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Homilies - Bishop Brendan Leahy

Mass on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi 2018 - St. Michael's Church, Limerick


Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi. The origin of the Feast Day goes back to a woman from Belgium St. Juliana of Mont Cornillon in the thirteenth century who persuaded the local Bishop who then became Pope to set up this special day.

There is such a devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist among Catholics all over the world. It is at the heart of our faith. It is, after all, the great gift Jesus left us the night before he died. It’s a gift of love, the love that has a measure – to lay down your life for your friends.

We’ve heard the details of the Last Supper in the Gospel. There is so much that could be said. Let’s note three things.

The Eucharist is a celebration of God’s covenant with us. He has made a promise to Moses, that is taken up by Jesus and transformed into his promise: I will be with you always, I have laid down my life for us; I am Risen always alongside you to free you and support you. Perhaps we don’t always think enough of this aspect of Mass. Each time we come to Mass we renew a pact, a Covenant with God. God is always faithful. And he wants us to be happy – that’s why he offers us his words, the Bible, his commandments, his code of living for happiness.

The second point. The Eucharist is food. It is Bread from Heaven. Just as we need food for our physical health along the journey, the Eucharist is spiritual food for our spiritual life. It strengthens us, unites us to God and to one another, it fills us deep down in a way nothing else can.

A third point. The Eucharist is a medicine. By his death on the Cross, Jesus saved us and opened up the new life of heaven for us. One of the early saint writers of the Church wrote, The Eucharist is the medicine of immortality. It puts into us already now the life of love that we hope one day to live for ever in heaven. It prepares us for that day giving us a medicine that heals. But it heals also like a fire that burns away anything that is selfish or impure within us.

A young boy, who’d recently received his first Communion, once asked Pope Benedict how Jesus was really present in the Eucharist when ‘I can’t even see him.’ The pope smiled and explained how there were lots of important things that exist even though they can’t be seen. For example, electricity is invisible, but people know it’s there because ‘we see the light’ it produces—people can see its effects. And just as people can’t see Jesus with their eyes, they can see him through what he affects. ‘We see that where Jesus is, people change, they become better,’ he said.

That’s the invitation to us today – to let the Eucharist have an effect in our lives, to let it change us so that we can go out transformed, to bring the Eucharist to others, not just in terms of bringing Holy Communion, but rather by bringing ourselves transformed by the logic of love that is behind the Eucharist, making us people of love who, like Jesus, know who to lay down their lives for others.