Saturday, June 17, 2017

Corpus Christi Sunday, Year A, 18.06.17

Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16 / 1 Cor 10:16-17 / John 6:51-58

Generally speaking, most of us, if not all of us, experience some kind of memory loss, aka forgetfulness.

Sometimes it can lead to embarrassing situations, but at times it can lead to difficult situations.

A typical situation is when the computer asked us to type in the password, and then to our horror, it says that our password is “incorrect”. We jump into panic mode, and the more anxiously we try to remember, the more unlikely we can get it correct.

Or if we were asked what we had for breakfast or dinner, would we be able to give a snap answer? Or would we roll our eyes upwards and think hard as we try to recall?

Come to think of it, if we forget what we put into our mouths, it says a lot about our awareness of what we are eating and that we may be taking food for granted.

There is this saying: we are what we eat. But if we can’t even remember what we have eaten, then how are we going to remember what we are going to be?

In the 1st reading, Moses recalled for the people their 40 years in the desert, and how the Lord made them feel hungry and fed them with manna.

He told them to “remember” and “do not forget”, which is rather odd. If there was nothing else to eat everyday but manna and manna and manna, then what is there to remember, or what is there to forget?

But the thing here to remember is that it was the Lord who fed them and they must not forget that more than just manna, they were fed by the Word that comes from the mouth of the Lord, the Word that gave them food in the form of manna.

Now in the gospel, Jesus gave a long discourse about what the real food is when He says: For My flesh is real food, and My blood is real drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood lives in Me and I live in him.

This Sunday the Church celebrates the great feast of “Corpus Christi”. We are reminded of what we are putting into our mouths as we come up for Holy Communion.

It is the Body of Christ that we are eating. And what we eat, we must become, meaning to say that if we truly believe that we are receiving Jesus, then we must become like Jesus. We must remember that; we should not forget that.

This Sunday is also a day to remember for 14 of our young children. Today they will receive the Body of Christ for the first time.

Yes it will be a day where many photos will be taken of them as they look smart and pretty. But they must remember this day as the day they first received Jesus into their hearts, and they must not forget to become and grow like Jesus every day.

Now young as they are, can they fully understand what they are receiving? Will they remember what this is all about? Or will they slowly forget and become indifferent to all this?

Some of us may remember the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen. He was a renowned TV evangelist in the 1950s. He was interviewed on national television and he was asked this: You have inspired millions of people all over the world. Who inspired you? Was it a pope?

He responded that it was not a pope, or a cardinal, or another bishop, or even a priest or nun, but rather a story of an eleven year old Chinese girl.

He explained that when the communists took over China, they imprisoned a priest in his own rectory near the church. After being locked up in his own house, the priest looked out the window and was horrified to see the communists enter the church. Once inside, they went into the sanctuary, broke open the tabernacle and in a hateful act of desecration, threw down the ciborium scattering the Sacred Hosts on the floor. The priest knew exactly how many Hosts had been in the ciborium: thirty-two.

When the communists left they either didn’t notice, or didn’t pay any attention to a little girl praying in the back of the Church who saw everything. That night she returned, and slipping past the guard at the rectory, entered the Church where she made a holy hour in reparation for the desecration she witnessed of the Blessed Sacrament.

After her holy hour she went into the sanctuary, and kneeling down, she bent over and received Jesus in the Holy Communion with her tongue since it was not permissible at the time for laymen to touch the Sacred Host with their hands.

Each night, the girl returned to the church to make her holy hour and receive Jesus in Holy Communion on her tongue just as she did the first night. 

On the thirty- second night, after having consumed the last Host, she accidentally made a noise that awoke the guard who was asleep at his post by the priest’s residence. From his window, the priest could only watch in horror as the heartrending scene unfolded before his eyes. The girl tried to run away but the guard caught up with her and beat her with the butt of his rifle. It was a sad and tragic ending for that 11-year old girl.

When Archbishop Fulton Sheen heard the story he was so inspired that he promised God he would make a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament every day for the rest of his life. He also taught others to receive the Body of Christ reverently and to always remember that it is Jesus they are receiving.

As for that 11-year old girl, her story not only inspired Archbishop Fulton Sheen, her heroic act of going to the church every night at the risk of her life to adore and receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament serves as a powerful testimony that young children know what, or Who, they are receiving, and that should also make us remember when we come up for Holy Communion.

The feast of Corpus Christi reminds us that Jesus feeds us with His Body. As we look at the stained glass of the Sacred Heart, then we will also realize that Jesus is giving us His Heart, feeding us with His Heart, so that He can make our hearts like His.
Let us remember this; and may we not forget this.