Corpus Christi: the Heart of the Christian Life

Some years ago, I spent a summer teaching in a program called Totus Tuus.  This was a program like VBS that taught children about the beauty of their Catholic faith.  One day, I was talking about the Eucharist to the third graders, and a young girl raised her hand.  She asked: If the Eucharist is truly Jesus, then why aren’t we called to worship, or love Jesus, in the chapel all the time?  Why would we ever leave? Now it’s a funny question, true, but also very profound.  Why do we leave? Why is it, that right after we receive the Eucharist today, we will all leave this church?  Why don’t we just stay and adore our Lord…?

To answer this question, it is important for us to reflect on the experience of receiving Jesus’ precious body and blood in the Holy Eucharist.  Jesus says to us today:  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. This language, “remain in me” is an important theme throughout the Gospel of John.  It points to the closeness, or the intimacy, that Christ desires to have with his disciples; that is, all of us here! So, the Eucharist is truly an encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus is pointing out to us that the Eucharist, is in fact, his presence among us.  He says, he is the bread come down from heaven, the one who has come to give us life.  When the Jewish crowds hear Jesus say this, they grumble and argue.  But then Jesus says those words.. those trigger words that inform us that what he is about to say is really really important.  He says to the crowds with emphasis:  Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood, has eternal life.

All of us can understand that the presence of a friend nourishes us and gives life.” This, my friends in Christ, is what Jesus is accomplishing with us by making himself present to us through the Eucharist.  Think, for example of a close friend who, perhaps you haven’t seen in awhile.  Often times to catch up with this friend it will be over a shared meal together.  And what we realize later, is that it’s our friend’s love and presence in our lives that is real food for us. It’s the experience of friendship that gives us life.  How fitting then it is, then, that the Eucharist is given to us in the context of a meal, truly is an encounter with our Lord. It is a true experience of a friendship that is life-giving. It’s the place where Christ loves us, nourishes our lives, and hears our prayers.  It is an intimate friendship; one not void of reciprocity. Because he is present!

And so, why do we leave after this Mass is over?  Because, as we grow in our relationship with Christ, the Eucharist we receive actually changes us.  “If Jesus is our beloved friend, then we will want to do what he wants and live for him and for his works and promises.  And what does Jesus want? That we conform our lives to Christ by turning away from sin.  That we love people, even our enemies, and do not judge or condemn people, but forgive them.” Jesus wants us to love others as he has loved us. In other words, the love of Jesus that we encounter through the Eucharist moves us outward.  It directs us back out into the world, to those we meet every day in our lives, so that we can share, strengthened by Christ in the Holy Eucharist, God’s love to others. This is why we leave.  Because we experience a love that we must share! And so we hear those words at the end of Mass: “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord”.

Sisters and brothers in Christ, this is why coming together every Sunday is the heart of the Christian life. The Eucharist we celebrate together each week is where our hearts encounter the heart of Jesus Christ.  But then, just like the heartbeat sends blood throughout the body, so does the Eucharist send us out to bring Jesus, the one we have received, into the world. 

May the Eucharist we receive today, be a true encounter of Christ in our lives, and strengthen us to bring him out into the world.


In Christ’s Friendship,

Fr. Stephen

Fidget Spinner? How do we balance our relationship with the Holy Trinity?

“The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals himself. to men and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin” (CCC 234).

Does anyone have a fidget spinner? or, Who knows what this is?   

(Take out fidget spinner and spin it for a moment… explain how much you love these things and how big they became even at the seminary). 

But the fidget spinner, I think can also serve as a metaphor for our own relationship with God.  Because, with this fidget spinner, it is clearly one, but it has three distinct parts, and, when it spins, those three parts need to balance just right so that the spinner can continue to spin.

The same is true for our relationship with God.  We are called to have a balanced relationship with God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  And as we grow in our relationship with each Person of the Trinity, we become more fully aware of God’s ongoing presence in our life.   So, a good question for all of us to reflect on this weekend is this: how is my relationship with God?  More specifically, how is my relationship with the Heavenly Father?  With Jesus Christ?  And, with the Holy Spirit? Is it a balanced relationship, or,  is our relationship with one Person of the Trinity lacking?

When a relationship with one person of the Holy Trinity is lacking, things can fall off the rails; just as the fidget spinner falls off the finger as it loses balance. From the Heavenly Father –  we receive our identity – as his sons and daughters. If our relationship with the Father is lacking then we might forget that we are his beloved children.  (Give ex. of young man and father experiencing a difficult relationship, young man tries to prove his worth to his Father).  Friends we never have to prove ourselves to God.  There is nothing we can do to make Him love us less! We are his sons and daughters.

Through Jesus –  we are justified, saved and given the gift of being called children of God. Jesus is our closest friend. I have called you friends, he says, so that your joy may be complete! If our relationship with Christ is lacking then we might lose sight on what Christ has done for us – that he has saved us.  We might begin to presume God’s love. Salvation came with a price (Jesus’ death) and it calls us to conversion. When we look at that cross, we see the most powerful sign of God’s love for us.  A healthy relationship with Christ, remembers the love freely given on the cross, and the call to allow that love to change our lives – to put on the new self in Christ.

The Holy Spirit – the one who fills us with his love, binds us together in peace and love as God’s holy people… The Spiritual life that lacks a relationship with the Holy Spirit is, I think, that today, we forget about the Holy Spirit presence in our lives. This is a very real struggle for all of us today. Whenever we are experiencing a lack of hope or lack of trust in God, God wants us to know that he is present to us with the Holy Spirit.  We may be afraid, but we always have hope and the love of the Holy Spirit to take us through any struggle (think of the Acts of the Apostles!)

My friends in Christ, this is why we celebrate Trinity Sunday when we do.  We have just completed celebrating the Easter Season, and during that time we commemorate how God has revealed himself to us throughout the ages (CCC 234).  It started way back when, when the Father revealed Himself to the Israelite people.  It continued when Christ was sent to proclaim the Father to the world.  The revelation of God was completed for us when the Holy Spirit was sent among us, to be the very presence of God living in us. God wants to reveal the fullness of himself to each of us.  Today we are invited to pray to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit constantly.

This is Paul’s teaching in his second letter to the Corinthians: The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  When we consider what we do at Mass, all of our prayers are Trinitarian.  Every prayer is addressed to the Father, through the Son and in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

So, this weekend we have been called to reflect on our relationship with the Holy Trinity.  May we seek a balanced relationship with the God.  One where we know that we are all the Heavenly Father’s beloved Children.  One where we know that Christ is both our Savior and Friend.  One where we know that the holy spirit dwells among us to encourage and strengthen us to live in peace, and the love of God.

May the Eucharist we receive today, remind us how precious each of us is to God.


Fr. Stephen