Sunday, May 25, 2008

Feast of Corpus Christi - homily

Last year during one of our Youth Group meetings, one of our teens said to me, “I just felt God’s presence”. At another meeting, another teen said that she just felt the hand of God on her head. We do a lot of fun stuff at Youth Group and we have a good time. But, once a month we do Eucharistic Adoration; these were two of our teens’ experiences with Adoration. One of our adults who comes to Adoration regularly said that she didn’t think true peace was attainable in this life before she started going to Adoration; she has since found true peace. Adoration is one of the greatest ways for us to honor this glorious feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ. So what is Adoration?

Adoration is when the Eucharist is exposed for us to adore and worship. At St. Andrew’s, we have Adoration every Friday from 7-8 pm. At the beginning of the hour, we bring the Eucharist out of the tabernacle and place it on the altar in a vessel called a monstrance. We have silent prayer for a while and then music for meditation and reflection. Then, at the end of the hour, we have the rite of Benediction. When I celebrate Benediction, I bring the monstrance out to the congregation. I place a veil over my hands and give sections of the congregation the solemn blessing with the monstrance.

Now, if we are saying that this Eucharist is the Body of Christ, then it is really the hand of Jesus giving the blessing to his people. We have had kids from our school, teens, and adults all experience this powerful moment with the Eucharist so close during Benediction. It is really Jesus walking through the Church, giving his blessing just like 2000 years ago. Powerful, radical stuff! Our kids and teens love Adoration!

It might be intimidating, though. It’s not just coming to Church on a Friday night; it’s not just praying for an hour (although you don’t have to come for the whole hour; you can just come for a few minutes). What can be most intimidating is coming face-to-face with God. This is what happens with Adoration. And yet, Jesus says, ‘come to me’. ‘Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened…all you who drive by here every day…going to all of your activities…to and from work…bring me all of your worries, your problems, your fears, anxiety, hopes, dreams, joys, sadnesses…bring them all to me…and I will give you rest. I will give you peace that you can’t find anywhere else’.

This is really what we do when we come to Adoration – we dump all of our stuff on Jesus. We say, ‘Lord, take all of this. Help me’. He wants us to bring Him everything we are going through. It is like coming to see a good friend. We come to His house to spend time with Him. This is one of the biggest reasons He has given us the Eucharist, I think; it is so he can be close to us and we can be close to Him.

To remind us all about this radical opportunity to be with Christ, I have made some cards for you. They are magnetic business cards that advertise Adoration and the times we offer it here – Fridays from 7-8 pm and 1st Saturdays from 9-10 am. Please take one card as you leave here this morning and put them on your fridge at home.

I have told you the statistic that 70% of Catholics don’t believe that the Eucharist is for real. They believe that the Eucharist is just a symbol; that it’s just bread. This is what Protestants believe! I think the reason the 70% and Protestants don’t believe in the Eucharist is because they really haven’t heard the teaching, especially from the Gospel we just heard (John 6). Jesus is saying over and over again that the Eucharist is for real. He uses the words ‘flesh’ 5 times and ‘blood’ 4 times in relation to the Eucharist. The people heard him speaking literally and they took him literally. They questioned him about it and then left him, saying, ‘who are you to give us your flesh to eat? What are you talking about? We’re outta here’. The Apostles were confused, too, but stayed with Jesus. The early Christians took this teaching literally and passed it down to us. For 2000 years, we have believed that the Eucharist is truly the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.

Finally, whenever we come to Mass, we are saying that the Eucharist is for real. When the minister says to us at Holy Communion, “the Body of Christ”, and we say, “Amen” (I Believe), we are saying that the Eucharist is for real. Whenever we genuflect in Church, we are saying that Jesus is really present in the tabernacle. Whenever we drive by a Catholic Church and bless ourselves, we are saying that the Eucharist is for real. Whenever we come to Adoration, we are saying the Eucharist is for real. At a youth conference recently with 300 teens adoring Christ, I said to them, “we look like we’re crazy! We look nuts - on our knees worshiping what looks like a piece of bread!” What is the basis for all of this? The basis for this feast, for 2000 years of belief, for Adoration, for all of this– it is four words: THIS IS MY BODY.

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