June 10, 2015
Bishop LaValley’s homily for the Corpus Christi Mass and Eucharistic Procession at St. Andrew’s Church, Norwood, June 7
This afternoon, here at St. Andrew’s Church, on this, the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Church relives the mystery of Holy Thursday, only this time we relive it in the light of the Resurrection of Jesus. You remember that there is also a Eucharistic Procession on Holy Thursday, when the Church repeats the departure of Jesus from the Upper Room (the scene of the Last Supper) to the crucifixion site.
In the Holy Thursday Procession, the Church accompanies Jesus to the Mount of Olives: it is the desire of the Church in prayer to keep watch with Jesus, not to abandon Him on the night of betrayal, on the night of the indifference of many people. It is the desire to accompany and to stay awake with Jesus in the midst of the agony.
This day, on the Feast of Corpus Christi, we again enter a procession, but this time in the joy of the Resurrection. The Lord is risen and leads us. In the Resurrection stories, there is a common and essential feature: the angels say: the Lord “goes ahead of you to Galilee, where you will see him” (Mt. 28:7). In Israel, Galilee was considered to be the doorway to the pagan world. And in reality, precisely on the mountain in Galilee, the disciples see Jesus, who tells them: “Go…and make disciples of all the nations” (Mt. 28:29). My sisters and brothers, Jesus goes before us next to the Father, rises to the heights of God and invites us to follow Him.
In his commentary of the Feast of Corpus Christi, (from Heart of the Christian Life, Benedict XVI, 2010) Pope Benedict XVI tells us that the true purpose of our journey in life is communion with God. We can be elevated to the dwelling places marked out for us only by going “toward Galilee,” traveling on the pathways of the world, taking the Gospel to all nations, carrying the gift of His love to the women and men of all times. The Holy Thursday Procession accompanies Jesus in His solitude toward the way of the Cross. Today’s Corpus Christi Procession responds instead in a symbolic way to the mandate of the Risen Christ: I go before you to Galilee. Go to the extreme ends of the world, take the Gospel to the world.
The strength of the Sacrament of the Eucharist goes above and beyond the walls of our Churches. In this Sacrament, the Lord is always journeying to meet the world. This “going out to the world” is symbolically expressed in our Eucharistic Procession into the streets of Norwood this afternoon. In fact, if you think about it, our door-to-door parish visitations as part of our diocesan-wide census project is another procession of sorts from the parish church into the streets of our North Country.
This afternoon, we bring Christ, present under the sign of bread, onto the streets of your village here in Norwood. We entrust these streets, these homes, our daily life, to His goodness. May our streets be streets of Jesus! May our houses be homes for Him and with Him! May our everyday lives be penetrated by His Presence.
Every year, on May 31st, the Church celebrates the Second Joyful Mystery, the Feast of the Visitation. When she entered Elizabeth’s house, Mary’s greeting was overflowing with grace: John leapt in his mother’s womb. In a certain way, we can say that Mary’s journey was the first Eucharistic procession in history. Mary, living tabernacle of God made flesh, is the Ark of the Covenant in whom the Lord visited and redeemed his people. Jesus’ presence filled her with the Holy Spirit.
May the visit of the Eucharistic Christ on the streets here, be a source of renewed vigor and deepened faith. Let us pray to our holy Mother, so that she may help us to open our entire being to Christ’s presence; so that she may help us to follow Him faithfully, day after day, on the streets of our life. Mary offered her own flesh, her own blood to Jesus and became a living tent of the Word, allowing herself to be penetrated by His Presence in body and spirit. May we do likewise. May God be praised…forever may God be praised!