You have heard before my saying this about the Feast of the day in previous years. It is all about great Faith memories, as a child. The remembrances of our tender years always carry special significance for so many of us who have been blessed with good parents, good families, a safe environment, a child's wonder at the beauty and mystery of life, of the symbols of our Faith, of God, of nature. We all carry those memories deep in our heart well into our adulthood. In fact we are the final product of those tender years. Although God is not finished with us yet.
One memory that I carry today on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus is the festive atmosphere which permeated the small town where I was born near the city of Salamanca, Spain. All the streets were decked with colorful long silk pieces, hanging from the balconies and myriads of aromatic herbs of all kinds, spiced with lavender and thyme, gathered from their own gardens and from the fields by the women of the town, were strewn on the ground for the Procession honoring the Blessed Lord. The First Communion children were all lined up for the big Procession through the streets of town. Everyone was dressed in their Sunday best. The Priest carried the beautiful gold Monstrance, which contained the precious Body of the Lord, as he walked under the Pallio or silk golden embroidered CANOPY held by eight men, four at each side, holding the Canopy aloft with eight long silver poles. Church Bells were ringing and Eucharistic songs were being sung by all as they processed. Following the Procession a Solemn High Mass was celebrated. It was a perfect day!
We are here today celebrating the same Faith that our ancestors lived. We come to manifest our deep belief in the Sacrament of the Real Presence of the Lord Jesus, within the Eucharist containing the very Body and Blood of God's only Son, totally and completely, with his Humanity and Divinity. This is no memory or memorial or a sign like a flag can be a sign or memorial of a place or a country. It is much more than that. It is Jesus Himself, the Son of God, who at the Last Supper with his disciples instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist. He is with us, really and truly, in the consecrated species of Bread and Wine, in his entire humanity and divinity. He wants to be close to us and dwell inside us, to be our companion for the journey of life, fraught many times with tests, dangers, suffering, and even death, like the death of our loved ones. This Bread of life will be our strength, our inspiration, our solace, the prelude for the eternal Banquet in Heaven.
Other Christians who adopted the axiom "sola fides" (faith only) and "sola Scriptura" (Scripture only), with no Mass, no Priesthood and no Sacraments except Baptism, have shattered the unity of belief in the Eucharist and the words of the Lord Jesus at the Last Supper: Take and eat. This is my Body which will be given for you. Take and drink. This is my Blood which will be shed. These words ring loud and clear for all who have been given the grace of belief in the totality of doctrine Jesus brought to us.
The missionaries from the old world of Spain brought such belief not too distant from us here. It was on the Feast of Corpus Christi in 1519 that Spanish explorer Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda discovered a lush semi-tropical bay in what is now the Southern coast of Texas. The bay and the city that later sprung there took the name of the feast of the day, Corpus Christi, Latin for "the Body of Christ". I am always impressed by the Faith of those early missionaries.
But that was then and this is now. Today, with a renewed faith on this special Sunday, we embrace the doctrine of the Eucharist that underlies the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. This Eucharist, an act of thanksgiving to God, is an act of offering Jesus to his Father, since he is the Priest, the Victim, and the Oblation. In Jesus and with Jesus and through Jesus, we offer ourselves to God the Father, for ourselves, for our intentions, for our family, and for all the peoples of the world. Christ's redemptive act is still ongoing. The Eucharist is the proof of God's love, the life which sustains us in our journey. This is the food of Heaven for our pilgrimage on earth. This is the food for the weak, for the high and the lowly, the saint and the repentant sinner. Come to the Banquet. The table is ready. Come and eat.
May the peace of Christ, the Bread of Life, be with you always,