Processing With God
Homily for Sunday, June 7, 2015
Corpus Christi / Corpus Domini Sunday
Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ - B
by Dcn Bob Bonomi
Have you ever participated in a Corpus Christi procession? One that wound around the streets, with the Holy Eucharist at the front of the line, lifted high and displayed in a monstrance of gold? Last night, several hundred adorers were expected to participate in the Corpus Christi procession from Holy Trinity Catholic Church to the Cathedral, stopping along the way to read Scriptures and to sing songs of praise. On Facebook there were pictures of the procession, led by Fr. Edwin Leonard and which included the Matachines dancers. And I know many other churches in the area that will hold their own Corpus Christi Processions today.
Why do we do it? From the information for yesterday’s procession: “The Corpus Christi Procession makes known God’s presence in our world and in our lives, and it reminds us of our common call to follow Christ and seek Heaven. It is both an act of personal devotion to Christ in the Eucharist, as well as an act intended to share God’s love with the world, as is manifest in the Blessed Sacrament.”
Actually, the very first Corpus Christi procession occurred around the year 33 AD, when Christ himself led a procession up a long hill to be displayed before the world on a cross. The feast day itself we owe to the efforts of St. Juliana of Mont Cornillon who had a great devotion to the Holy Eucharist. By the middle of the 13th century, Pope Urban IV issued a decree that it be celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday.
By the early fourteenth century, the custom developed of carrying the Blessed Sacrament in a splendid procession through the town after the Mass on Corpus Christi Day. This was encouraged by the popes, some of whom granted special indulgences to all participants. The Council of Trent (1545-1563) solemnly approved and recommended the procession on Corpus Christi as a public profession of the Catholic faith in the real presence of Christ in the Holy Sacrament.
Although the participation in Eucharistic processions has declined in recent years, there is beginning to be a renewal by those who yearn for meaning in their lives and who are seeking a way to draw closer to God. By participating in a procession, Catholics demonstrate their willingness to be followers of the crucified Christ and a recognition that their faith, their lives, were purchased by Jesus through His act of self-sacrifice. The procession reminds us that we, too, must be willing to shoulder our crosses and walk with Jesus.
The words of today’s Gospel are brief but powerful: “Take it; THIS is My Body.” “THIS is My Blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.” The Church has held that the Eucharist IS the real presence of Christ – Body, Blood, Soul AND Divinity. We gather each Sunday around this altar, not just to be fed by His Presence in the Word and in the People, but by His Very Person. WE become tabernacles for His Presence to others, and today we are reminded of our obligations BECAUSE we are here.
Pope Francis last Thursday said that “the Eucharist makes present the Covenant that sanctifies us, purifies us and unites us in marvelous communion with God.” And like we hear in the first reading, where the Israelites promised to obey the laws and statutes given to them by God through Moses, God makes a covenant with us, and seals it with His Blood. Pope Francis reminds us that because we are here, because we participate in this celebration each week in Mass, that we are called to action. Just as ordinary bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ, so too must WE be transformed by His Real Presence living in us.
Pope Francis concluded his homily with the following: “In a little while we shall walk along the way, let us perceive ourselves in communion with our many brothers and sisters who do not have the freedom to express their faith in the Lord Jesus. Let us feel ourselves united with them, let us sing with them, praise with them, adore with them. And we venerate in our hearts those brothers and sisters from whom the sacrifice of their lives has been required for fidelity to Christ: let their blood, united to that of the Lord, be a pledge of peace and reconciliation for the whole world.”
This week, spend some time before the Blessed Sacrament. Open yourself to the Real Presence of Christ. Then go and remember that we are part of EVERY Christian on this earth and, as St. Paul said, “If one part suffers, EVERY part suffers with it; if one part is honored, EVERY part rejoices with it.” You are part of every person you meet. So is Jesus.
So, do not ignore your fellow man. You are ignoring Christ.