Homily for the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ
I love animals… especially dogs, cats, and birds… including crows. For the past few years there have been a pair of crows that sit on a power line that looks into my kitchen… when they see me at the kitchen sink, they swoop down and sit on the railing leading into the house, and yes, they can still see the kitchen. Periodically, I will throw out a piece of dried out bread, an old cookie or something that has been in the fridge too long. Early the other morning, standing at kitchen sink, I could see four black eyes me, as if to say, “hey, it’s time for breakfast!” So, I threw out a piece of old bread. Thinking nothing of it, until later, when I went to get to get into my car, I found it. Sitting on the very railing where the crows sit… was a large round seed! I know that crows are highly intelligent creatures, they can make tools, recognize individual faces and learn from one another. But they do occasionally leave behind objects like keys, lost earrings, rocks and seeds for people who feet them. Ecologists call it ‘gifting’… in gratitude for what has been given to them.
I share this experience with you to show how important gifts are in our lives. When someone gives us a gift, we feel good, we feel valued, we feel loved… even if it is seed left by a crow. Even if we do not fully understand the gift, such as a peach pit… A gift touches the heart. And that is where God speaks to us… in the heart.
Today, we celebrate the great gift that Jesus gives us of his Body and Blood in the Eucharist. It is a gift treasured over the centuries, because it is what Jesus wanted – to make himself present sacramentally – by allowing us to be fed by his sacred body and Blood… “Take and eat… this is my body… take and drink… this is my blood…”
Every time we gather for Mass, we receive the Body of Christ… it feeds us, it nourishes us, it sustains us, it carries us through everything… every possible circumstance that face us in life… we need it, to carry on in our lives…
Perhaps, we have never needed it more than in these challenging and unsettling times – like the one we are faced with now… the ravages of the pandemic and the pain and death it has spread in our country and around the world… the toll it has taken on human life: physically, mentally & spiritually.
And now, in recent days, a second challenge… to face a dark period of our Canadian history: the mistreatment of our First Nation Peoples – especially their children – by our Church, the Catholic Church. And so we stand in solidarity with heads bowed, in sorrow, regret, shame – especially at the discovery of the remains of 215 children at the former Kamloops Residential School. The gift of human life, at its most vulnerable… young…innocent, taken from families and then lost. And so we put up little shoes, teddy bears and orange shirts around our altars, where we worship…celebrate… where we receive the Body of Christ.
Why? Sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? We do it because first and foremost to remember the lives lost and the countless families hurt by this horrible act. We do it to remember that God still loves us, even tho God’ heart is broken. And we do it to show that we are people who recognize that our system that we love so much, the Church… the system of our church has failed. It is broken and needs to be rebuilt. And we can apologize until the ‘cows come home’ or ‘the crows fly away,’ but unless we take our responsibility of sharing our gifts seriously and every cardinal and bishop of every diocese is willing to sit down with the people and priests, and work TOGETHER as ONE… as the Body of Christ… then it is all for naught. Over 60 years ago, Vatican II reminded us of another gift: that the people of God are the Church. We were reminded, that we were the baptized with so many gifts to offer and share together in building up the church to be the face of Jesus for others. And we have so much work to do in that area, in fact we have not even scratched the surface yet.
And yet we are a gift in progress. That is why our Parish Accountability Report is so important. It shows what we the baptized can do, regardless to our age, the colour of our skin or our way of life, when we respect, value each other, without labels… when we honour the God in each other (Nameste-yoga), we become Body of Christ for one another.
So in our report you will see examples of what happens when we welcome and embrace diversity; when we feed the poor, and cloth the naked; we care for the homeless and the abandoned; we provide for the prostitutes and the addicted; when we look to the future with hope; when we are open to renewal and change; when we see value in one and other’s gifts not matter how large or how small, (even if it is a peach seed); we are living out what we receive each week: the Body of Christ.
- For grateful hearts: that we may grow in our awareness of all God’s blessings and make use of all the opportunities that we have to use them. In you we pray, “Nourish and renew us.”
- For strength of spirit: that we may embrace the sufferings and challenges of life with courage and allow God to lead us through them to new life. In you we pray, “Nourish and renew us.”
- For a greater sharing in the Christian mission: that sent forth from the Eucharist, we may extend Christ’s work and compassion into our families, neighbourhoods, and workplaces each day. In you we pray, “Nourish and renew us.”
- For the wrongs committed against the people of this land, our First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Canada’s Indian Residential Schools. In you we pray, “Nourish and renew us.”
- For all who are hungry, particularly refugees and those displaced by violence: that God will provide them with food for their bodies and friendship for their spirits. In you we pray, “Nourish and renew us.”
- For all who are suffering: that God help the unemployed to find work, open resources to the homeless, protect run away children, and free those experiencing abuse. In you we pray, “Nourish and renew us.”
- For healing: that God will curtain the Covid virus, restore the sick, break the cycle of violence, and remove the divisions in the human family. In you we pray, “Nourish and renew us.”
- For all who have embraced death: that they now bask at the eternal heavenly banquet. Today we remember Robert Gaudet Sr., Marlene Cyr, and _____________________________ . In you we pray, “Nourish and renew us.”