Sunday, June 26, 2011

Corpus Chirsti Sunday

On this celebration of Corpus Christi, I decided to tell you the story of a saint. Not one of the “Big ones” like Francis of Assisi or Therese de Lesieux. The Saint I’m talking about is hardly known. The reason why I’m talking about her today is because of a conversation she had with a deacon, about 800 years ago, a conversation that unknown to both of them, was going to change the history of the Church forever. Her name is St Juliana of Liege.
She was born in the year 1193. When she was 18 years old St Juliana began having mystical experiences in which Jesus visited her, and it was these private revelations that made her dedicate her life to the propagation of devotions to the Blessed Sacrament.
Anyone reading the stories of St Juliana’s visions, would dismiss them as just one more story from just one more virtually unknown medieval Nun, except for the fact that one day, by chance, a Deacon named James Pantaleon, a young theologian of his time, decided to visit Juliana in her convent. During this visit she revealed to Deacon James that in one of her visions Jesus had specifically requested to have one day of the year dedicated to the exaltation of the Eucharist. The young deacon was so impressed with Juliana’s sincerity that he left her convinced she was telling the truth.
What neither of them could have known was that, with time this same deacon became a leading medieval theologian, which allowed him to advance in the ranks of the church leadership until in the year 1261 Deacon James Panteleon, was elected Pope Urban IV. Now Urban never forgot his encounter with St Juliana, and the story of her visions, and in the year 1264 just a few months before his own death declared the feast of Corpus Christy a universal feast of the Church.
And since then, answering to the desires of Jesus expressed in the private revelations of an obscure visionary, every year the Church takes this day to reflect on the mystery of the Eucharist, on the mystery that is, Jesus Christ resurrected and glorified body, blood, soul and divinity making himself present on the altar and becoming food and drink to satisfy our thirst and hunger.
Like I said, all this happened in medieval times, 800 years ago; with time the Church came to realize that the miracle of the Body and Blood of our Lord is the one fundamental truth of our belief. It is the one truth by which The Catholic Church stands or falls, to the point that the Second Vatican council simply calls the Eucharist the “Source and summit of our faith”.
But what is the meaning of this to us? Just think about it for a second, if what we had been doing and proclaiming since the revelations to St Juliana, in fact since the times of the apostles… if this is somehow not true then every time we treat the bread and the wine as if it is our God, every time we kneel, genuflect, pray to it, offer our adoration to it, offer it to the Father as a victim for our sins, we are committing a terrible blasphemy.
On the other hand… if we are right, if the words of Jesus in the gospel are in fact true when he says “I am the living bread that came down from heaven… Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you will not have life within you…For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” If Jesus truly meant all this we read in the Gospel of John today, then every time we come to mass we are witnessing the greatest miracle of all times. In every mass the God of the universe enters His creation, to bring us closer to Him, and every time we receive communion, when we eat and drink his body and blood we are making Him part of our bodies, part of our DNA, part of who we are.
Simply put my brothers and sisters Corpus Christi Sunday is a day to reflect on where are stand; Is the one day of the year in which Jesus challenges us directly. What do we truly believe? Do we believe in Jesus own words or is this teaching to hard for us? Do we believe it is truly Him who we receive in communion? This is a day to look within ourselves and think hard if I truly believe that God loves me so much and that he is so powerful that in an incredible act of love he becomes for me, bread and wine, so that He can be as close to me as it is humanly possible in this side of heaven.
This is a day for us to examine what we think is true. Because if we believe that Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist it would make sense for us to spend hours, days prostrated in adoration thanking him for all the gifts he has bestowed in us? If we truly believed he is present in every mass it would make sense for us never allow anything, not sports event, no travel team, no business or vacation trip to keeping us from attending mass on Sundays.
If we believed Jesus is present in the Eucharist, every time we had a problem, or become scared, or tired or confused; this place right here in front of the Tabernacle would be the first place in which we would look for consolation, not on friends, not on food, not on sex, not on therapists, but right here were he can see us in all our sinfulness and brokenness, and we can see him in all his humility.
If we truly believed Jesus words, we would be like St Juliana and the Eucharist would become our number one priority in life not only at church but at home, in school, at camp; every were we go and everything we say and do would be pointing towards making sure we are bringing glory and honor to Jesus Christ, our Lord and savior.
Blessed be Jesus in the most holy sacrifice of the altar.