this IS my body

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ – Corpus Christi (June 2, 2013)

Gn: 14:18-20

Ps 110

1 Cor 11:23-26

Lk 9:11b-17

I wanted to share with you a story about a married couple that my wife and I met back in 2006. Their names are Mike and Angie. It’s their story of how they went from their Protestant faith into full communion with the Catholic Church. The following is in Mike’s own words:

“I had been on the journey for several years, moving from curiosity to attraction, whereas Angie had come along rather late (but rapidly). When we began to feel that our journey was going to lead us to become Catholic, I began to get cold feet, thinking we could just “appreciate” Catholicism from a distance while remaining safely Protestant. Angie and I had been in the habit, each of us individually, sneaking over to an occasional daily Mass at Christ the King, which was just a couple blocks from our house. One day Angie was going out the door to a Mass, and I said to her as she was walking out the door, “Angie, maybe we don’t have to do this…you know, become Catholic. Maybe we can just have an appreciation for the Catholic Church.” She immediately stopped at the front door, with her back to me, and was completely silent for a number of seconds. When she turned around, I noticed tears running down her cheeks, and she said, “All my life, I’ve wanted it to be true, that it really is the body and blood of Christ, not just a symbol. But I never allowed myself to believe it. I can’t not do this.” And the rest, so they say, is history.”

What a powerful witness to the Catholic teaching on the true presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. What makes it even more powerful is one little detail that I left out at the beginning of the story. You see…Mike was the head pastor of a United Methodist Church in Lexington at the time that he and Angie were sneaking off to attend Mass at Christ the King Cathedral.

Let that sink in for a second.

The Methodist Church where he was the pastor was paying his salary and providing housing for Mike, Angie and their 6 children. Can you see why Mike was a little timid and started getting cold feet??? They knew they were heading down a path that would ultimately leave them unemployed and without housing.

Our Catholic teaching on the Eucharist is stunning, shocking and beautiful all at the same time. It sets us apart from other Christian churches without a doubt. The origins of this teaching can readily be traced back to the Apostles and the early Church.  For example, St. Ignatius in 110 AD and St. Justin Martyr in 150 AD both wrote letters describing Christ being truly present in the bread and wine.  We even read about it in today’s reading from 1st Corinthians where Christ took bread, gave thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.” And then he took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.”

last supper

This IS my body. This IS my blood. It’s not a symbol; it’s flesh and blood under the appearance of ordinary bread and wine. Sure, look at it under a microscope and you’ll see bread and wine (with the exception of documented Eucharistic miracles like the one Deacon Richard preached about a few weeks ago). But to quote the song we chant at Benediction at the end of Eucharistic adoration on Wednesday nights, “Faith will tell us Christ is present, when our human senses fail.”  It’s not an easy teaching to grasp, but it’s an authentic teaching of Jesus Christ and His Church that we need to keep reflecting on so that we can try to better wrap our imperfect minds around it.  But once this teaching has been planted in your mind, it’s hard to ignore the awesomeness of it…if given the chance.

That’s what Mike and Angie struggled with. The seeds were planted. They knew where they were heading but also knew the consequences it would bring with their job security. Trusting is God (and pregnant with baby #7) they announced to their congregation their plans of joining the Catholic Church. They then left the United Methodist Church in June 2005 and gave birth to their baby girl the next month.  They officially joined the Catholic Church on August 13, 2005 at Mary Queen in Lexington, which was also the same day their newest baby was baptized.

Mike and Angie with their children

Mike and Angie with their children

Mike is now the director of the Marriage and Family Life Office for our Diocese and has his own Catholic talk radio show on Real Life Radio out of Lexington called the “Mike Allen Show.” Trusting in God can be so very difficult, especially when the outcome seems clouded by our human eyes. But it can be extremely rewarding if you are brave enough to prayerfully take that first step.

Mike and Angie took that first step. They were invited to the Eucharistic banquet and decided to show up to the party. You and I are given that same invitation every weekend at Mass. jesus_communionJesus is the Host. We are the guests.  Please take this invitation seriously. There are so many people in our society, maybe even some in this church that are aching from a lack of something. I’m not talking about material goods, but of companionship, love, mercy or forgiveness. Jesus wants to fill this void and be present to us in a profound way at this banquet. His most Holy Body and Blood is the only food that can satisfy the very desires of our soul.

Cling to the teaching on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Study it. Internalize it. Come to Mass frequently and when you come up for communion know in your heart that you are approaching the Almighty God of the Universe. Go to confession before Mass so you can receive Christ with a pure heart and clean body. Come to Eucharistic Adoration on Wednesdays and reflect on this mystery. Pray for God to open your heart to Him. If you can achieve this, peace will enter you and fill every void.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a banquet table to help set up…

Deacon Richard, Fr. Noel and myself celebrating the Liturgy of the Eucharist

Deacon Richard, Fr. Noel and myself celebrating the Liturgy of the Eucharist