Corpus Christi – Catholic homily outline for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Year C

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Central idea: Christ is the eternal high priest who offers us what he offered to the Father, himself. Doctrine: The Eucharist. Practical application: Eucharistic Adoration

To view Lectionary 169, click here.

Central idea: Christ is the eternal high priest who offers us what he offered to the Father, himself

Reading 1 Gn 14:18-20

In those days, Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine,
and being a priest of God Most High,
he blessed Abram with these words:
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
the creator of heaven and earth;
and blessed be God Most High,
who delivered your foes into your hand.”
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

  • When Abraham met Melchizedek, God’s Chosen People consisted of only one member, Abraham himself. At the time of Moses and the giving of the Law, when those descendants of Abraham had grown into a nation, all the men were to become priests for the rest of humanity. But because of their sin of idolatry, God took this universal priesthood away from them. Instead God gave his People a priesthood for just themselves, the men of the tribe of Levi, whose ministry was to offer sacrifices for Israel.
  • Yet here at the very beginning, Abraham meets this mysterious Melchizedek, king of Salem (which means peace) who is a high priest. Moreover, he is not a pagan priest but a priest of the true God. He makes an offering of bread and wine. He acted as a mediator between God and Abraham, delivering God’s blessing to Abraham and Abraham’s blessing back to God.
  • Melchizedek is, thus, a type or symbol or foreshadowing of Christ.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 110:1, 2, 3, 4

R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek

The LORD said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand
till I make your enemies your footstool.”

The scepter of your power the LORD will stretch forth from Zion:
“Rule in the midst of your enemies.”

“Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor;
before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you.”

The LORD has sworn, and he will not repent:
“You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”

  • Christ interpreted this psalm as a Messianic prophecy about himself. God the Father said to Christ—David’s Lord—that he will be a prince and will sit at the right hand of God, having conquered all his enemies. Moreover, he will be an eternal priest, like Melchizedek, that priest-king who made an offering of bread and wine on behalf of God’s people, bringing God’s blessing down to them and offering back their thanks.
  • Abraham, the first of the Chosen People, had won a military victory over his enemies and collected the spoils of war. He gave ten percent of these to this priest of the Most High God in thanksgiving.
  • Christ, the first of the new Chosen People, won a victory over his enemies, sin and death. He was both priest and victim, offering all of himself to God the Most High. He now sits at the right hand of God the Father as King and Priest, interceding for his people.
  • Christ’s offering was his own Body and Blood on the Cross. He offered it sacramentally in the form of bread and wine at the Last Supper, transforming it into his Body and Blood in that and in each subsequent Eucharist.

Reading 2 1 Cor 11:23-26

Brothers and sisters:
I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over,
took bread, and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

  • Only about twenty years after the Last Supper, even before the Gospels were written, St. Paul repeats to the Corinthians the Apostolic tradition about the Eucharist.
  • The Apostles, and the men they had appointed to assist and succeed them, obeyed Christ’s orders to “Do this in memory of me.”
  • At the Last Supper, Christ offered himself to the Father in an unbloody manner, transforming the bread and wine into his Body and Blood. The Church has always understood Our Lord’s words literally. “This is my body” means the bread is now his Body even though it still looks and tastes like bread. “This is my blood” means the wine is now his Blood, even though it still looks and tastes like wine.
  • Christ can do this because he is God.
  • This was the same offering Our Lord made in a bloody manner in his Passion. This is the same offering every priest makes acting in the person of Christ at every Mass.
  • This offering is the New Covenant, the solemn agreement between God and his people. The New Covenant is our redemption from sin and death and our sanctification as children of God.
  • Paul says, “as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.”
    • This means that when an Apostle or a man who is given the office of bishop or priest does what Christ commanded with bread and wine, saying those words, and then when we consume the Body and Blood of Christ, we are proclaiming the Gospel.
    • The essence of the Gospel is Christ the Lord himself. Christ is God Incarnate who lived, taught, worked miracles, underwent his Passion and Death on the Cross, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, intercedes for us, and will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Sequence – Lauda Sion

Laud, O Zion, your salvation,
Laud with hymns of exultation,
Christ, your king and shepherd true:

Bring him all the praise you know,
He is more than you bestow.
Never can you reach his due.

Special theme for glad thanksgiving
Is the quick’ning and the living
Bread today before you set:

From his hands of old partaken,
As we know, by faith unshaken,
Where the Twelve at supper met.

Full and clear ring out your chanting,
Joy nor sweetest grace be wanting,
From your heart let praises burst:

For today the feast is holden,
When the institution olden
Of that supper was rehearsed.

Here the new law’s new oblation,
By the new king’s revelation,
Ends the form of ancient rite:

Now the new the old effaces,
Truth away the shadow chases,
Light dispels the gloom of night.

What he did at supper seated,
Christ ordained to be repeated,
His memorial ne’er to cease:

And his rule for guidance taking,
Bread and wine we hallow, making
Thus our sacrifice of peace.

This the truth each Christian learns,
Bread into his flesh he turns,
To his precious blood the wine:

Sight has fail’d, nor thought conceives,
But a dauntless faith believes,
Resting on a pow’r divine.

Here beneath these signs are hidden
Priceless things to sense forbidden;
Signs, not things are all we see:

Blood is poured and flesh is broken,
Yet in either wondrous token
Christ entire we know to be.

Whoso of this food partakes,
Does not rend the Lord nor breaks;
Christ is whole to all that taste:

Thousands are, as one, receivers,
One, as thousands of believers,
Eats of him who cannot waste.

