The Nuncio’s homily at Corpus Christi Mass

DSC07202Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi gave a beautiful homily at the Mass he celebrated to mark the Solemnity of Corpus Christi at St. George’s parish in Ottawa.

He acknowledged the presence of our Anglican Ordinariate Parish Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as this was the third annual Corpus Christi procession followed by a pot luck luncheon our parishes have celebrated jointly.

We’re also joining St. George’s for the Big Give next Saturday, an annual event Ottawa churches of all denominations have organized to give goods and services to the people of the city, to express our love and blessing.  And we have joined St. George’s in supporting a Syrian refugee family.

Here’s Archbishop Bonazzi’s homily:

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Homily of H.E. Luigi Bonazzi, Apostolic Nuncio

Solemnity of the Holy Body and Blood of Christ

(St. George’s Church, Ottawa, May 29, 2016)

 

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

 

It is a real joy for me to be with you this morning, to celebrate this beautiful Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi.  I thank Msgr. Feichtinger and Fr. Hayman for the invitation to preside over this Eucharistic Celebration, and to carry the Blessed Sacrament in the Eucharistic Procession that will follow.

 

I understand that this is becoming something of a tradition as the members of the Church of the Annunciation unite with the parishioners of St. George’s to observe this great Festival.  St. George is the patron saint of England; and the Anglican Ordinariate was established to bring into full communion with the See of Peter, that portion of the Christian Community that traces its origins and draws its inspiration from the spiritual patrimony of English Christianity both before and after the Reformation.

 

Together, we are here, today, to reaffirm with great joy our faith in the Eucharist, the Mystery that constitutes the heart of the Church:

“The sacrament of charity, the Holy Eucharist is the gift that Jesus Christ makes of himself, thus revealing to us God’s infinite love for every man and woman. This wondrous sacrament makes manifest that “greater” love which led him to “lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13). Jesus did indeed love them “to the end” (Jn 13:1). In those words the Evangelist introduces Christ’s act of immense humility: before dying for us on the Cross, he tied a towel around himself and washed the feet of his disciples. In the same way, Jesus continues, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, to love us “to the end,” even to offering us his body and his blood. What amazement must the Apostles have felt in witnessing what the Lord did and said during that Supper! What wonder must the eucharistic mystery also awaken in our own hearts!” (POST-SYNODAL APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION SACRAMENTUM CARITATIS  ON THE EUCHARIST AS THE SOURCE AND SUMMIT OF THE CHURCH’S LIFE AND MISSION, n. 1).

In the mystery of the Incarnation, God became human. So we have Jesus on earth. He could do everything. But the logic of love demanded that, once He had taken a step like this from the Trinity to earthly life, He would not stay just for 33 years, divinely extraordinary a life as his was, but that He would find a way to remain throughout the centuries, and especially to be present in every corner of the earth in the culminating moment of his love: sacrifice and glory, death and resurrection. And He did remain. With his divine imagination, he invented the Eucharist.

His love is beyond all possible limits.

Thérèse of Lisieux would put it like this: “Oh Jesus, let me say, in overflowing gratitude, that your love reaches madness ….”[1]

The Church, the Christian, cannot live without the Eucharist. Christian life, in fact, is a “life in Christ”. “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Ga 2, 20). “For to me life is Christ, and death is gain” (Fil 1,21). This “transformation” is performed – in a special way – by the Eucharist.

In the documents of the Second Vatican Council, we read that communion with the body and blood of Christ does nothing less than change us into what we received.[2]

 

Saint’Augustine, as if he had heard a voice from on high, writes: “I am the food of full-grown men. Grow and you shall feed on Me. But you shall not change Me into your own substance, as you do with the food of your body, instead you shall be changed into Me.”[3]

 

And the Pope Leo the Great: “Our participation in the body and blood of Christ causes us to be transformed into that which we receive and with all fullness we carry, in our spirit and in our flesh, He in whom we are dead, buried and risen…”[4].

 

And a Doctor of the Church, Albert the Great, writes: “Every time two things are united in such a way that one has to be changed into all of the other, then the stronger transforms into itself that which is weaker. Therefore, since this food possesses greater power than those who eat of it, this food transforms into itself those who eat it.”[5]

 

Having said this, we can understand the amazing statement of Saint Thomas Aquinas: “The proper effect of the Eucharist is the transformation of human beings into God”[6].

