The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
June 18, 2017 – Year A
Readings: Dt 8:2-3, 14b-16a / Psalm 147 / 1 Cor 10:16-17 / Jn 6:51-58
by Rev. Paul O’Donnell-Duggan, Guest Celebrant
Can you imagine Oprah Winfrey being stuck for a word? She said it happened once when she was being interviewed by Gene Siskel, the Chicago Sun Times film critic, in an interview before he died. He asked her a question that stumped her, “Tell me, Oprah, what do you know for sure?” That’s a great question, and she said, “Um, uh, I know for sure . . . actually, Gene, I need more time. I can’t answer that question right now.” And so for many years her monthly column in her newsmagazine was the answer to that question, “What I Know for Sure.”
As you and I celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi today, hopefully each of us can say that what I know for sure is that the bread and the wine is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Although it is bread and wine at this moment, in a few moments when God borrows my voice to say “This is my Body; This is my Blood,” we can say that we know for sure that it is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
Today we want to give a big, heartfelt thank you to God for giving us the gift of faith. It is only through faith that we see the presence of Jesus. The other day God put a word in my mind. I couldn’t remember where it was in the Bible, but I knew it was something about people wanting to see Jesus. A Google search told me that the verse about people wanting to see Jesus was John 12, Verse 21. I wanted to get the correct words, which were, “Some Greeks came to Philip asking to see Jesus.”
I thought today on the Feast of Corpus Christi, since we know for sure that we see Him in the Eucharist, we should think of some other times and places where we can also see Him. So I drew a ladder, and at the top of the ladder is the Eucharist – where we see Him the most. That’s what we call the “Real Presence” – not that He’s not present in these other ways, but we reserve the word “REAL” only for the Eucharist. What are some other ways that we can see Him? We see Him in His word; that’s why we incense the Book of the Gospels, because he is present. It is He who speaks, not the priest, not the deacon, but Jesus himself speaking to us. We can see Him in our own hearts, our own souls, and hopefully we can see Him in those around us. We can see Him in prayer; prayer is like God rolling out the red carpet for us and saying, “Son or daughter, I am so happy to see you. I’m glad you are here to visit with me.” And in that rare moment in our lives, we can see Him in the silence. At the bottom of my ladder, I put that we can see Him in the poor.
I would like to mention a few ways that we can see Him in the poor. Pope Paul VI had one magnificent statement that touched my heart, “There is an intensity of God’s presence in the poor.” A few years ago when I was driving from Florida to New Jersey, I stopped at McDonalds in Georgia. I saw a couple come in with five children, all under the age of seven. I felt the Lord speaking to me, so I took out my wallet. I took out the smaller of the two bills, and then felt the Lord saying “STINGY.” So I took out the larger bill and went over to the father and asked if he would mind if I paid for his children’s lunch. I paid and got back in my car. In a few seconds I felt the overwhelming presence of God. Not only is there an intensity of God’s presence in the poor, but also God gives us an intensity of his presence in our lives. When we search for Jesus, we always find Him.
Now do not take from this story that Father Paul is so good; that is not the point. I wondered if I should even tell this story because there is a fine line between my message and God’s message; nobody is interested in my message. So I asked God to give me a sign that I should tell this story. Last Tuesday I was shopping in the Dollar Store, and I saw a van pull up and ten children emerged. Again I felt the Lord speaking to me, so I began to talk to the mother. The presence of God was so overwhelming that I felt tears begin to flow. I paid for the mother’s purchases and as I was walking away, all I could hear was, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
It is God’s desire that you and I experience his presence powerfully. To get to the top of the ladder, you have to start at the bottom and work your way to the top. To experience His presence powerfully in the Eucharist, you must climb the rungs, and say, “Lord help me to see You.” When we come to the Eucharist today, on this Feast of Corpus Christi, there is going to be a very powerful sense of the Lord’s presence. When you return to your seat, ask God, “ Lord, let me be like those Greek people wanting to see You. Help me Lord to see You in all the ways You reveal Yourself to me. Lord give me sight.”