Homily for Corpus Christi, Year C (18 & 19/6/22)

posted 20 Jun 2022, 02:15 by Parish Office

Many of you will have studied geography at school, and no matter how much of it you can remember and how much you have forgotten, I’m sure you all still know that the earth is round. And one of the effects of the earth being round is that the climate and seasons are different, depending on where you are living. A bit of an extreme example of that was only on Friday, when the weather forecast was saying that if you live in London, the temperature will be 33oC, whilst up in Scotland it might be only around 18-20oC. But one of the other effects on the earth is that if you live close to the equator, the time of sunrise and sunset is fairly constant throughout the year, whilst here in England it varies quite dramatically between summer and winter. When I began my priestly training and spent a year in Spain I was surprised to discover that in summer it’s not light outside until around 7:30 – 8 am, whilst in England the sun can rise at around 4:30 am. And there are other differences too. Here, when the sun sets, there is still light for at least another half an hour or so, but closer to the equator, it becomes dark very sudden. The comedian Lenny Henry once said that when he went to the equator, all of a sudden, it was night.

In the Gospel today, did you spot what time of day it was? It was late afternoon, meaning that darkness would soon come, and, of course, there were no street lights back then. But light and dark is a theme running through the Gospels. Before it gets dark, Jesus multiples the bread and fish to feed the five thousand, and that meal reminds us of the Eucharist: “he took the five loaves … said the blessing … broke them and handed them to his disciples to distribute among the crowd”. When does the Last Supper take place? In the evening. Judas leaves the room to betray his Master, and we are told, “Night had fallen” (Jn 13:30b). The crucifixion happened during the day, but there was an eclipse of the sun for three hours: “a darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour” (Luke 23:44). But when we come to the Resurrection, it is a new day as they go to the tomb and find it empty. We live now in the time of the Resurrection.

The Sequence today tells us, “And rising day dispels the night”. But it’s important that that Day doesn’t gradually fade in our memory. What Christ has done for us demands a response, the response of love.

The Sequence is wonderful piece of poetry, and it’s worth reading slowly when you have time. It also says:

“Christ willed what he himself had done

Should be renewed while time should run”.

That refers to the Eucharist. The preface today says:

“at the Last Supper with his Apostles,

establishing for the ages to come the saving memorial of the Cross,

he offered himself to you as the unblemished Lamb”

Just like Melchizedek in the first reading offered a sacrifice of bread and wine to God, Jesus has given us a sacrifice to offer, which is not just ordinary bread and wine, but His Body and Blood, but the thing is that it’s not another sacrifice, but it’s the same sacrifice that Christ offered on the Cross. The bread and wine are first changed into His Body and Blood, and the priest then, after the memorial acclamation, offers that sacrifice to the Father. Christ speaks through the priest and offers Himself to the Father. Then in Holy Communion, we receive the fruits of that sacrifice, or as St Paul put it in the second reading, “every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death”.

The sacrifice of Christ and His Resurrection have great power to renew the world, and that means the Eucharist has great power to renew the world, but only if we allow that to happen by cooperating with the Lord. I have a quote here from Pope St John Paul II, although I’ve not managed to find the reference, but this is what he said:

“There must be a complete return of the whole Church Militant to Jesus present in the Eucharist to combat the indifference and sacrilegious communions which contaminate the whole church, paralysing it, making it so very sick. We must go to the fountain of living water, which will open up a new Pentecost of grace and light, of renewed holiness of the Church, Jesus in the Eucharist.

“No human or pastoral plans will bring this about, only Jesus in His sacramental presence.”

So to renew the Church and renew the world, we have to return faithfully to the Eucharist. That is how the darkness and the shadows in this world will be dispelled. We have to turn to Him. We can’t expect to do the work all by ourselves.