Bad and good the feast are sharing,
Of what divers dooms preparing,
Endless death, or endless life.

Life to these, to those damnation,
See how like participation
Is with unlike issues rife.

When the sacrament is broken,
Doubt not, but believe ‘tis spoken,
That each sever’d outward token
doth the very whole contain.

Nought the precious gift divides,
Breaking but the sign betides
Jesus still the same abides,
still unbroken does remain.

The shorter form of the sequence begins here.

Lo! the angel’s food is given
To the pilgrim who has striven;
see the children’s bread from heaven,
which on dogs may not be spent.

Truth the ancient types fulfilling,
Isaac bound, a victim willing,
Paschal lamb, its lifeblood spilling,
manna to the fathers sent.

Very bread, good shepherd, tend us,
Jesu, of your love befriend us,
You refresh us, you defend us,
Your eternal goodness send us
In the land of life to see.

You who all things can and know,
Who on earth such food bestow,
Grant us with your saints, though lowest,
Where the heav’nly feast you show,
Fellow heirs and guests to be. Amen. Alleluia.

  • In this chant, we offer to Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, given to us in the Holy Eucharist, the adoration of latria, “the veneration due to God alone for his supreme excellence and to show people’s complete submission to him.”
  • The ancient rites of the Jewish priests are ended in favor of this new rite foreshadowed by Melchizedek.
  • One must receive the Eucharist with faith, believing what the Church believes, and in the state of grace.

Bad and good the feast are sharing,
Of what divers dooms preparing,
Endless death, or endless life.

Life to these, to those damnation,
See how like participation
Is with unlike issues rife.

Gospel Lk 9:11b-17

Jesus spoke to the crowds about the kingdom of God,
and he healed those who needed to be cured.
As the day was drawing to a close,
the Twelve approached him and said,
“Dismiss the crowd
so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms
and find lodging and provisions;
for we are in a deserted place here.”
He said to them, “Give them some food yourselves.”
They replied, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have,
unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people.”
Now the men there numbered about five thousand.
Then he said to his disciples,
“Have them sit down in groups of about fifty.”
They did so and made them all sit down.
Then taking the five loaves and the two fish,
and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing over them, broke them,
and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.
They all ate and were satisfied.
And when the leftover fragments were picked up,
they filled twelve wicker baskets.

  • Was the Twelve apostles’ motive for approaching Our Lord toward the close of that day really their concern for the crowd of five thousand getting something to eat or were they worried about their own dinner? As young men, they had to be hungry too, and they knew they only had a little more than enough for one supper. With the miracle, we can assume the Apostles ate along with the crowd and when the leftovers were gathered up there was enough for a basketful for each of them.
  • We are just like this crowd. We come to Christ’s Church to be taught about the kingdom of God, and to be spiritually healed through the Sacrament of Penance, and then to be fed from the miraculous bread of the Eucharist. The priest himself brings very little: some bread and wine and the desire to do what his Master did at the Last Supper. And the result is something superabundant, for all are fed and satisfied.

Doctrine: The Eucharist[1]

  • The Eucharist is Christ himself, the Bridegroom of his Spouse, the Church.
  • Through the Mass, in which the Eucharist is consecrated (the technical term is “confected”), time and space are mysteriously “opened” and the Last Supper and the Passion of Christ become present.
  • Through the Eucharist, Christ becomes physically present in the Church, keeping his promise that he would always be with us. And because the Eucharist is preserved in the Tabernacle, we can be with him anytime we want.
  • In the Eucharist, we eat the Body and drink the Blood of Christ in Holy Communion, and obtain everlasting life.
  • To receive the Eucharist worthily, one must be a baptized Catholic in a state of grace, understand what one is about to receive, and have kept the Eucharistic fast.
  • Some of the effects of a worthy reception of the Eucharist are intimate communion with Christ, deeper union with the Body of Christ, forgiveness of venial sins, and an increase in graces and virtues in the soul.
  • The Church reserves Consecrated Hosts in the Tabernacle so that the Eucharist can be brought to the sick and so that the faithful can worship the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass.

Practical Application: Eucharistic Adoration

  • Eucharistic devotion is our thanksgiving, reparation, adoration, and petition to Christ present with us in the Blessed Sacrament.
  • We can spend a few minutes after receiving the Eucharist in silent thanksgiving.
  • We can visit Our Lord reserved in the Tabernacle. There we can silently speak with him about anything we please.
  • We can participate in Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
  • We can participate in a Eucharistic procession. It is to be hoped that every parish observes one today.
  • We can adore him remotely, knowing where the nearest Tabernacle is and mentally going there. If you hear a Catholic church bell ringing, know that it is ringing to remind us that Christ is there.
  • We can make spiritual communions expressing our desire to be with him and receive him using a prayer, such as,
    • “I wish my Lord to receive you, with the purity, humility, and devotion with which your most Holy Mother received you, with the spirit and fervor of the saints.”
  • While Catholics honor—but do not worship—Mary (hyperdulia) and the saints (dulia), we do adore or worship Christ in the Eucharist (latria).
  • The Catechism sums up Eucharistic devotion: “Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go to meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and open to making amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration never cease.” (CCC 1380)

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)

This outline is written to be in accord with the Homiletic Directory issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (2014). (To read an excellent summary of the Homiletic Directory, click here.)

[1] Adapted from the Didache Parish Series, Book 5: The Sacraments, Chapters 5 & 6.

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