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Bishop's Homily for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

January 15, 2023

[Immaculate Conception Church, Lihue (Eucharistic Revival Catechesis)]

[Pointing to the congregation]  “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”  You might be asking yourself, “Where?”  “Has some miracle happened that Jesus is actually here today?”  I would answer, “Yes, the miracle of the Eucharist is happening over again, and you are gathered here with a dignity more profound than you might imagine!”

As we continue with our Eucharistic catechesis throughout the diocese in this time of the Eucharistic Revival being celebrated in the United States, we focus today upon the Introductory Rites of the Mass.  But first it needs to be said that the real purpose of the celebration of the Eucharist is so that we can physically encounter the risen Christ.  It is here above all that Jesus fulfills his promise that he would be with us always, even to the end of the world.  But Jesus is not going to walk through the door with long, flowing robes.  He is truly present now in a new and different way.

When we were baptized, we were incorporated into Christ, that is, made members of his Body, which is the Church.  He poured out the Holy Spirit upon us in Confirmation, just as it was poured out upon him at his Baptism in the Jordan River.  So we can truly look at this congregation and say, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

The first thing we need for the celebration of the Eucharist is people – people who have been soaked in the name of God himself, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in their Baptism.  Your presence here is essential, because you are now members of the Body of Christ.  But it is important to remember that we do not make ourselves members of Christ’s Body, but rather that he, the Head of the Body, calls us into being and sustains us in who we are.  Therefore, another essential element of the celebration of the Eucharist is the priest, who is ordained to sacramentally represent Christ himself, the Head of the Body.  This is why the priest heads or leads the celebration, interacting as Bridegroom with Bride as Jesus himself interacts with us.  And so the people of God gather with the priest of God.

Jesus came into the world to give perfect praise and worship to the Father in the love of the Holy Spirit.  And so we gather as the Body of Christ, giving praise in our Entrance Hymn.  This is not just something we should listen to, but engage in singing, because we are all members of the priestly people.  The priest, the deacon (who is the sacramental reminder of Christ the servant), and the other ministers enter the assembly and take their places, after reverencing the altar, which symbolized Christ, the true sacrifice offered to the Father.

Then we recall simply but amazingly that we were baptized in the name of God who sent Jesus to be the Lamb of sacrifice who died on the cross.  So we make the Sign of the Cross, saying “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  Then there is a greeting between priest and people, between the Head and the Body of Christ, much like the apostolic greeting we heard today in Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians.  Then the priest may say a few words about the focus of this particular Mass.  Next, we remember that we are not worthy to be members of the Body of Christ, because all of us – priest and people – are sinners.  But we come before the Lord in penitence, confessing our sinfulness and letting the Lamb of God take away our sins, so that we can be pure and clean as we exercise our priestly ministry as members of the Body of Christ.

Since we are primarily here to praise God, on Sundays and Solemnities (except during Advent and Lent), we sing “Glory to God in the highest,” beginning this ancient hymn of praise as the angels did when they appeared to the shepherds in Bethlehem to announce the birth of Jesus.

Then, having joined together in our great diversity as one Body in Christ, the priest collects our prayers, and offers a prayer to God the Father in the name of the entire Body, to which all respond “Amen,” which is “So be it!”

Now we are ready for an even deeper encounter with Jesus as he speaks to us in the Word of God and as he makes himself physically present in the bread and wine that will become his actual Body and Blood.  We will speak more extensively of these in the weeks to come.

So, yes, when we gather for the Eucharist, we first remember who we are – not because of our own choosing or our own merits, but because Christ himself has called us into intimate communion with him.  When we look at this whole assembly, therefore, and say, “Behold, the Lamb of God,” don’t look for a man in long flowing robes, but open your eyes of faith to see that Jesus makes himself truly present in this Body which he loves like a Bridegroom loves his Bride.