Corpus Christi (2011)

Corpus Christi Homily
– 26 June 2011 – by Bishop Brendan Kelly

John 6: 51-58

“The Eucharist: Communion with Christ, Communion with each other”

Somewhere very deep and very dominant in our human hearts is the longing for Communion.

We dread the opposite: loneliness, isolation.  We make a big fuss about 1st Holy Communion. No wonder. We do not want our children to be alone, cut off, out in the cold. Even people whose connection with Church is very tenuous feel it is their right.

And we talk of ‘Communion’ – not just ‘union’!

It allows for difference and individuality, is not about being swallowed up in another – or any loss of individual identity, but rather the affirmation of each one’s unique individuality.

So the Eucharist, Holy Communion, celebrates the fact that this is how God made us, wants us to be: We are made for Communion – with God, with each other.

But words are easy, talk can be cheap. The Gospel today, especially the reaction of the Jews whom Jesus is addressing reveal that communion involves a demanding and costly journey.

There is no easy and cheap way to ‘True’ or ‘Holy’ Communion,
and to the fullness of life for us humans that this brings.  Jesus says “Anyone who eats this bread (my flesh) will live forever…” and “If you do not eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will not have life in you.”

The Preface of today’s mass tells us that Jesus “offered himself as a victim for our deliverance and taught us to make this offering in his memory.”

The Eucharist is an invitation to self-giving, to personal sacrifice, that is total.

No wonder the disciples, who understood that, found it “intolerable”
and quite a few walked away. But this is the heart of love and Christianity
always, a very practical, down-to-earth faith.

Communion is a deep human longing, but its realisation in practice is often extremely expensive: in terms of asking for forgiveness, of being prepared to grant forgiveness, to be men and women of reconciliation. The temptation to walk away remains strong. But where will we, or our families, and our world be without forgiveness, reconciliation. Do we have a choice?

When President Kennedy became President of the United States in the early 60s, the ideal he put before people was, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask rather what you can do for your country.”

The Feast of Corpus Christi issues a similar challenge and call: to a life of service, and of seeking no personal reward, of deep responsibility for how things are in our world, and all so that that holiest and most sacred of all things might be realised: men and women in Communion with our God, in Communion with each other.

We will ponder and reflect on this together as a Diocese, please God, in the course of the coming year, as we walk together towards the 50th International Eucharistic Congress.


May your Holy Spirit transform us into one body,

and lead us to walk humbly on the earth in justice and love,

as witnesses of your resurrection,

in communion with Jesus, with Mary, and with each other.