As our Year of the Eucharist comes to a close, it is a perfect transition to our Pastoral Planning. May this Solemnity of the Holy Body and Blood of Christ and the grace of this Year of the Eucharist grant us the grace to proclaim Christ to the world, worthily and well.

You can find the video and homily from today’s Mass below.

Live the faith!

With our celebration of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ this weekend, our Year of the Eucharist comes to a close. At the same time, we have initiated a new phase of pastoral planning which invites everyone to renew their relationship with Jesus Christ and to meaningfully embrace his mission.

The goal for each of these moments is to help us become a vibrant community of faith, alive in the person of Jesus Christ, to become a people of faith who are better equipped to carry Christ to others and to bring others to Christ. 

As I was preparing the Pastoral Letter on the Eucharist, The Work of Redemption, and considering this Year of the Eucharist, there was no way to know a global pandemic was about to seriously alter life as we know it! But, trusting in God’s Providence, we moved ahead in faith hoping for fruits unknown and unseen.

One thing we can all agree on is the need for the Church in all her members to be life-giving, and this always happens when we humbly allow ourselves to be more fully conformed to the person of Jesus Christ.

On this Solemnity of the Holy Body and Blood of Christ, let us take a close look at the person of Jesus.

In today’s Gospel ‘the table is set’ so to speak … It is the day the Passover lamb is sacrificed. Jesus sends two of his disciples to prepare the Passover meal. They ask Jesus: “Where do you want us to go to prepare for you to eat the Passover?”

The Passover lamb as we know was to recall the Passover in Egypt so the roasted flesh to feed the Israelite people as nourishment for impending and sudden flight from captivity in Egypt. The blood of the Lamb was to mark their homes saving them from the death that would be visited upon the first born of the Egyptians.

Thus, Jesus as THE Passover Lamb is true food for the journey of faith and at the same time the means of salvation. This is the meal Jesus celebrates with his disciples, giving it the fullness of meaning by transforming it into the new and eternal covenant. This single moment in history, this meal Jesus shared with his disciples, has ever since spilled forth into history the perfect love of God. Jesus who sent disciples to prepare the Passover before his pending passion and death later sends them forth after his Resurrection to continually celebrate this meal as a witness to his life-giving passion, death and resurrection.

The true power of the Eucharist, the reason it is the source and summit of the life and worship of the Church is the Paschal Mystery. The Passover meal became the Eucharist, the new and eternal covenant precisely because Jesus combined both mercy and sacrifice in his own person through his passion, death and resurrection. His Body has become true food and his blood true drink.

Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, as the Redeemer, as the Risen Lord, as the Font of Life for all who believe.

In the Book of Exodus, our first reading this evening, the people tell Moses: “We will do everything the Lord has told us.” No doubt, we have said the same thing with all good intention and firm resolve. And yet, in our humanity, we each know the challenge it entails, and the sinful failures that plague us. Such earnest and good intentions are required for our growth in holiness, but we must always humbly acknowledge our need for a savior and seek his mercy. The sinful failures of humanity are precisely why the Son of God came into the world to show us and share with us God’s perfect love.

The Pharisees once asked Jesus’ disciples: “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” I often think Jesus could have easily said in response: “It is the only option I have.” But, instead, he said: “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:11-13)

My friends, as our Year of the Eucharist concludes, I invite all of us to humbly and prayerfully reflect upon our identity as sinners – a common denominator. At the same time, and even more, we do well to give thanks – especially through each celebration of the Eucharist – that we are redeemed sinners by the mercy, sacrifice and love of Jesus Christ.

As we proceed with our pastoral planning, let us renew our life in Christ by conscious awareness of his life in us, and his continually sending us into the world to prepare the Passover meal for him, for others. (see Mark 14:13)

As followers of Jesus, journeying in faith through this world, we can and will grow weary. But in the Eucharist Jesus renews and refreshes us and continually conforms us to himself. We must not allow the many challenges we face to harden our hearts towards others, only capable of seeing their shortcomings and sinfulness as if we are somehow above them or better than them. Nor should we become crusty in our own narrow vision, incapable of seeing all that God is still trying to accomplish in and through us, lest we become like the old wineskins incapable of carrying the fresh new wine. (Matthew 9:17)

Let us beg God to renew us in the life of the Risen Christ. Let us become new wineskins capable of carrying the precious gift of Christ within us. Recall the words of Jesus: Matthew 9:17 “People do not put new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”

As members of the Body of Christ, we come to the Church, where the bread that is served as the Body of Christ nourishes us to continually live in the world as witnesses to Christ. We come to the Church where the wine poured out as the Blood of Christ is always fresh and new, and to a certain extent, is meant to ‘burst’ any effort on our part to become set in our ways. Rather, this ‘new wine’ of the Blood of Christ is meant to preserve us in his life and for his mission.

During Mass, before the Gospel is proclaimed, the deacon asks the priest or bishop for a blessing.

“May the Lord be in your heart and on your lips, that you may proclaim his Gospel worthily and well.”

May the grace of this Year of the Eucharist and this time of Pastoral Planning provide us the grace to live in the world as witnesses to Christ, who proclaim Christ to others worthily and well!