Fifth Sunday of Easter
Sunday, June 19, 2022 – Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Holy Ghost Church – 5:00 Mass
Genesis 14:18-20; Psalm 110:1, 2, 3, 4; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Luke 9:11b-17
Happy Father’s Day! Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, also known as the Feast of Corpus Christi. It is the feast day in which the Church rejoices in the fact that the Eucharist is really, truly the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ.
Sadly, a recent survey of Catholics indicate that 69% of Catholics don’t believe this is true. While I don’t believe the percentage of unbelievers is that high here at Holy Ghost, it is the case if you were to look at the general Catholic population across the United States. Suffice it to say, this is alarming.
The widespread unbelief of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist has caused our Bishops in the U.S. to create a three-year plan for Eucharistic revival, a plan which BEGINS TODAY. You can learn more at the website eucharisticrevival.org.
The plan is impressive and encouraging for those of us who do believe and we need to all pray that it will bear much fruit in the Church. Resolve to pray with our Bishops, priests and deacons that hearts will be changed and that all Catholics will come to know Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
Today’s gospel of the feeding of the five thousand with just five loaves and two fish foreshadows the great Eucharistic meal we receive at every Mass, as well as the heavenly banquet we hope to share in eternity. When received worthily, in a state of grace, God’s grace is multiplied within us.
When Jesus fed the five thousand he took the very little that the people had to offer and he multiplied it, so much so that there were twelve baskets of leftovers! He can multiply our offerings in the same way. If we unreservedly offer him the little we have, the gifts we have been given by him, he will multiply these gifts and do great things in our lives.
We may not have much to offer, but by giving him what we do have he will use this in ways that will surprise and abundantly bless us. When we give him permission to use our gifts in his service, his healing power will be unleashed in our lives.
I’d like to share with you now an experience of this healing power that I had this week. I’ve just returned from a retreat at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio with140 other priests, deacons and seminarians. I came to the retreat in need of both spiritual and physical healing, although I wasn’t really expecting either. As I was listening to the various talks and contemplating God’s love for me, I was convicted to give up a bad habit that was blocking me from receiving God’s grace.
About the third day into the retreat I knew that I had to give up this habit and I promised Our Lord that I would. I immediately felt a burden lifted from me and I knew I had received the grace to follow through on my promise and it has been amazing! But wait, there’s more!
On the final day of the retreat people were sharing with the group their experiences of God’s grace and healing during the week. There were many inspiring accounts of how they had received God’s love and mercy. One of these accounts really struck me.
A priest who had been suffering constantly with severe back pain shared that he had two rods surgically placed in his back and that after surgery his pain level remained a constant 8 on a scale of 1-10. It had been this way for quite some time and the surgery hadn’t helped to relieve it.
He was sharing this with another priest over lunch who asked him if he could pray with him for healing. He didn’t know at the time that this priest had the gift of healing. Immediately after they prayed his pain disappeared! His severe back pain was totally gone…he had been miraculously healed!
Now some of you may have noticed that I have been suffering from a great deal of pain in my knees, ankles and feet. Every time I would stand up, the pain in my knees made it difficult for me to walk without standing still for a moment so that the muscles could stretch a bit. This pain made it difficult for me to genuflect, which for a deacon is a problem!
I was inspired to approach the priest who was healed to ask him who the priest was that had prayed over him. He pointed him out and just before our final Mass of the retreat, I went over to him to ask if I could speak with him after Mass. He graciously agreed and during Mass I prayed that if it was God’s will I might be healed of the pain in my legs. After receiving the Eucharist I sensed that God had something wonderful in store for me.
After Mass I went to the priest and explained that I understood that he was the priest who had prayed over the priest with severe back pain and I asked him if he would pray with me. He agreed and we went to a corner of the church to pray. He asked me a few questions about my pain and gave me instructions as to how to dispose myself during this prayer. He told me just to relax and receive whatever God may have for me.
After he prayed, he asked me how I felt. I told him that while still a bit stiff, I had no more pain in my knees and that the pain in my ankles and feet was significantly less! He told me to walk around a bit and then he prayed with me again, focusing now on my ankles and feet. Following that prayer I was able to stand and walk with very little pain in my ankles. Something I hadn’t experienced in a long time.
I stand before you today as one who has experienced God’s healing power in a very real and tangible way. I’m convinced that my experience of Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament that I adored and received throughout the week gave me the extra faith I needed to receive this healing.
Dear friends in Christ, never doubt the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Never doubt the power that is available to each of us when we offer what little we have in his service. Jesus wants to heal us of everything that keeps us from experiencing his great love if we only believe and ask him to increase our faith.
We have the greatest gift we could ever receive in the Blessed Sacrament, so never take it for granted and believe that this is TRULY the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ himself. This sacrament contains everything we need to live a life of joy and love in service of our neighbor. Pray today that God will increase your faith to be able to encounter Him who is truly present in the Eucharist. I promise that you will be surprised at what he will do for you when you believe, receive, and adore him.
Amen? Amen! Thanks be to God.