Fr Billy Swan
Dear friends. In this homily I would like to give a brief tour de force through the Eucharist so we can understand it more as a divine gift and a source of life.
Firstly, the Eucharist is God’s way of loving us. He calls us there to be with Him, just like loving parents welcome their children to Sunday dinner. There he calls us to be together as one family – to be gathered, welcomed, accepted, forgiven, taught, offered, fed, blessed and sent back out into the world again for the week ahead. The Mass is an act of worship of God for it directs that worship to Him and not to worship of ourselves or other false gods.
Once we are gathered in the name of the Trinity, we ask forgiveness and open ourselves up to the torrent of God’s mercy and healing. In God’s light we see ourselves in need of Him and acknowledge our imperfection. Then comes the reading of the great stories of salvation from the Scriptures. These are stories like no other for they absorb us into them and the powerful dynamics still at work in our lives and in the world. Yes, my story and your story is important but the Scriptures and especially the Gospels draw us out from ourselves to involve us in an even greater story of God’s plan for us and how we can play our part in his saving work. The stories we write about ourselves are too narrow and limited. Our story in God is far more exciting, adventurous and wide.
Having listened to the Word of God, we stand and say together again that ‘We believe’ in the creed. At the prayers of the faithful we name the needs of the Church and the whole world, present them to the Father and contemplate how we can play our part in answering those prayers.
At the offertory, we join with Jesus in offering ourselves back to the Father in thanksgiving. Because God never loves us by half but completely, so he asks us to give ourselves completely in love to Him. Therefore, with the bread and wine we offer ourselves totally, all we have and all we are. Then begins the great Eucharistic prayer where the priest, in the name of the Church present, asks the Father to pour out his Spirit upon the gifts of bread and wine we have offered, transforming them into the Body and Blood of Jesus.
At the Our Father, we realize that we cannot love God as our Father without loving each other as brothers and sisters. At the Mass we go to God together or as St Paul tells us in the second reading, ‘we form a single body because we all have share in this one loaf’. Then comes the sublime moment when we receive Holy Communion and say ‘Amen’ to Jesus who wishes to unite himself to us in the most intimate way possible. It is the fulfillment of Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel – that the one who would receive Him would ‘live in me and I live in them’. In the beautiful words of the Irish poet Tadhg Gaelach Ó Súilleabháin, when we receive Christ really present in the Eucharist, he becomes ‘as a furnace of love within us burning’ (Poem of Jesus).
At the end of Mass, we experience God’s love once again with a blessing as the celebration ends. With his blessing we re-enter the world of our work, families and daily routine. But we do so as different people. Experiencing God’s love changes us. It changes us to become more like the love we have received. This is where the Mass comes full circle. We go out from it as missionaries of Christ’s love for another week until we return the following Sunday to be refreshed again.
Friends, on this feast of Corpus Christi, we give thanks for the gift of the Eucharist which is God’s way of loving us.