Homily from June 10th 2012 - The Most Holy Body & Blood of the Lord (Corpus Christi) Year B

A homily for for Corpus Christi.
(Available via iTunes as a Podcast, just search in iTunes Store for John Scanlon.)

First: Exodus 24:3-8
Psalm: Psalm 115
Second: Hebrews 9:11-15
Gospel: Mark 14:12-16, 22-26

If you prefer to listen to the homily please click here.

The Most Holy Body & Blood of the Lord (Corpus Christi) Year B

Bread is one of our most basic foods. You take some grain seeds, like wheat, you grind them up so that the goodness that is food for the next wheat plant becomes a powder called flour. You add some water, salt, fat, sugar and if you have time yeast. Mix it up and bake the resulting dough. It smells wonderful, tastes wonderful and is one of the main reasons I am a little rounder than I should be.

Wine, is a party drink, a drink of weddings and celebrations. It's the juice of grapes, left to ferment. Most grapes have enough yeast naturally on their skins so they naturally ferment. Just crush the grapes and leave the juice for a few days, strain it and seal it in air tight bottles or wine skins and over time it develops into a wonderful intoxicating drink. Yes, another reason for my roundness.

So why do we place such importance on simple bread and wine?

The importance is not the bread and wine we offer at Mass, but what they become. After we make present on this Alter the last supper, Christ's passion and the heavenly banquet that awaits us all, we no longer have our simple bread and wine, but our Lord and God present, right here with us, present in the form of bread and wine.

The Second Vatican Council refereed to the Eucharist, the part of the Mass where we get to take our Lord into ourselves, as the source and summit of the Christian life. The highest point of our worship, where we get to gaze in silent awe at the body of our Lord. The source of our Christian strength, the energy needed to fuel our Christian lives.

Today in these very small passages from the old and new testaments we heard about the history of the Eucharist. It's a wonderfully rich story, that is woven into four thousand years of holy writing.

Please try and picture the scene, two and a half million people have just walked into a desert and are camped at the base of a mountain. At the top of the mountain their leader is talking to God. You can only tell this from the smoke, cloud, lightning and thunder covering the mountain top and the trembling ground beneath your feet. Your leader, a man named Moses, walks down and tells you how God wants you to live. How God wants to be part of your life and the promise he is making to you.

A few years later, you are deep in the desert, it is a special day, the day of atonement, when the high priest, Moses' brother a man called Aaron, will make the sacrifices needed to purify you from the sins you have committed.  A tent stands in the centre of the camp, surrounded by a wall of cloth 150ft long and 75ft wide. Within this tent, or tabernacle as it's called, behind a curtain in the Holy of Holies, is the Arch of the Covenant, the gold box holding the promise God made on that day on the mountain.

Aaron, only on this day may enter the Holy of Holies, he takes blood from sacrificed bulls, and sprinkles the Arch, a washing away, an atonement, for the nations sins. Every year the priests would need to do this, every year the nation, every member of the nation, would turn their back on Gods law. Every year new sacrifices would be needed to make things right with God again.

Years later, when we were ready, God choose to visit us. He sent his own Son, Jesus. He came as a man fully human and as God fully Divine. Jesus spent more than thirty years with us, living with us, teaching us, loving us. Then he did something unique, he replaced the lives and blood of the bulls with his own life, his own blood.

As Aaron sacrificed the lives of the bulls, Jesus sacrificed his own life. As Aaron walked alone into the Holy of Holies, Jesus opened the doors of heaven to us. As Aaron sprinkled blood over a nation to wash away their sins, Jesus washes not our outsides but our insides, fills our souls and hearts with his blood. Unlike Aaron's sacrifice, Jesus' will last. One sacrifice for all time. One gift for everyone.

In a few minutes, you are going to witness a miracle. On this alter we will see made present, the last supper, we will see Christ die on the cross, we will see him open heaven and forgive us our sins through the gift of his precious blood. He will offer us his perfect and divine body and blood, to purify us heart and soul, to empower us to do his work, to fuel of our Christian journey, the highest point in our Christian life.


  1. Nice homily John. Just one point I would like to make though, it is not we who make Christ present on the altar it is the Holy Spirit through the words and actions of the priest.

    God bless you,

    1. Thank You Brendan, Yes you are absolutely right. Thanks for the correction.
      God Bless,