 

At the same time the Eucharist does not do this only for the individual person, but for many persons who, all being God, are not many, but one. They are God (by participation) and they are all together in God. They are one with him, lost in him.

Now this reality, which the Eucharist brings about, is the Church.

What is the Church? It is the “one” called forth by the mutual love of Christians and by the Eucharist. The Church is made up of divinized people, made God, united to Christ who is God and to each other. If we wish to look at the whole thing from a rather human standpoint, that is, expressed in human terms, we can use an example from Scripture: the Church is a body, whose head is the glorious Christ.

Yes, God does not wish to dwell only in my soul, in my family, in my people, but among all peoples called to form one people. Because of the current experience of human mobility, in many nations – and Canada is a beautiful example – the people are made up of many ethnic groups.

Let’s make the effort, therefore, nourished by the Eucharist, to appreciate diversity, respect the other, look at him or her as someone who belongs to me: I am the other, the other is me; the other lives in me, I live in the other. And let’s begin with those we share our life with every day. In this way, we can make space for the presence of God in us and among us. It will be He – Jesus in us and among us – who constructs unity, who safeguards the identity of each people, who creates a new way of being society.

 

The Gospel for this Sunday relates the miraculous feeding – the multiplication of loaves and fish.

In his marvelous and insightful book “Jesus of Nazareth” Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus, referring to the miracle of today’s Gospel asks: “Why does Christ now do the very thing he had rejected as a temptation before?” – when after his fast of forty days was tempted by the devil to satisfy his hunger by turning stones into loaves of bread.  Jesus refused on that occasion declaring:  “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (cf. Matthew 4:4).

Pope Benedict XVI answers:  “The crowds had left everything in order to come hear God’s word.  They are people who have opened their heart to God and to one another; they are therefore ready to receive the bread with the proper dispositions.  This miracle of the loaves has three aspects, then.  It is preceded by the search for God, for his word, for the teaching that sets the whole of life on the right path.  Furthermore, God is asked to supply the bread.  Finally, readiness to share with one another is an essential element of the miracle.  Listening to God becomes living with God, and leads from faith to love, to the discovery of the other” (cf. Jesus of Nazareth, p. 32).

 

We can, therefore, understand the command of Jesus: “Give them some food yourselves” (Lc 9,13), which anticipates his words: “do this in memory of me” (1Cor 11,25). Jesus goes to the crowds, bringing them peace, light, life, and He invites us to do the same. He asks us to have for our brothers and sisters that same love He has for us. With the Eucharist, He makes us one with him and transforms us because He wishes to operate again, through us, and give Himself to his people. We are his hands, his heart, and his mouth. If we do not believe that it is possible to make those gifts amd gestures of love making possible for people “to eat and to be satisfied” (Lc 9,17), it means that we do not believe enough in what the Eucharist operates in us and for us. But we wish to believe!

 

May each of your communities, strengthened by the Eucharist – the Banquet which the Lord has prepared for us – go out into the world (as we shall do in solemn procession at the conclusion of this Mass), taking the Lord with you. We come to the church to be nourished, empowered and transformed by the Eucharistic, and we sort out from the church to give the food of love to the crowds of today, as a sign of Christ’s love for our brothers and sisters, for this city and for the whole world.

 

We acclaim with great joy and gratitude today and always:

Panem de caelo praestitisti eis:  Omne delectamentum in se habentem.

“Thou hast given them bread from heaven:  Having within it all sweetness” (cf. Wisdom 16:20). Amen.

[1] Teresa di Lisieux, “Gli scritti”, Roma 1970, p. 244.

[2] Cf. L.G. 26.

[3]  AUGUSTINE, Confessions VII 10 (PL 32, 742) ed. & trs. R. S. Pine-Coffin, Penguin 1971, p. 147.

[4]  LEO THE GREAT, Serm. 63,7 (PL 54, 357C).

[5]  Idem, In IV Sent., D. 9, a. 2 (Borgnet 29), p. 217.

[6] THOMAS AQUINAS, Sent. IV, dist. 12, q. 2, a. I.

 

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