Homily Feast of Corpus Christi Cycle A June 18, 2017

“Not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”
These words from the Book of Deuteronomy today were repeated by Jesus in the desert during his encounter of temptation by the Devil, when the Lord was hungry after fasting for 40 days and nights. Bread alone doesn’t satisfy our souls. But bread followed by the word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord does bring satisfaction.
And what are some of those words that come forth from the mouth of God? “Take and eat; this is my body. Take and drink, this is my blood.” Don’t be shy. There’s an abundance. Enough for every person ever born.
As the Israelites ate manna in the desert after much complaining to God because of their hunger pains, so we Christians eat our form of manna in the desert, the Eucharist. They ate the shadow of what was to come. Look at our shadow. Your shadow is near you, next to you, but it’s not really you. Your shadow doesn’t have a heart, a brain, a mind that thinks for itself. It’s just an image. It doesn’t breathe; it doesn’t work for a living. It doesn’t raise families. Shadows don’t drive to Boston to go to a Red Sox game, sneaking into Fenway Park without purchasing a ticket. Only if you try to sneak in without purchasing a ticket will your shadow sneak in.
A shadow is real. You can see it. You can reach out and touch it. But you don’t feel anything. You might as well reach for nothing, because the result is the same. Shadows are freaky. They can be short; they can be long; they change with the time of day and season of the year. Shadows play mind games with us. Have you ever noticed that? They’re real, but they’re fake. They’re not a living entity, but they are part of us. There’s something unfulfilling about them. And that’s why the Israelites kept complaining they were hungry. Their manna did not fulfill them. The shadow of bread did not fulfill them.
God supplied bread from heaven for their hunger, after much complaining: “Why did you bring us out here in the desert? We would rather be in slavery in Egypt and eat whatever and whenever we want!” They complained; they got their bread; they ate it; enjoyed the bread; were satisfied; got hungry again; complained again. That’s a shadow. It begins with complaint; it ends with complaint. Nothing but frustration for those who are complaining; nothing but frustration for those who have to listen to it.
Our celebration today of Corpus Christi takes us past the shadow forever, and into the reality of the bread that came down from heaven in the form of a Divine Person. The shadow has been removed. The shadow is dead. Catholics have no business and no justification thinking the shadow remains. There are some of us Christians who have moved from the reality of the Eucharist and welcomed back the shadow of bread. Such movement is going back to the Old Testament.
Listen to the words of the Gospel; “The Jews quarreled among themselves saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’” Interpretation: “This man is crazy. He thinks we’re cannibals. We prefer the shadow. We prefer the complaining bread.” That’s how they interpret the words of Jesus, as Christ is trying to teach them the reality that he is the true bread that comes down from heaven. He has forever replaced the shadow of the unsatisfying manna, and proclaimed himself the reality of the Eucharist.
“For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” There is nothing false contained within his being food and drink for us. All shadows have disappeared for good. And this is nothing less than a sign of how deeply he loves us. We Christians are loved so much greater than the Israelites of old, and God loved his chosen people unconditionally. They had the shadow; we have the reality. They ate bread; we eat the true God. Would you rather consume tasty bread, or would you rather consume the eternal God?
Yet, it’s apparent that so many of us Catholics believe in the shadow and not in the reality. If we happen to believe in the limited nature of manna rather than the truth of the Eucharist, please pray for understanding and faith so that we may not restrict God’s gift to us. Pray to stop quarreling with Jesus, and come to the greatest belief of all that he gives to us. Don’t be a Catholic who is satisfied with a 2-course meal when God has cooked for us a 5-course meal every Sabbath Day. Don’t cut yourself short on belief when God has invited us into the incredible length of the Body of his Son.
The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. It has been since the Last Supper. The Apostles went on to hold the communal meal aside from their dinner. They were two separate meals. One filled the stomach until breakfast the next morning. The other meal welcomed the intimate presence of Jesus, where they commemorated the Last Supper, his Passion, his resurrection, and consumed him.
This is not our dinner here. This is Christ feeding himself in word and Eucharist. This is the bread that came down from heaven and satisfies. We are smack in the middle of it. And what a blessing it is.
When it comes to the Eucharist, we do not live in shadows. We do not quarrel with Jesus, thinking he’s a crazy man. He knows what he’s talking about with the food and drink being truth. May the top blessing we receive in this lifetime, the Eucharist, be seen by all of us Catholics in its reality. Avoid the shadows of the Old Testament bread, and enjoy the true food and true drink that is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.