacrifice
of children. There was really no hope of evangelizing the Aztecs because they had been so
brutally treated by the Spaniards and didn’t want to join the Spanish religion. And so the
Franciscans who had been sent to evangelize were in a terrible spot. The bishop of Mexico City
even wrote a letter to the king of Spain to tell him to call off the Spanish soldiers who were
mistreating the Aztecs. The letter kept getting intercepted but eventually got to the king. In that
letter, the bishop said, “Unless there’s help from heaven, everything is going to be lost.”
There was help from heaven. Six months later, Our Lady appeared and within ten years, nine
million people converted, forever abandoning the practice of human sacrifice. It was the largest
conversion in history, and it was because of the power of God. When the world is struggling

now the most, God’s power acts most clearly. That’s why today, through this time of Eucharistic
revival, we can expect God to act powerfully in people so that they encounter Jesus.
It’s one of the reasons we want to bring Jesus to the streets and process him across the country.
It is one of the reasons we have Nine Days Novena and Pentecost Vigil Services in our churches
in view of the Solemnity of Pentecost to ask the Holy Spirit to come upon us so that we can have
that deep encounter with Jesus and be sent out on a mission. We’re living in a time of crisis
when this encounter is necessary, and I believe it’s one of the reasons that the Lord wants this
Eucharistic Revival.
I read the encyclical letter of Pope Leo XIII called “Wondrous Love” (Mirae Caritatis). Pope
Leo XIII reigned from the end of the nineteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth
century. He wrote this letter in 1902, two years before h died. He had a sense that the enemy,
the devil, was going to have a lot of power in the twentieth century. That’s why, years earlier, he
had asked that the St. Michael Prayer be prayed after every Mass.
As Pope Leo was reaching the end of his life, he said that even though there were many problems
in the world and many things he could focus on, he wanted to focus on the Eucharist. He
believed that if the Church was strengthened in her relationship with the Eucharist, then she’d be
able to stand against the struggles that were coming. He knew then that were coming. He knew
then that we needed to strengthen our love and our devotion for the Eucharist and our
relationship with Jesus – that encounter with him.
Jesus continues to give himself as food and drink to his followers. He also continues to put it up
to his followers to take their stand with him, to take in all he stands for, living by his values,
walking in his way, even if that means the cross. Whenever we come to Mass and receive the
Eucharist, we are making a number of important statements. We are acknowledging Jesus as our
bread of life, as the one who alone can satisfy our deepest hungers. We are also declaring that we
will throw in our lot with him, as it were, that we will follow in his way and be faithful to him all
our lives, in response to his faithfulness to us. In that sense, celebrating the Eucharist is not
something we do lightly. Our familiarity with the Mass and the frequency with which we
celebrate it can dull our senses to the full significance of what we are doing. Every time we
gather for the Eucharist, we find ourselves once more in that upper room with the first disciples,
and the last supper with all it signified is present again to us.
We need that today as well in order to face the struggles of our culture with strength and
holiness. May we all come to a deeper understanding and reverence of God’ precious gift of the
Eucharist!
God bless!