This was one I really enjoyed doing – it seemed to be a moment to refute the “it’s all about us” mentaility that seems so pervasive in so many places today (but thankfully NOT at my parish – they very much seem to hunger for these type of homilies if their comments to me are any indication.)
The readings for this Sunday are Ex 24:3-8; Heb 9:11-15; Mk 14:12-16, 22-26.
“Behold, behold the wood of the cross, on which was hung our salvation.”
We can feel the hard, rough wooden surface . . .
The weight of the heavy object . . .
The smell of the pine wood that the true cross was traditionally believed to have been made from . . .
. . . and the sickly, metallic smell of human blood, mixed with the dust of the road on the Via Dolorosa.
These are the realities, unpleasant though they are, that are brought to mind when we think of Christ’s passion . . .
. . . and these are things that we remember today.
The famous song so ironically says “WERE YOU THERE WHEN THEY CRUCIFIED MY LORD?”
I say “ironically” because WE WERE THERE and WE ARE THERE.
AND WE ARE ABOUT TO BE THERE AGAIN IN JUST A FEW MOMENTS.
When we knell before the altar during the consecration of the Eucharist – and make no mistake kneeling is very much how our posture should be if at all possible – we are kneeling in the dirt at the top of Calvary – of Golgotha, the Place of the Skull – at the foot of the cross, with Our Lord, JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD upon it!
When we hear the words of institution that Father will speak in a few minutes . . .
WE ARE THERE on that windswept hill long, long ago . . .
Make no mistake, what we do at the Altar at every mass is NOT A symbol . . .
It is NOT a retelling or a remembrance . . .
IT IS the ONE and ONLY sacrifice of Calvary!
WE ARE THERE WITH CHRIST.
The sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist IS the ONE and ONLY sacrifice of Calvary celebrated in an UNBLOODY manner right here, right now, and every day all over the world.
The mystery of the Sacrament is that it UNITES us in TIME and in SPACE with that MOMENT.
And that sacrifice is what we celebrate here today especially – on the Feast of Corpus Christi.
Oddly enough, what we CELBRATE is a Crucifixion – a MURDER in fact, for that is, of course, what it actually was.
(The deliberate killing of the innocent is ALWAYS murder, by the way, no matter what you may have heard otherwise.)
We actually CELEBRATE the nails through his palms . . .
The thorns on his head . . .
The burning pain of his back where he was scourged . . .
We FEEL the thunderstorm and the pouring rain just like the Blessed Mother and St. John did – when the heavens opened up and nature raged forth in grief and sorrow that dark, dark afternoon so long ago.
WE MOST DEFINITLEY SEE the red blood and the water that bursts forth when the lance was thrust into his side.
Indeed, I can smell that blood every time I hold the chalice – every time that wine passes near my nose, I remember the smell of the blood on
ALL THIS WE CELEBRATE TODAY.
Are we morbid, we Christians? Are we crazy?
Many throughout the centuries have thought so – Pliny the Younger was a Roman governor in the early 2nd century AD who wrote that we Christians were absolutely CRAZY – he called us cannibals.
He might understand the concept of a remembrance or a memorial – but to CELBRATE DEATH?
WE EAT AND DRINK FLESH AND BLOOD, don’t we?
That’s what we do every time we gather here for mass, isn’t it?
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. We celebrate BOTH the gift of the sacrament of the Eucharist he gave us on Holy Thursday AND what that Gift really was – Christ’s TRUE body and TRUE blood, shed for US ALL – that we might live.
We no longer offer animal sacrifices to the Lord – we no longer pour blood on our altars nor sprinkle the blood all over the people like we heard in the reading from the book of Exodus.
All that has changed with Christ – we now have ONE VICTIM and ONE PRIEST and they are the same person.
Jesus Christ himself is our priest AND our victim.
In a few minutes, when Father Jim stands at the altar and offers the sacrifice of Calvary he is not doing it as HIMSELF – it is CHRIST offering it, just as he did 2000 years ago.
In most of my homilies, I usually try and offer a few words of how we can take the words of the Gospel or the teachings of the Church and how we should apply them to our daily lives, but today – I’m NOT going to do that.
TODAY – it’s not going to be about US.
TODAY, it’s going to be about HIM – and him alone!
TODAY – we need to remember just what it was that HE DID – something he did do FOR US – upon that heavy wooden cross at the Place of the Skull 2000 years ago.
We can talk about just what exactly that all meant, redemption and salvation and all that which was GAINED for us ANOTHER DAY.
TODAY – we must meditate and remember upon just WHAT it was he did for us – HE GAVE UP HIMSELF, and all that he was – for US.
So when we fall on our knees at Calvary here in a few moments – and every time we go to mass – we need to remember what he did and utter a breath of thanks to him for it – for both the SACRAMENT and the SACRIFICE that he gave us.
For as we say IN JUST A FEW MOMENTS:
“When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death Lord Jesus, until you come in Glory!”