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Corpus Christi

My goal for this Corpus Christi liturgy is to tell the story of the Mass. Most of this story will be quite familiar. But some parts of the story will catch you by surprise.

The title of the story is: The Presence of Christ. Please hang onto those words: The Presence of Christ.

The story of the Mass begins in the parking lot. Why? Because Christ is present in each person that we meet. We greet each person with respect because Jesus is living in each person. Likewise, our friends and neighbors and fellow parishioners give us the life of Christ when they welcome us at the door.

Then we go to the baptismal font. When we touch the holy water, we think about how we were filled with the life of Christ on the day of our baptism. And touching the baptismal water today fills us once again with the life of Christ. Our next step is to make the Sign of the Cross.

This sign puts us in touch with what happened on the cross. When Jesus sacrificed his life on the cross, his life left his body and entered our hearts and washed away our sins. And today his life enters our hearts when we make the sign of the cross.

hen we walk down the aisle and bow to the altar. The altar is the sign of Christ at the center of our community. The altar is a beautiful table which reminds us of the table of the Last Supper. When Jesus was at table with his friends, he gave himself to them by giving them his body and blood. So by bowing to the altar, we begin the process of preparing ourselves to receive the Body and blood of Christ.

During our time of prayer, the first main event is the reading of Sacred Scripture. We receive the life of Christ when we listen to the Word because our church says that the proclamation of Sacred Scripture contains the real presence of Christ. Today we heard about the manna which God gave to the people when they were starving in the desert. This manna was literally the bread of life.

It saved them from starvation and set them free to become the children of God.

The reading of scripture is followed by a time of silence. This gives us time to let the message filter down from our heads into our hearts. The times of silence are a vital and necessary part of our liturgy.

Then we receive the life of Christ in the Second reading. Today we heard St. Paul saying that although we are many persons, we are one body: We are the Body of Christ. Though many we are one. We should have harmony in our Eucharistic community because we are one body in Christ.

This reading is also followed by a period of silence. After the second period of silence, we stand for the Gospel. Why do we stand? Because the Gospel is our most important reading. Why is it so important? Because it is always about Jesus. The Gospel always reveals something that Jesus said or did during his time on this earth. Each Gospel passage helps us to enter into a major event in the life of Christ. And when we enter into one of these major events, his life becomes a part of our life. When we receive the Gospel we are receiving the life of Christ.

Today’s Gospel tells us what Jesus said after multiplying the loaves and fishes. Jesus gave a long speech which is called the Bread of Life Discourse. Jesus began this speech by saying, “I am the Bread of Life. I am the Bread that has come down from heaven.” Thus, Jesus is the Bread of Life just as the manna was the bread of life. The manna saved the people from physical death and Jesus saves us from spiritual death. Our selfishness is causing us to suffocate spiritually. Jesus saves us by filling us with love and love turns us away from selfishness. Love leads us back to charity and serving others without seeking any rewards. When we receive the Bread of Life we are filled with the life of Christ.

After we complete the Liturgy of the Word, we begin our preparations for the Eucharistic Prayer. We place our donations in the collection basket to support the ministries of our parish. In other words, this is our time for charity and it reminds us that charity is part and parcel of every Eucharistic celebration.

St. Paul says in First Corinthians, Chapter 11, that if charity is lacking the Eucharist is not valid. Saint Paul was very blunt in his message to the Corinthians. Jesus will not be present in your community if charity is lacking.

Then we place our bread and wine upon the altar and offer the Eucharistic Prayer. We ask the Holy Spirit to come down and change the bread into the Body and Blood of Christ. We ask the Holy Spirit to come down and change wine into the Blood of Christ.

Then we offer one more prayer to the Holy Spirit. We ask the Holy Spirit to change us. We ask the Holy Spirit to take away our divisions and change our hearts and prepare them for reconciliation.

When it’s time for communion we share the Body and Blood of Christ with each other and in doing so we share the life of Christ with each other. And when we share the life of Christ, we recall that his life was a life of making sacrifices and serving others. Thus, when receive the life of Christ at communion time, we are set free to make sacrifices and take on the role of servant. That is why we conclude the Mass by saying, “Let us go forth to serve the Lord.” The Holy Eucharist helps us to be servants of the Lord.

Time for the conclusion: We believe that the life of Christ comes to us through the scriptures, through the people of our faith community, and through the bread and wine which become the Body and blood of Christ during the Eucharistic Prayer.

When we look at things with the eyes of faith, we see that we can be filled with the life of Christ whenever we celebrate the Holy Eucharist. We pray now that our hearts will be open to receiving the life of Christ during the Mass today.

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