Homilies

Corpus Christi
Deut. 8:2-3,14-16; 1 Cor 10:16-17: Gospel of John 6: 51-58
St Mother Teresa’s Inspiration on the Eucharist

Preached by Msgr Philip Heng, SJ at St Joseph's Church, Victoria Street – Singapore
on 18 June 2017

Today, we gathered to celebrate the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  I would like to begin by explaining the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, which we cannot take for granted, and more so, when this is one of the main differences between the Catholic Christian Church and other Protestant Churches.

At Mass, when the priest, presiding at the Mass calls upon the Holy Spirit, at the epiclesis, to come upon the bread and wine, and then says the words of consecration, “This is My Body, this is My Blood”, in persona Christi, in the person of Christ, the bread and wine is immediately and fully transformed into the Real Flesh and Blood of Jesus, even though externally, and in appearance there are no visible changes.  In other words, the bread and wine has in its essence become fully the Body and Blood of Jesus Himself; physically and fully present for us, to receive at Holy Communion.  The Holy Communion as the “holy” union; the intimate union with Jesus, as in today’s Gospel, Jesus clearly proclaims, “For My Flesh is real food and My Blood is real drink.  He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood live in Me and I live in him.”

Likewise, when couple stands before a priest, their witnesses and each of them take their marriage vows and says, “I so and so, take you, so and so, to be my wife/husband.  I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.  I will love you and honour you all the days of my life”; upon professing these married vows, what do you think happens?  Without any doubt, the couple is immediately transformed, by the power of the Holy Spirit into the husband and wife for each other.  In other words, they have freely bound themselves into an indissoluble bond, and they no longer exist as separate individuals; in essence, they are transformed into the “one and inseparable body, as husband and wife, in the eyes of God, the church, and also of the law of the country, even though externally and physically, there are no changes between the bride and the groom; their appearances remain the same.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s Gospel of St John, Jesus proclaims to the Jews, “I am the Living Bread, which has come down from heaven.  Anyone who eats the Bread will live for ever; and the Bread that I shall give is My Flesh, for the life of the world . . . and I shall raise him up on the last day. . .   As such, today’s celebration of the solemnity of Corpus Christi, is for us Catholic Christians rightly a celebration of deep gratitude to God our Father, who in His Love and Providence have given us the divine Gift of The Body and Blood of His Son, in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, that offers us Eternal Life. 

For our reflection on the Eucharist, I would like to share the thoughts and experiences of St Mother Teresa with us, as her words of wisdom and spiritual insights are deeply profound and inspiring; indeed beyond what I can ever express.  And so, these are what St Mother Teresa has to share with us today on the Eucharist.

To many Mother Teresa was a little woman with tireless energy.  She was a woman of joy, of tender compassion and of love.  Many of us would like to ask, “Where did Mother Teresa and her sisters find the energy and the strength, joy and love to serve the poorest of the poor, with such compassionate love?   The answer for Mother Teresa is simple and clear: she would say, “It is finding Jesus in the Eucharist.”  “In the Eucharist, and at Holy Communion . . . Jesus has made Himself the Bread of Life to give us life.  Night and day, He is there for us.  Without the Eucharist we are nothing, but with the Eucharist - the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus - we have everything.   I know I would not be able to work one week, if it were not for that continual force coming from Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament,"  This was the secret of Mother Teresa’s source of spiritual strength and inspiration; the spending of hours before the Blessed Sacrament which is present in all of our Catholic Churches.   

The Flesh of the Lord . . . becomes alive in us through receiving and adoring His Body and Blood.  And through the Eucharist, we are able to care for the unborn, poor, handicapped, elderly, and dying.   Indeed, Mother Teresa was one of the first people to care for AIDS patients with tenderness and love . . . she met, and reached out to those who no one else wanted to touch. Her love was limitless and without bounds.  Through her total surrender to Jesus in the Eucharist, Jesus’ love was made present throughout the world, and in the lives of every person she met, every person she touched and cared for with Jesus’ Compassionate Love.

