Note: Below you will find the homily I delivered for this Sunday, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. My hope is to post homilies here regularly, in slightly edited form since they don’t always translate well from spoken word to the screen.
Also, the readings can be found here: Readings for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi
Do miracles happen? Sometimes, I think we’ve lost a sense of the miraculous, so we don’t know how to answer this question. Our society at large has certainly lost a sense of the miraculous. After all, science and reason can explain everything, right? For many people there is no room left for wonder and, I would argue, no room left for grace, because we have such a difficult time believing in true miracles. And yet, we still hunger for miracles every single day of our lives. Our culture denies the possibility of miracles found in scripture, found in our faith, and then people turn to other places and other practices looking for, expecting, miracles.
Case in point, I was in San Diego these past few days for a friend’s ordination to the priesthood and one evening, as I visited a local street market, I noticed all sorts of vendors and artisans. It was a great experience, but I also noticed many of these vendors and some of the shops promoting things like crystals, reiki, tarot, and other New Age practices. Many of these booths and shops were filled with people, looking for miracles. I wondered if I were to walk up to them and offer them the greatest miracle of all, the body and blood of our Lord, if they would accept it? I think most of us know the answer to that question, since, in our society, Christian belief has become somewhat passé, if not outright opposed, in many places.
People look for miracles all around them, but we miss the ones right in front of our faces, or we see them and we say, “Yeah, OK, that’s not really a miracle.” For example, we have today’s Gospel. With five loaves and two fish, Jesus feeds five thousand people. In fact, there are even leftovers: we read that “they all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets.” Here we have a true miracle, a working of God’s grace, but from many places, you will hear that it didn’t happen, that Jesus was simply encouraging people to share what they already had. In this miracle of the feeding of the five thousand from just a few loaves and fishes, Christ doesn’t encourage people to share; he literally multiplies what he has many times over, showing the people the power of God’s grace actively working in their lives, foreshadowing the Eucharist that is to come. Yes, sharing, compassion, and generosity are good things, holy things that we need to integrate into our lives, but that is not the lesson of today’s Gospel, nor is it the lesson of today’s feast day, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.
The lesson we find in today’s scripture and in today’s solemnity is one of trust. Trust in the power of God to do amazing things in our lives, especially when we least expect them. The crowds were hungry and despondent; they didn’t know where their next meal was going to come from. No, this account that we read is a lesson of trust: trust in God’s grace that He will provide, and he does provide for the people, just as He provides for us here with His Body and Blood. This is a lesson in trust that yes, miracles do happen.
Miracles do happen my friends, and we will have another one right here at the altar. We have already prayed today that we may, “revere the sacred mysteries of your Body and Blood that we may always experience in ourselves the fruits of your redemption” and in a short time, we will come face to face with Jesus Christ in his body and blood which will become present here on the altar. Some people say that feeding of the 5000 was symbolic, not a real miracle. It was real, and it wasn’t symbolic. Some people also say that the Eucharist is symbolic, not a real miracle. The Eucharist is real, the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ and we, you and I, have the blessed opportunity to experience this miracle first hand, just as the first disciples experienced it at the Last Supper. The world offers many so-called miracles for our lives, but here, we have a true miracle, the Eucharist, which we celebrate today on this feast of Corpus Christi. In this miracle, we are reminded that Jesus is “the living bread that came down from heaven… [and] whoever eats this bread will live forever.” Miracles do happen.
Miracles do happen – it happened when the five thousand were fed, it will happen again here when Christ is made present in the Eucharist. One more miracle that will come to us, if we allow it when we come forward as one Body of Christ and are sent out into the world, is the miracle of transformation. On this feast of Corpus Christi, we venerate the Body and Blood of Christ, but we also need to recognize what this means for us personally. When we receive the Eucharist, Christ enters us and renews us so that we can take that renewal back out into the world. The Eucharist and the graces we receive from it is not something we keep here in the church, nice and tidy, ready to be revisited next Sunday. Instead, we receive the miracle of our Lord and we can become miracle workers out in the world, working as the hands and feet of our Lord Jesus Christ, bringing His message of mercy and redemption to the four corners of the Earth. We become walking miracles of sorts because, without the grace of God, without the Eucharist, without Jesus Christ, none of this would happen and yet, He makes it happen in each one of our lives.
As we prepare to receive this Eucharist, a true miracle and that feeds and nourishes us, just as the 5000 were fed and nourished by Christ, let us pray and consider how God might be working in our own lives, how He might want to use us to be miracle workers in the lives of others. Brothers and sisters, miracles do happen, if we trust in the Father and the action of the Holy Spirit, praying with the words of Melchizedek, that we will be “blessed by God Most High, the creator of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High”, who has given us a gift beyond all miracles we could possibly imagine: the gift of His Son Jesus Christ.