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Bishop's Homily for the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)

June 6, 2021

[St. Damien of Molokai Church, Kaunakakai (Confirmation & First Communion; Installation of Pastor);
St. John the Apostle & Evangelist Church, Mililani (Confirmation & First Communion)]

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Jesus could touch our loved ones who are suffering from cancer or some other life-threatening disease and heal them?  Wouldn’t we rejoice if Jesus could come and bring hope to all people who are despairing and who in their despair turn instead to drugs, alcohol or pornography in a desperate attempt to fill the gaping hole in their hearts?  Wouldn’t it be so beautiful if Jesus could come to heal and strengthen families so that they could stay together and flourish, despite all their hardships and hurts?  Wouldn’t it be a great blessing if Jesus could turn all violence, whether domestic or international, into peace and reconciliation?  Wouldn’t it be tremendous if Jesus could eliminate all poverty from the world, so that everyone could live, not as rich people, but with the basic human dignity that everyone deserves?

Yes, these are things we pray for, wish for, and desire with all our hearts.  But today’s feast of the Body and Blood of Christ takes us beyond wishful thinking.  We celebrate the fact that Jesus is risen and is physically with us, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist.  How shocking it must have been at that Last Supper when Jesus took bread and said, “This is my body;” and when he took wine and said, “This is my blood.”  How could bread and wine become the body and blood of a person?  Yet, we must remember that Jesus is not only a human person but God, and as God, he can accomplish miraculous things.  He told us to say these same words and do these same actions in memory of him, and when we do, he is truly present with us, the living bread come down from heaven.

But there is something even more amazing.  Jesus does not just come to be present with us on the altar, but he allows us sinners and weak people to eat his flesh and drink his blood, so that he can live within us and among us, bringing us all into an intimate communion with him.  It is also a miracle that when we receive the Eucharist, we become what we eat.  We become the Body of Christ, present in the world today.  We have the blood of Christ flowing through our arteries to give us life and through our veins to purify and renew us.  And when we go forth from here, it is not we alone who go but Jesus Christ himself.  He goes to our homes, our schools, our places of work, to the places where we enjoy life and to the places where we carry the burdens of life.

I am sure you are aware, as I am, of people who have been healed of dread diseases and who know for certain that their healing is attributed to the power of prayer and the support of the Christian community, the Body of Christ.  The lives of many people are turned from despair to hope when they hear the Word of God preached to them effectively, or more precisely, witnessed to them, in such a way that the freedom and joy experienced by the followers of Jesus become contagious in their healing power.  Because people in this communion, this Body of Christ, accompany others in their struggles, many bonds have been broken and many demons cast out from the lives of people.  Many married couples, despite their imperfections, stay faithful to their vocation to witness the permanent, faithful, and fruitful commitment of Christ to his beloved Bride, the Church, and thus enable many to nurture beautiful families, where all can learn in a loving environment that only God is the center of the universe, but that we are all loved by him and by one another.  Many people, with the Blood of the living Jesus flowing in their veins, reach out to the poor to bring them hope, not only by feeding and housing them, but by using their gifts and talents to change the cultural, economic, and political realities that are the root causes of the poverty that robs people of their human dignity.  It is because of what we do here that we, who are such weak sinners, have the ability to work miracles in the world in the name of the risen Jesus, and as members of his Body.

This feast reminds us that Jesus is not just a long-ago, far away, once-upon-a-time character from a history book, but a living person who humbles himself to live in all of us who are members of his Body.  The marvels he accomplished 2,000 years ago that we hear about in the Scriptures, are the same marvels he accomplishes today through his beloved people, who are united to him in such a Holy Communion.  So our asking “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Jesus could accomplish this, that, or the other thing?” should turn into a challenge to us so that he can indeed accomplish such marvels through us, his living Body, the Church, fed and nourished always by his living Body and Blood in this most holy sacrament of the Eucharist.