Corpus Christi Sunday 2021

Corpus Christi Procession

I think Jesus could not have chosen a simpler way to stay with us forever after His Death, Resurrection, and Ascension to heaven. He did it in a very peculiar way because – as we know – He chose two very inconspicuous and simple things, such as bread and wine which we have heard about in today’s Gospel and which we also know from our daily lives. No wonder that for some people – and perhaps also for some of us – it is quite difficult to understand and believe that God can be really present in the signs of bread and wine, just as it is difficult to understand another truth of our faith about the Holy Trinity, which we have reflected on last Sunday.

I remember that several years ago – as a very young student – I was inspired by one very interesting dialogue about faith, and more specifically about the Eucharist. It was a dialogue between a young lad who at some point in his life unexpectedly lost his faith, and a retired priest who was a very active and committed spiritual director and authority for many generations, and not only for Catholics.

How is it possible – the young boy asked the priest – that ordinary bread and wine supposedly becomes the real Body and Blood of Christ. How can you believe in it, and how could you explain this strange phenomenon to me?

The experienced priest looked at him and immediately answered his question: When you look my friend at your body, when you look at your skin, arms and legs, you may ask: How is it possible that my human body digests and then changes the same food I eat every day into tissue, muscle, bone and blood, giving me strength and energy needed to live. Have you ever asked yourself this or a similar question? Have you ever thought that in fact the same food you eat – in a sense – becomes your own body? Think about it for a moment. Isn’t it something wonderful and amazing at the same time, something that we experience day after day, throughout our lives, and we probably don’t realize it because we’ve got used to this obvious fact and take it for granted? Now please think about something else. Since all that I have said about our human body is an undeniable and obvious truth, the more God who is almighty has the power to transform ordinary bread and wine into his body and blood to live with us, and moreover, to live for us providing us with spiritual strength and protection.

– Okay, I’m trying to understand what you believe in. But now explain something else to me, something that interests me even more. How can Jesus be present in such a small piece of bread? How can he fit into such a small host that is used at every Mass?

The priest answered him using another comparison: Look straight ahead my friend. As you can see this gorgeous and fabulous landscape in front of you is so huge and wide, but on the other hand your eyes are so small. Have you ever wondered how can you embrace such wide landscapes, mountains, valleys, lakes and rivers with your little eyes? Isn’t that another amazing miracle that we don’t realize and that we don’t pay attention to in our daily life because it’s just another thing we take for granted. But since this is an obvious and undeniable truth, then all the more God – as I believe – is able to be really present in even the smallest piece of bread and in a few drops of wine.

– You really intrigued me with your answer – said the young man – but I have one more, last question: How can the same Jesus be present in all the churches of the world at the same time?

The priest thought for a while and then took the large mirror he noticed somewhere nearby, then lifted it very high above his head and threw it on the floor to smashed it into thousands tiny pieces. Then he said: Look, please, in each of these pieces very carefully. Now you can see your reflections – thousands of them – and you can see yourself in so many little pieces at the same time!

Thanks to this example, this intelligent young man understood better the priest’s explanation, he bowed his head and walked away thoughtfully. As far as I know he remembered this encounter and this interesting conversation with his friend for the rest of his life.

Perhaps some of you would like to ask me. Does this story have a happy ending? Did this encounter make him believe again, and did it help him to rebuild a strong faith and a strong relationship with God to the end of his life? Did this dialogue dispel all his doubts and did he finally believe that the Eucharist is not only a theory or another dogma, but also a real presence and a real miracle that happens every day – literally before our eyes – in so many magnificent and beautiful cathedrals but also in so many simple churches such as Saint Edward’s and in many others all over the world? I don’t know the answer to this question but today – on Corpus Christi Sunday – I would like to invite you all and encourage you all to appreciate this extraordinary Sacrament of the Eucharist even more. May today’s great feast be an opportunity for us to believe even more, to be amazed even more and to be grateful even more to God for this presence, for his miraculous presence among us in such simple and inconspicuous signs of bread and wine. And finally, may this extraordinary bread and wine help us achieve eternal life and share the joy of heaven with all the saints. Amen.

Fr Gregory