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This is the Body of Christ: Homily for June 18, 2017, Corpus Christi (Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ)

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This Sunday, we mark the feast of Corpus Christi, or as it is known in English, “The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.” It celebrates the central meaning and reality of the Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament.

It’s worth asking ourselves: How will we observe it this year? How will we receive the Eucharist? Will we do anything different?

Most of us will do as we always do: wait for the usher to stop by the pew, then at the appointed time, shuffle up to take the host in hand from the priest or deacon or Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. Some people will grab it. A priest I know refers to these as “the Body Snatchers.” Some people will put out one hand like they’re waiting for someone to give them their car keys. Others will quickly get it over with and then head out the door to be the first out of the parking lot.

I see it week after week. We take it for granted, this moment in the Mass.

We shouldn’t. We can’t.

What are we receiving? Today, of all days, stop and look.

And then, listen.

Listen, really listen, to the words spoken to us before we receive communion:

The Body of Christ.

And let that sink in.

This is the Body of Christ.

Consider what you will hold in your hand. Feel the weight of it. The host, that small sliver of bread, is almost weightless, like a scrap of paper.

But it isn’t. Not really.

This is the Body of Christ. It carries the weight of the world.

We hold in our hands the one who walked on water.

We cradle the one who calmed the storm.

Here is Son of God.

Here is the one who gave sight to the blind, and raised the dead, and fed the hungry.

This day, he feeds all of us who are hungry once again.

He gave himself to us on the cross. And he gives us himself again in the Eucharist, as the supreme gift to a suffering and hungry world.

This is the Body of Christ.

It is overwhelming to contemplate. We are not worthy—which is why we pray, at every Mass, “I am not worthy…speak but the word and my soul will be healed.”

Christ’s great mission to a broken world was to help heal its wounds, by becoming like us, and taking on wounded flesh himself. It is good to remember that the very word “host” is derived from the Latin, hostia, which means “victim.”

Incredibly, we take into ourselves, in that object no bigger than a coin, the saving victim—but one who is not only a victim, but a victor. This is the one who conquered death.

Look at what you hold in your hand. Look at The One you hold in your hand.

This is the Body of Christ.

The body that was broken and bruised for us, that was beaten and that bled for us, that was stripped for us.

This is the one who wept for us.

And who died for us.

And who rose for us.

The psalm tells us: “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” Taste that small piece of bread and we taste compassion, and mercy, and tenderness, and love.

This is the goodness of the Lord.

This is the Body of Christ.

This afternoon, we will proclaim that to the world in a procession around the neighborhood.  We will sing hymns of praise and show those around us what we believe, what we cherish, what we venerate, this “gift of finest wheat” that satisfies our hungry hearts.

This is the Body of Christ.

It’s true that we mark this feast just once a year. But we actually celebrate this gift every time we go to Mass. Every time we receive the Eucharist, we celebrate Corpus Christi, becoming living tabernacles, human monstrances, carrying Christ into the world in our own individual Eucharistic processions. Every day, we are called to bear witness to that—and to do what the deacon or priest announces at the end of Mass, “glorifying the Lord with our lives.”

Do we understand that?

Look around you. We are tabernacles of our Lord, living vessels of our savior, witnesses to his life and love.

How do we show that to the world?

How do we reflect what we receive?

This Sunday, let us stop and look and listen. Consider more deeply what happens when you approach for communion. Behold a miracle and mystery, and the greatest ongoing gift.

It’s not just a wafer. It’s not just a slice of bread.

This is our hope. This is our salvation. This is the one who gave his all for all of us.

This is the Body of Christ.

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Deacon Greg Kandra
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Deacon Greg Kandra is a Roman Catholic deacon in the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York. For nearly three decades, he was a writer and producer for CBS News, where he contributed to a variety of programs and was honored with every major award in broadcasting. Deacon Greg now serves as Multimedia Editor for Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA.) He and his wife live in Forest Hills, New York.
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