HOMILY: Becoming What We Receive

Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) | June 6/7, 2015

PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the readings here.

My God, give me the grace to perform this action with you and through love for you. In advance, I offer to you all the good that I may do and accept all the difficulty I may meet therein.

Saint Francis de Sales. Pray for us.

Every morning at Nativity, we begin with this prayer.

We gather in the cafeteria and recite the prayer as one. Each student begins the day by choosing to offer the best of who they are that day to God.

In theory, this prayer should be the only discipline policy that we need.

Somehow, it doesn’t quite work that way.

Despite the fact that our students have just directed their intention to God, this does not prevent them from shutting down during a test, poking their neighbor during class or slide tackling their opponent during soccer.

It seems that speaking the words is the easy part. It is living them out that presents the challenge.

I thought about this dichotomy when I read the 1st reading for today. For I can imagine that Moses felt similarly in his interactions with the Israelites.

For just like my boys, the Chosen People were genuine in their desire to follow all of the laws that God had set forth.

They just had a difficult time putting those intentions into actions.

Again and again, God would need to renew the covenant with the Israelites because they continuously failed to live up to the vows they had made, the words they had spoken.

And yet, this never dissuaded God from remaining true to the covenant He made. He never grew discouraged with the failures of those He had chosen.

On the contrary, the inability of the Israelites to follow through on their promises only seemed to deepen God’s commitment to the covenant and the people, culminating in God’s decision to send His son into the world.

To teach the world how to live in a manner consistent with the words we speak, the vows we make.

To teach the world how to follow through on our promises, even if that obedience leads us to the cross.

Like the Israelites, we too have been invited into a covenant. And just like our ancestors, we too make our intentions known every time we assemble in this sacred space.

We say our Amen. We give our assent. We proclaim what we believe.

That Christ died and rose for us.

That we are part of Christ’s body. That we are united with every other sister and brother who drinks of that one cup.

That we too are called to be broken and poured out for the sake of the world. That are lives are an offering that we return to the Lord.

And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, our lives do not always reflect the Amen that we have spoken.

We want to believe, but belief does not always come easily. The Resurrection can seem a fairy tale in the moments when we are faced with death in all its power. When we bury the ones we love. When we watch as children die of cancer, sons come home from war in a body bag and strangers are beheaded in a foreign land.

Christ can seem irrelevant as we simply try to make it from one day to the next. Paying bills, raising families, meeting deadlines, and making it all work. We can find ourselves asking, what difference does faith even make?

We want to be one body, but unity does not always come easily. We have our own viewpoints that clash with other. We tear each other apart over our differences. We put our own quest to be right over the well-being of others. We allow our diversity to become divisive.

We want to emulate Christ, but this does not come easily. We believe we are too broken to be able to be used by God. We are convinced that our own imperfections prevent us from being God’s instrument. We are running on empty and can’t possibly imagine being poured out for anyone else. We have been used and abused and are wary of being taken advantage of again.

Yes, we too fail to live up to the words we speak.

But do not lose heart my friends. Do not be discouraged.

For today’s feast of Corpus Christi is another moment in which God chooses to renew the covenant.

By once again sending the Son.

To teach us. To show us the way. To encourage us. To strengthen us.

Right here. Right now. In this Eucharistic celebration. In every Eucharistic celebration.

All we have to do is say our Amen.

And then begin again the work of being true to the Amen that we have proclaimed.

Perfection may elude us. But God will not forsake us on our journey. So let us once more try again. To become what we profess. To become what we receive.

Let us do so in memory of him. May God be Praised.

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