Mother Teresa says, "In each of our lives Jesus comes as the Bread of Life - to be eaten, to be consumed by us. This is how He loves us. Then after allowing us to consume Him, Jesus comes into our human life with the face of the hungry, hoping to be fed with the Bread of our life that we have received within us.  We are then called to be Jesus’ loving hearts and hands and reach out to others in our service of their needs and suffering; and in most cases, not for any wrong or evil that they have done, but simply because they are born into the unfortunate situation of poverty and misery of society.  And so, in loving and serving, we prove that we have been created in the likeness of God, for God is Love and when we love we mirror who God is to others.  This is what Jesus meant when He said, "Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect."

Mother Teresa said, that when "People ask me, 'What will convert America and save the world?'  My answer is prayer.  What we need is for every parish to come before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in Holy Hours of prayer."  If you really want to grow in love, come back to the Eucharist, come back to that adoration. "To be alone with Jesus in adoration and intimate union with Him is the Greatest Gift of Love - the tender love of Our Father in Heaven."  "The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time you will spend on earth. Each moment that you spend with Jesus will deepen your union with Him and make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in Heaven, and will help bring about everlasting peace on earth,"

Indeed, each time we look upon Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, He raises us up into deeper union with Himself, opens up the floodgates of His merciful love to the whole world, and brings us closer to the day of His final victory "where every knee will bend and proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord". "The reign of God is already in your midst." The coming of Jesus to us in the Eucharist is assurance of His promise of final victory: "Behold, I come to make all things new.”

"Put your sins in the chalice for the precious blood to wash away.  One drop is capable of washing away the sins of the world. "The Eucharist is connected with the Passion. If Jesus had not established the Eucharist we would have forgotten the Crucifixion. It would have faded into the past and we would have forgotten that Jesus loved us. There is a saying that to be far away from the eyes is to be far away from the heart. To make sure that we do not forget, Jesus gave us the Eucharist as a memorial of His Love,"

"Like Mary, let us be full of zeal to go in haste to give Jesus to others. She was full of grace when, at the annunciation, she received Jesus, in Her womb.  Like Mary, we too receive the same Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, at Holy Communion during Mass.  And so, like Mary may we too, go in haste to share Him with our sisters and brothers who are the anawim; the poor, the marginalised, the down and out, the sick, the dying, the lepers, the unwanted, and the unloved.  By this we make Jesus present in the world today."

"When you look at the Crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you then, when He Suffered on Calvary.  But, when you look at the Sacred Host you understand how much Jesus loves you now,"

We cannot separate our lives from the Eucharist; the moment we do, something breaks within us.  The Eucharist involves more than just receiving; it also involves satisfying the hunger that Christ has for us, who always say to us, “Come to me,”. Jesus longs to meet us, and to be with us; nowhere does Jesus in the Gospel say: "Go away;" on the contrary, He always says, "Come to Me."

Our lives must be woven around the Eucharist. Ask Jesus to be with you, to work with you that you may be able to pray the work. You must really be sure that you have received Jesus. After that, you cannot give your tongue, your thoughts, or your heart to bitterness.

And so, my brothers and sisters in Christ, as I conclude, we can see from St Mother Teresa’s words of inspiration and wisdom that her daily hours of contemplation in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, and her deep love for Jesus in the Eucharist, have made her bring Jesus’ Compassionate Love to the world: especially the sick, the dying, the unwanted, and the poorest of the poor in society.  And in so doing, given the desperate and suffering people the assurance that God is with them and has not abandoned them; that indeed Jesus is their hope for their living and their meaning in their perseverance daily.

We each have our different challenges in our lives.  We are all in need of Jesus, who also longs to come to us in the Eucharist.  As we are blessed to be here, to participate in this Eucharist and have the opportunity to receive the gift of Jesus through the real Flesh and real Blood at Holy Communion, may we also like St Mother Teresa have the wisdom to share the Jesus of the Eucharist with those whom God would place in our lives, so that they too will come to value the Eucharist and return to the practice of the faith, and contribute to the renewal of the Church.

(Ref: adapted from: http://www.acfp2000.com/Saints/Saints.html)


Fr Philip Heng,S.J.

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