Sunday, May 25, 2008

Remember & Share (Corpus Christi homily)

The first reading from Deuteronomy is Moses’ message to God’s People
as they are about to enter the Land of Promise.

You have come a long way…a dangerous journey…

Who led you? Who fed you—remember?

What were you on the other side of that desert—
you were slaves! Remember?

Clearly, Moses understood human nature.

Kids, did your parents tell you
to "remember" anything this morning?
Servers? Does I say anything like that before Mass?

Husbands, wives…
It’s the same for all of us.
God knows how soon we forget.

The Mass is all about remembering.

Thirty-five hundred years ago,
God delivered a people from slavery.
Two thousand years ago, God himself came.

He became the Lamb whose blood would save us.

The Mass is how we remember:
at this altar,
the Cross happens here,
the true Lamb is slain.
And we eat his Flesh and drink his Blood.

There’s one more part.

It’s not only about what they—and we—
were called to remember…but also why.
God chose them so they would share His Message
with the world.
The reason you and I know who God is…

is because they did remember: we have the Bible.

The reason we know who Jesus is…

is because everyone between his time, and ours, remembered.

And like our forebears, we remember so we can share.

As Catholics we have this Gift of the Eucharist,
His True Body and Blood.
Yet so much of the world around us
doesn’t know, doesn’t believe, yet.
Who will tell them?

Now, please, we must be clear.
Many of our fellow Christians don’t believe as we do, about the Eucharist.
Yes, it matters, but…we know Christ works in their lives,
through their baptism.
They love Jesus—often so well,
you and I can take a lesson from them.
And yet, we have a Gift we are called to tell others about.

Now, I might as well just say out loud
what you may be wondering:
why don’t we Catholics just invite all Christians
to share communion?

Let me tell you a story, and I warn you, it may shock you.

About 12 years ago, before I was a priest,
some friends of mine got married.
They were married in a Pentecostal church

and they asked me to be one of the groomsmen.

They said there’d be communion,
and they expected everyone to take communion.
Well, I said, as a Catholic, we don’t do that,
because of the different things we believe.
Now, here is what they said—and get ready for this:
No problem—go ahead and just put it in your pocket."

Does that shock you? Sure it does!

Now, listen: I don’t tell that story
to be critical of them, not at all.
They were not in any way being disrespectful.

It just shows some very different beliefs:

in their church, just bread, no big deal.

For us, of course, it’s really Jesus—we kneel and adore.

That’s a very vivid example of many differences,
many are less obvious.
But it is true that Christians do differ
on things that matter,
yet Saint Paul told us in the second reading,

the Eucharist is meant to express
a full unity of belief and practice.

So, while we work toward that full unity,

there are times Christians come together to pray,
we work side by side,
but we aren’t yet unified enough to share the Eucharist.

And that should move us to do even more:

to pray, to repent if need be, and to be messengers—

so that one day, we will again be one in the Eucharist.

I’ll say again—this isn’t about who loves Jesus better,
or who Jesus loves more.

But we remember, He gave us such a Gift: His Flesh and His Blood.
And we remember why He called us:

To share the Gift,
so all the world may know—and live.


southerncanuck said...

A beautiful sermon Father. I read these and am especially grateful for your posting of them when our local mass doesn't quite cut it. Yesterday we had a social justice homily which seemed odd on the feast of Corpus Christi.

japhy said...

I like the way you spoke of the different sentiments that different denominations have for "communion" (or whatever they happen to call it).

The homily I heard, although it was good at times, ended with a remark that the Catholic Church uses the Eucharist as a "divider" or a "dividing line" (something to that effect) since we don't allow Protestants to receive, followed by "We still have a long way to go."

Very ambiguous. :(