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This is the Center of Our Faith

Mary Jo Tully
Chancellor, Archdiocese of Portland

June 2, 2013
The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Genesis 14:18-20
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Luke 9:11b-17

Mike did not simply drift away from the Church. He made a decision based on what he called his disillusionment with the institutional Church. His family and friends grieved and we coaxed. His wife and children continued to attend Mass and the Sacraments and we all prayed. Meanwhile Mike searched. He attended the churches of all the Protestant denominations around him and then, one day he returned to his parish. What brought him back? Mike says that something was always missing in the other churches. Initially, he did not know what it was. He says he was sure it wasn’t the Sunday liturgy because its structure in some of the other faith communities was similar. Mike says it was the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist that brought him back to the Church and it is the Church’s Sacraments that keep him with us.

Today is the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. It is an important celebration for many reasons. Most important, it causes us to remember what we have perhaps taken for granted. The Bread that we eat and the Wine that we drink are the body and blood of Christ. Like many of us, Mike had begun to take the presence of Christ in the Eucharist for granted…until he realized what he was leaving. At the Eucharistic Prayer, we are confronted with memories of all those who have come before us and will follow us—this community of believers who continually recall that our Eucharist is an ongoing expression of the covenant made with God.

The Eucharist is at the heart of our parish life and the reason the local Catholic community gathers each Sunday. Here we remember not only who we are as a parish but who we are as a universal Church. Together we proclaim our faith in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, a belief that is specifically if not uniquely Catholic. The Body and Blood of Christ are what make us one. It is the Eucharist that gives us the strength and the courage to live with peace.

This is a feast that provides us an opportunity for reflecting on the core of our faith. Our liturgy is the celebration that lies at the center of that faith. How should we who believe in the real presence of the Lord in the Eucharist respond? The answer is one that each of us must seek. Our ordinary meals and our Eucharistic celebration are intertwined. Each enriches the other. Each time we celebrate the Eucharist, we bring all of our experience of shared meals and human fellowship to the altar. We remember that God is part of our personal history. Then, we bring the Eucharistic experience to our family table, to the meals we share with our friends. Because we celebrate the Eucharist, all our meals become holy.

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