Archive for May, 2008

Proclaiming the Real Presence

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

 May 25, 2008

Corpus Christi

Dt 8: 2-3, 14b-16a; 1 Cor 10: 16-17; John 6: 51-58 

Dc. Larry Brockman

Over 700 years ago, something strange happened near Krakow, Poland.   For 3 nights, a bright, pulsing flood of light was seen for miles shining out of a swamp near a small church.   Today, we wouldn’t think anything of it- just a floodlight.   But there were no floodlights in the 14th century, and the people were scared.   After 3 days of praying and fasting, the Bishop led a procession into the swamp. They found the source of the light. They found a monstrance with consecrated hosts in it. The monstrance had been stolen from the small church by thieves for its gold, but it was discarded when they found out it was not real gold.  It was a miracle attributed to the Eucharist.  So, the Bishop built the Church of Corpus Christi there- the feast we celebrate today. 

This is but one of a string of documented Eucharistic miracles recorded over 20 centuries.   Some of these miracles include actual physical evidence that the host or wine was turned to real flesh and real blood:  hosts that have begun to bleed; hosts that have turned into flesh;   and hosts that have been miraculously preserved in the midst of devastating fires.  Some of this evidence is on display in Italy today.  Some of you have visited these places and know that what I say is true.   But like some of the people who actually saw the miracles Jesus worked,  there is still doubt- doubt, skepticism, and cynicism about the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

Now, in the wake of Pope Benedict’s visit to the United States in which he encouraged us to dialog with other Christians; and in this year of Evangelization, when we are encouraged to help others to embrace our faith, it is especially important for you to understand what it means to be a Catholic.  

You need that so that you can defend your faith, and spread it.   That’s what it means to evangelize.   You have heard it said that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian Faith.  The Catechism puts it very well:  “In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist, the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ    And, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained” (#1374).  The Real Presence in the Eucharist is one of the main areas that defines what it means to be a Catholic.  It’s one of those things that makes us Catholics so different from other Christians   because they have the Bible- the Word of God; but we have the Bible AND the Eucharist, and that makes a big difference.     

How can you make that difference evident in our society?   First, you need to understand that it is a mystery; then you need to believe in that mystery; and finally you need to live like that mystery has meaning.  That’s one way you can fulfill your role as an evangelizer.

Did you know that the root meaning of the word “Sacrament” is “mystery”?   Yes, that is what the Eucharist is- a sacrament, which is by definition, a mystery.  In this modernistic era that we live in, that is a hard pill for people to swallow.   We are taught that natural processes are the only things that really can be.   Everything has an explanation- we just have to study it long enough to unravel the explanation.  And so, society tells us that miracles and mysteries can be solved by science. And yet, as scientists have found, the ultimate explanations that explain the mysteries they solve- like DNA chains in Biology or the origin of the Big Bang-   Lead to another layer of yet unsolved mysteries.  So they keep plugging along in an endless chain of discovery. But consider this: If a mystery is solved, it is no longer a mystery.  The Eucharist simply is, and always will be, a mystery.  That’s why it is a Sacrament. 

Second, you have to believe in the mystery of the Eucharist.  Believing means accepting things in your heart that you cannot explain- it’s what we call our faith.  Faith is believing in things without proof.  I can think of no better reason to believe in the real presence then the fact that Jesus told us so.  No less than 6 SIX times in just seven verses, Jesus says that his flesh is real food and his blood is real drink in today’s Gospel.  How does this miracle happen, the Real Presence in the Eucharist?   It happens at consecration during Mass,   When the Priest acts in the name of Jesus Christ to do, in remembrance of what Jesus did at the Last Supper.  Jesus said “This is my body”, and “This is my blood”.  He didn’t say it was a symbol; the Eucharist is not a symbol- that is too shallow.  It is the actual incarnation of God become man, Jesus.  And it is there for all of us over all time, not just for those who knew him 2000 years ago.  It is food from heaven, a food just as real as the manna talked about in the first reading.  We can see and feel and taste it.  That’s what we need, not something symbolic of a spiritual presence; but rather, a real presence physically that brings with it spiritual gifts which we call God’s grace.  Grace is what we all need to live out our call to be like Jesus.  Instead of nourishment in a conventional earthly sense for our bodies, like the manna of the Old Testament, it is a nourishment of our whole selves- if you believe, really believe in the power of the Eucharist.  

