15th/16th September 2018

posted 17 Sept 2018, 04:31 by Parish Office

Homily for the Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

(15 & 16/9/18)


Last weekend I was at Adoremus, the Eucharistic Congress in Liverpool.  The final event on the Sunday was a big procession with the Blessed Sacrament through the streets of Liverpool, ending with Benediction given by the Cardinal.  It was a great act of witness, with thousands of people present – so many, in fact, that Benediction simply couldn’t have happened in the cathedral, so it took place outside on the Cathedral steps.


The procession began straight after the 11:30 Mass, with many bishops, priests and deacons present.  The Archbishop was there, as was Bishop David McGough, and various priests from this diocese.  I had concelebrated the 9:30 Mass, so I wasn’t in the procession of priests, but joined the crowd instead.  Various people had made their way there from this deanery and further afield, and we carried a large Birmigham Archdiocese banner in the procession.  As the procession began, looking up towards the cathedral, there were a few clouds and sunshine, whilst looking behind us there were heavy clouds.  Then, as the procession began, the heavens opened, and the rain came pouring down.  And yes, it didn’t half rain!  Umbrellas went up, and some people waited in bus shelters for it to stop.  We sang various hymns during the procession, and a certain amount of amusement spread throughout the procession as we sang Soul of My Saviour and reached the words, “wash me with water, flowing from thy side”.  Then, towards the end of the procession, the rain slowed down and eventually stopped, with a good wind blowing to dry us all off, so that by the time we all reached the Cathedral steps and Benediction took place, the sun came out again.  It was all rather symbolic of the Christian life.


At the beginning of the procession, we had all began rather enthusiastically, just like someone who is new to the Catholic faith.  Then it began to rain.  A kind person let me use her umbrella.  After the initial “honeymoon” period of becoming a Catholic, or returning to the Catholic faith, then can come the moment of trial.  But we persevere.  It’s important that we support each other when things get difficult, when it seems during the Christian life that it seems to be raining.  Because there were so many of us, people came out of the surrounding pubs and other places to see what was going on.  Our Christian life is lived out in public, in full view of others.  And perhaps sometimes, it might inspire others to join us.  During the procession, because there were so many of us, after the monstrance had gone past, I lost sight of it because it was so far ahead.  During our lives as Catholics, it can seem that God isn’t around, but He is still there.  Then, at the end of the procession, we were restored to dryness and blessed by the Lord.  For many of us, after the storms of life, we receive the Last Rites of the Church before our final entrance into glory.  We walked with Christ through life, and it’s through the Cross that we enter into the Resurrection.


To sustain us throughout life, we have the Bread of Life.  We are filled with the life of God, just as we need ordinary food to sustain our bodily life.  But the Eucharist doesn’t just unite us to Christ.  It’s like a jigsaw puzzle.  If through Holy Communion we are united to Christ, then it means that we are also united through Him to each other.  Furthermore, when we receive the Eucharist, we don’t receive the dead Christ, but the risen Christ.  Christ fills us with new life and sends us His Holy Spirit, so we shouldn’t remain the same after receiving the Eucharist.


Ten years ago in 2008, Cardinal Christian Wiyghan Tumi, Archbishop of Douala in Cameroun, spoke at a previous Eucharistic Congress on how the Eucharist transforms us, and helps us to put our faith into action, as we are told to in the letter of St James.  With perhaps typical African fervour and passion, he put it this way:


“If the Eucharist does not lead us to love our brothers and sisters more deeply and to give of our lives no matter what the risk, then let us forget about everything! This is why the Eucharist is terribly dangerous: passion for love is always dangerous. The Eucharistic person is a dangerous person, burning with the fire of the Spirit and whose only purpose is to extend that fire and to become fire for others. This person is bold and confrontational, a person of radicalism and absolutes. This is a person who feels obliged to commit himself for God, for humankind. This person disturbs and challenges others, giving them a bad conscience. This person’s passion is for God and humankind; it is devoured by this thirst, it is their vocation, their destiny.


“How can we celebrate the Eucharist, how can we be witnesses to Christ without bearing within us this passion for man and Christ’s torment for the poor and the unloved?”[1]


The Eucharistic Procesion at Adoremus symbolised the fact that as Christians, we walk with Christ, supporting and helping each other.  And just as the rain changed to sunshine, so the Eucharist transforms us, and make us then want to change society.

[1]See http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pont_committees/eucharist-congr/documents/rc_committ_euchar_doc_20080621_testimoni-tumi_en.html