How do you like the Sanctuary now? The Tabernacle is now restored and in place behind the Altar. Our Lady of Guadalupe is no longer covered with a reflecting glass. And, as a community, we chose together our primary image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and it is now permanently hung behind the altar.
Now, I have a challenge for all parishioners. We are not here to be entertained, but to become disciples. Each of you has a personal faith story, probably related in some way to the Holy Eucharist. We need to become comfortable sharing our faith story with others, our own children and family members and friends. There is no “right” way to do this. No two stories would be alike, and we would probably surprise each other with our personal stories. Our symbols are meant to help us communicate our faith. We would simply ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in our faith story, and for the courage to tell it.
Allow me to give you one example, using elements and art in our own Sanctuary. Basically, I might tell a love story that goes like this:
“God so loved the world that he gave His only Son. His Son took on human flesh from the Virgin Mary. Mary bore Him in her womb, and she became the First Tabernacle of God among us. Jesus invited all of us into the Kingdom of God to live with Him forever. The world did not accept Him and He suffered and died for all of us, with his cruel death on the Cross. He died for our sins. However, He conquered death on that Cross, and resurrected from the dead, defeating Death for all of us. By His Cross and by His Blood, our sins are forgiven and he gained Heaven for all those Baptized into Him. He gave us his Body and Blood at the Altar with this promise,
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.”
At Holy Communion, we become Tabernacles, like our Mother, Mary.
But man was not always faithful, and men’s hearts often grew cold in their love for God. Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque showing his Sacred Heart to remind us of his love and suffering for all of us. He urged all of us to receive Him in the Blessed Sacrament as often as we could, and to make atonement in Confession and penitential sacrifice for our lack of love for Him.
He lives for us, so we can live with Him forever.
This is just one version. I could tell another. You may have your own. I challenge each of you to pray with these symbols of our faith. Then tell your story with confidence using these symbols. Share it with your family, your children, your spouse. Let’s learn how to use the signs of our faith around the Altar.
We gather here each week around this altar to praise God and to be fed by Him in Word and Sacrament in the Holy Mass.
The Mass is ancient. From all the evidence, it probably began in Jerusalem, on the Day of Christ’s Resurrection. In 2,000 years not a week has gone by since that day that the Church hasn’t celebrated the Mass. The Apostles and the first Christians understood Jesus’ instructions to gather on the Lord’s Day to celebrate the Holy Mass to remain close to Christ.
The Apostles taught the Holy Mass wherever they went. We heard St. Paul teach about the Mass in the second reading. Sometime in the 50’s, Paul was writing to the Corinthians, a large city in Greece, where he had had lived among them for about a year and a half. Paul was writing to them much later to remind them of the importance of the Holy Mass, saying,
Brothers and sisters:
The cup of blessing that we bless,
is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?
The bread that we break,
is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
Their language was Greek. They still didn’t use the word “Mass”. That was a Latin word that would come much later. The Mass was sometimes called, “The Breaking of Bread”, but it was our “Mass” as taught by Jesus to the Apostles and practiced ever since.
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, or “Corpus Christi”. We honor the Body of Christ as His gift to us for eternal life. Jesus told us,
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world.”
These are Jesus’ words, and they are very clear. The most powerful sacrament for the forgiveness of sins and for eternal salvation is the Body and Blood of Jesus.
Our Feast of Corpus Christi is the Feast of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ. Our hunger for this bread will save us. Our devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus will increase our hunger for His Body and Blood. Don’t miss Mass. Receive Holy Communion every opportunity you get. Go to Confession regularly, and you will live in the Kingdom of God.
And learn to tell the story of your faith.