There are many ways you can demonstrate you really believe.  One way is reverence- a reverence that broadcasts a proper attitude- little things like proper dress, respectful silence, and attention when you receive.  A second way is joyful participation- participating in the singing and procession, and participation in perpetual adoration.  It’s that participation that Paul addresses when he asks the rhetorical questions in the second reading.  And a third way is consistent testimony with conviction to all who ask you about your faith.  All of you have the opportunity to do that- to give testimony.  Instead of a smile and silence, tell them you believe and why.  Jesus tells us that all are saved who believe in him and don’t deny him.   As a Catholic, you have a special gift among Christians. You have Jesus with you each time you receive the Eucharist.  Don’t deny Him, proclaim Him as a member of the Body of Christ.  


Sunday, May 4th, 2008

  May 4, 2008


Acts 1: 1-11; Eph 1: 17-23; Math 28: 16-20 

Dc. Larry Brockman

A year of Evangelization- That’s what Bishop Wenski has declared as the theme For our Diocesan 40th Anniversary celebration.  Are you ready, Or are you going to miss that train? That train comes Thursday, May 8th and continues on Through Saturday evening, May 10th At the Orange County Convention Center When the Diocese is hosting a Festival of Faith. You probably have seen the TV and billboard adds; And maybe you looked at the brochure sent to all of you in the mail.  It describes all the events- performances by Adult and Children’s Choirs, top notch speakers on a variety of Faith topics, and magnificent Liturgies- one for the opening; one celebrating Marriage, and one celebrating the Youth.  There are plenty of Parish and organization displays to inform you on what’s going on in ministry.  But what does it all mean- this emphasis on Faith and Evangelizing, and why participate?

Each year, the church reenacts our salvation journey from the expectation of our Redeemer- Advent through the birth of God-made-Man- Christmas; into the Lenten period of Penance and Fasting; culminating in Holy Week, and the Death and Resurrection of Jesus.  This is followed by the joyful Resurrection of Jesus- Easter; and finally, the period after arrival of the Holy Spirit- Pentecost, a period in which we are reminded how we are to orient our lives to the will of God.  These Church seasons are structured so we don’t forget the story of our salvation in the humdrum of our lives.  And so we remember our baptismal promise to evangelize.  Evangelization means we spread our Faith, the Good News of Jesus Christ in word and deed.  That is God’s will for all of us, that we spread the good news of Christianity by our example.

As we come to the close of the Easter Season, we are at a high point in that church cycle. We are still experiencing the incredible joy that comes with knowing that we have been saved, and will experience Eternal Life- IF, if we follow Jesus and his commandments.

Today’s Gospel says it very clearly: “Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations”.  That’s you- the Apostles are told to make disciples of you; and then Jesus says: “Teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and behold, I am with you always”.  So, each of you is made a disciple, an evangelizer, at Baptism.  But have you followed through on that promise?

You know, it’s ironic, but all of us are very much like the Apostles.  We have two hang ups in Evangelizing.  First, there is doubt.  Today’s Gospel tells us that  “When they saw him, they worshiped him, but they doubted”.  Imagine that.  These are people who actually saw the horrors of the crucifixion and then the unbelievable Resurrection.  But the Gospel says that even they still doubted.  Likewise, even though we say we believe, we still hold back from full belief- perhaps a lack of belief in the real presence; or a lack in trust that God will provide for us in difficult times; and maybe we lack belief that we can evangelize. 

Second, we keep looking for some other purpose in life besides fulfilling our Baptismal promise.  In the reading from Acts, Jesus tells his Apostles that they will soon be Baptized with God’s spirit.  That will give them the strength to speak of the Kingdom of God, and evangelize.  But right after telling them this, what do the Apostles ask him?  They ask Him if he is going to restore Israel now.  As if restoration of the earthly kingdom is the kingdom of God.

They just didn’t get it.  They didn’t understand their call to live their life according to Jesus Commandments with the help of the Holy Spirit.  How about you?  Is your focus is on how you want things to be, or is it on living according to Jesus Commandments and living God’s will for you?

In just a week we will celebrate Pentecost.  Pentecost symbolizes the arrival of God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, into our lives.  Paul talks about the gift of the spirit this morning.  It is a spirit of wisdom and revelation.  That’s what you need to hear the real call of God in your lives- a spirit of wisdom and revelation; a spirit of discernment of God’s will for you.  How appropriate that Pentecost caps off our Festival of Faith because this week, in the festival, you have a great opportunity.  First, you have an opportunity to evangelize just by being there, because that tells the world that our Catholic community is alive and well and committed.  But also you have an opportunity to see what is going on- to see how others are putting their faith into action.  And you have an opportunity to pray on what God’s will is for you.  Then, next Sunday, on Pentecost, the spirit of God will be there to give you the wisdom and power to renew your faith and commitment to His will.