The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Year C
Psalm 110:1, 2, 3, 4 (4b)
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
June 23, 2019
As we come together to praise God this weekend, this is a very important weekend in the life of our parish for three reasons.
First, I’ll mention it is my last weekend here as your Pastor. On Tuesday I will move to St. Luke’s in Geneseo. St. Michael’s will become part of a new cluster with St. Joseph the Worker (covering Lyons/Clyde/Savannah) and the Catholic Community of the Blessed Trinity (covering Wolcott/Red Creek/Fair Haven). Fr. Tedesche will become the new Pastor here and Fr. Walter will become the assistant.
Second, as part of the new clustering, this is also the last weekend that St. Michael’s will have a 4:30 p.m. Mass on Saturday. For those who have been coming to this Mass for years, this will be a big change and a loss. Thus, this is important in the life of our parish.
Loss and/or change can be a challenge. How do we get through it? This question leads me to what is really the most important thing we celebrate this weekend.
This is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. It is the Body and Blood of Christ that we receive in the Eucharist that gives us the strength we need in our lives to live as Christ’s disciples through our sufferings and life’s challenges.
The Eucharist is the “source and summit” of what we do as Catholics. Jesus really is present in the Eucharist. It is Jesus we receive in Communion. It is Jesus we gaze up in our Holy Hours.
The use of bread and wine in religious life was not new with Jesus but it took on a new significance. In our first reading today, we hear of Melchizedek offering bread and wine. Later in the Old Testament, God fed the Israelites with the manna, the bread from Heaven, during the Exodus. Unleavened bread was part of the annual Passover celebration as prescribed by God.
The Last Supper came at the time of the Passover. Before that, Jesus had fed 5,000 men with the five loaves. “They all ate and were satisfied.” It was their bellies that were satisfied. At the Last Supper, Jesus takes the bread and wine and makes it his Body and Blood to satisfy the hunger of our souls.
This was not some human invention. As Paul speaks of the Eucharist in today’s second reading, he speaks of how he received it “from the Lord.”
There are those in other denominations who only believe what is found in scripture (sola scriptura). They do not see the Eucharist in scripture but it is. The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all contain stories of the Last Supper that include Jesus’ words, “This is my body… this cup is the new covenant in my blood…do this in remembrance of me.”
For those who think our belief in the Real Presence is not founded in scripture, we also find it in chapter six of John’s Gospel where Jesus says we must “Eat his flesh and drink his blood.” We need the Eucharist to strengthen us.
Here I turn to the Christmas story, the nativity scene. Where do they lay baby Jesus? In a manger. A manger is not a crib. It is a feeding trough for animals. It prefigures Jesus feeding us with the Eucharist.
As I said at the beginning, this weekend brings changes. I am leaving. New priests are coming. We lose the 4:30 Mass. There is also changes to the daily Mass and confession schedule (you can find the schedule for the entire cluster here). As these changes occur, I imagine some of you may also be facing difficulties in your own lives. Whether it be the changes we face as a parish or the challenges you face in your own lives, you do not have to face them alone.
We face them as a community of believers. We face them as disciples of Christ. We face them led by the Spirit, with gifts of understanding and wisdom along with courage. We face them as Jesus feeds us with his Body and Blood so that we have the strength we need.