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Bishop's Homily for the Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

February 5, 2023

[Sacred Hearts Church, Lanai City (Eucharistic Revival Catechesis)]

The moon is a beautiful object.  It lights up the night sky and has inspired music and poetry for centuries.  Yet we know that the light of the moon is reflected light.  It is really the sun that shines at night by reflecting its own light from the moon.  So it is with us who are called to be the light of the world.  We are called to bring the light of love where there is hatred, the light of knowledge where there is ignorance, the light of peace where there is discord, and the light of hope where there is despair.  Yet our light is also a reflected light, because it is Christ who is the true light, the true Sun.  His light is reflected to others through us, and we proudly shine that light so that others may give glory to God, the source of light.

We first received the light of Christ in our Baptism, when we were not only immersed in the name of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but we were given a candle lit from the Easter candle, the light of the risen Christ shining over the darkness of death.  But we need to refuel that light constantly, and so we come to the Eucharist every Sunday (at least), and take into ourselves the light that is Christ Jesus himself, so that we may reflect his light in our families, places of work, schools, and communities.  We come to the Eucharist to “taste and see the goodness of the Lord,” so that we can be salt in the world, allowing it to savor the joy of Jesus and his continuing presence with us.

As we reflect on the Eucharist, we are involved in our National Eucharistic Revival, and here in this diocese we have dedicated several Sundays to shine the light on the Eucharist, so that in better understanding it, we may glow more brilliantly with the light of Christ.  Today we focus on the Eucharistic Prayer, the long prayer prayed by the priest during which the miracle of bread and wine becoming the Body and Blood of Christ takes place before our very eyes.

“Eucharist” comes from the Greek and means “thanksgiving,” so in this prayer we “lift up our hearts” and give “thanks and praise to God.”  There are currently ten approved Eucharistic Prayers, each with a slightly different emphasis, but all follow the same basic pattern.

We begin with the dialogue between the priest, who is the sacramental representation of Christ the Head;,  and the people, who are members of the Body of Christ. Then the priest prays the Preface, a prayer directed to God the Father, praising him for one or other of the wonderful works he has done for us in Jesus our Lord.  We listen attentively as the priest prays this prayer, then we join the heavenly choir of angels and saints in singing “Holy, holy, holy.”  The prayer continues with praise to God the Father.  Then we call down the Holy Spirit, as the priest holds his hands, palms down, over the bread and wine in a gesture and prayer called the epiclesis, the calling of the Holy Spirit, because it is God alone who has the power to transform earthly elements into the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Christ.  We continue with the words of institution, recalling what Jesus did at the Last Supper when he took, blessed, broke and gave, saying for the first time those profound words, “This is my Body;” “This is my blood.”  Through the power of the Holy Spirit a real, substantial change takes place, so that we no longer have bread and wine on the altar but the Body and Blood of Christ himself.  The priest reminds us of Jesus’ words, “Do this in remembrance of me,” and we fulfill that very command by what we do here.  We respond to this miracle by acclaiming our faith in the Memorial Acclamation.

The priest then continues with a memorial of the death and resurrection of Jesus, which are made present in this current liturgy.  Until now, we have only had bread and wine to offer, but now we have a spotless victim, the Lamb of God, Jesus himself, to offer; and so the priest prays the prayer of offering.  But we have also placed ourselves on the altar in a very real way, and so now the priest prays a second epiclesis, calling down the Holy Spirit upon the sacred assembly, so that united to our Head, we too may be transformed into the Body of Christ.  Jesus came, of course, to save the world from sin, and so our prayer turns to intercessions for the Church, the world, the living and the dead.  We recall our communion with believers throughout the world and with those who are in heaven, whether saints or angels, as we conclude the Eucharistic Prayer with the doxology, which means “right praise.”  The priest (and deacon, if present) raise the Body and Blood of Christ, and the priest says, “Through him, and with him, and in him, O God almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, forever and ever.”  The sacred assembly responds with a great “Amen,” a word that means “yes!” or “so be it!”, or “I believe!”

It is our hope that when we better understand what we are doing here and its profound meaning, we will be better able to shine the light of Christ on all we meet, so that it may enlighten every dark place of humanity.  We remember that life-giving sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, so that he may continue to reflect his light on all the world through us who are called into intimate and holy communion with him and with one another.