Sunday Homily, June 14, 2020
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ 2020 by Deacon John Girolami
The Hunger of Man – the food that satisfies.
For the past 3 months, our church here at St Francis has sounded her bells at 9 am, noon, 3 and 6 pm. every day. Since I live close to the church, I can hear them even with the doors and windows closed. It is intended to remind us to pray for the needs of our community and for a cure to our current pandemic.
For me it also reminds me that the Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist is present just a few hundred yards from my back door. When I hear the bells, I try and stop what I am doing and turn towards the church, say a small prayer and bless myself. You see, I know that the blessed sacrament is there every day. It is in every tabernacle of every Catholic church in the world. The graces that come from the Blessed Sacrament cannot be contained by walls or circumstances.
Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. It is a time when we remember the great gift that Jesus gave us, the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, Christ gives us himself, body, blood, soul and divinity. It is not a symbol in the form of bread and wine, it is Jesus himself.
Last week we heard how God the Father gave us His Son and the Holy Spirit. Through the death and resurrection of Christ we are saved. Through the actions of the Holy Spirit, Christ becomes present in the form of bread and wine.
God the Father gave us his Son and His Spirit because He knew we needed to be fed. He knew we would be hungry. Like a good father he knows what we need and he provides what is needed to satisfy those needs.
In the first reading today, Moses speaks to the people of his day and reminds them how God satisfied their hunger. The people have spent 40 years in the desert and are about to enter the promised land. When there was no food, God gave them manna. It was to teach them of their need for God. He gave them water and poured his graces on them. They are to remember this great event and to pass it on to all future generations. They are to tell them how they were totally dependent on God and how he satisfied their hunger.
But physical hunger is only part of the human experience. There are other kinds of hunger that must be met. All men and women have a hunger to love and to be loved. The Eucharist shows us how much Christ loves us. His love is so great that He gives us himself as our food. It is freely given in love to every person that needs to be strengthened. It cannot be depleted for it flows forever until the end of time. It is up to us to take, to accept this gift. It is the gift of his body and of his word. He loves us so much that he wants us to be complete by accepting his love and developing into people who are more like himself.
We however often look to the wrong places for the food that satisfies. We look to nourish ourselves on success or pride or vanity. We feed on power and pride. None of these come from the Lord. If we feed on these, we will become ill. They do not satisfy us. You see, we also have a hunger for life. But what life is that? Is it bright lights and glamour? It should be a hunger for a life that is fulfilling and a life that makes the world a better place.
We also hunger for many other things. We hunger for peace. We hunger for a life where we can live without conflict with others. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. We believe that He is in control. We hunger for dignity and respect. We want a life where every person is recognized for who they are, a person made in the image and likeness of God. We hunger for justice. Jesus is the perfect judge who chooses mercy first over everything.
Finally, we all have a hunger for eternity. Jesus tells us “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. Whoever eats me will live because of me.”
Jesus knows our hunger. He knows it before we even tell Him that we are hungry, before we even know what we think we need. He satisfies our hunger. He provides for us a banquet. He gives us himself.
I know it must be hard hearing all these things about the Blessed Sacrament at a time when we cannot come together to receive it physically. But why are we staying away? Are we doing it because someone told us not to gather?
I hope that is not the main reason. I hope it is because we love each other and do not want any harm to come to anyone in our community. In other words, we are staying away out of love.
So when you participate in mass on your computer or on television, offer the prayer that St. John Vianney, the humble parish priest prayed,
“O my God, come to me, so that You may dwell in me and I may dwell in You.”
May the Heart of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament be praised, adored and loved with grateful affection at every moment in all the tabernacles of the world even to the end of time.