The Body and Blood of Christ
Father Dan Juelfs
Homily from the Televised Mass
Feast of Corpus Christi, Sunday, June 19, 2022
This is my body. This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Today we celebrate the feast proclaiming the reality of Christ being present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. The bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. Our call as Christian people is to keep that presence of Christ in the world through the Eucharist. Through our celebration of that event in which Christ made that proclamation — this is my body this is my blood.
The feast of Corpus Christi, as we celebrate it now, came about in a very real sense because of doubt. Doubt that the Eucharist really was the body and blood of Christ. In 1263, in the town of Bolsena, Italy, a priest who was saying Mass realized, but realized that he wasn’t sure, realized that he had doubts. Could he really believe that the bread changed in the body of Christ. That the wine changed into the blood of Christ. And after he was saying Mass, after the consecration, the host began bleeding on the corporal, on the altar in front of him. He realized that yes it was.
And his response was to take the corporal and go to the nearby town of Orvieto where Pope Urban IV happened to be in residence at that time, to show it to him, to show it to the pope to affirm for himself, but also to get a recognition and acknowledgement by the pope that this miracle had taken place. The pope called then that that corporal be put on display, that it be available, be available for people to see and to recognize what happened. That that host really was the body of Christ and showed that by bleeding. And eventually that corporal, and continues to today, resides in the Cathedral of Orvieto, and is used to lead the Corpus Christi procession every year in that city. It continues to very much be a part of that celebration.
A year later, in 1264, Pope Urban declared that the feast of Corpus Christi should be a feast of the universal church, something to be celebrated throughout the world. Now it was not the first time that places had celebrated Corpus Christi, their belief in the body of Christ. But it was individual dioceses, individual times, there was no particular consistency about it. But Pope Urban proclaimed that this would now be a universal feast to be celebrated everywhere throughout the world.
Our celebration this year, throughout the United States, begins a three-year eucharistic revival in our country. The American bishops have called upon the church of the United States to dedicate the next three years through a proclamation, a revival of the Eucharist. A proclamation and a renewal of our faith in that reality of the body, bread and wine becoming the body and blood of Christ.
The first year, beginning this weekend, is going to be, the focus will be particularly on the revival in the parish. In the midst of much of the growing questions and much of the growing doubt that seems to be occurring in our country, and probably not just in our country, but people who question, wonder, are they really able to believe that Christ is truly present. And so, the first year will focus on diocesan formation, programs have been in each diocese throughout the United states.
The second year will focus on parish formation, activity and celebrations and proclamations, expressions of faith within the parishes. And the third and final year will be a eucharistic, a National Eucharistic Congress that will take place three years from now. And that focus is going to be going out on mission, going out and proclaiming that reality throughout the world.
This celebration, or the expression of the feast of Corpus Christi, came about because of a miracle that God provided for a priest to others. A priest who wasn’t sure whether he could believe it or not.
Our revival, our Eucharistic renewal for the United States, uses, puts that focus in order help people overcome their own doubts, their own questions, their own wonderment about the reality of Christ being present. It’s a response to that doubt. God responded to the doubt of the priest by the miracle of the host that bled. Now he’s responding to the doubts of our people by providing this kind of renewal.
In our diocese that celebration begins this Sunday, it begins today if you’re watching this on Sunday, with a Mass at three o’clock at the cathedral. And then following that a Eucharistic Procession from the cathedral to the band shell in Memorial Park and then closing with benediction and then a free supper afterwards.
So, inviting people to take part, inviting people to show your faith in the Eucharist and your desire to help others come to believe.