The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the crowd, which we hear as the gospel reading on this Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Luke 9:11-17), helps us to appreciate the abundance of gifts that come from God. On this day, in particular, we give thanks for the gift of the Eucharist, that source of God’s grace and blessing that is always available to us in the Mass. By first appearance, the Eucharist doesn’t seem like much—a simple piece of bread (the host) and a cup of wine—but we receive this precious gift as the sign of God’s love for us as Jesus gives us his very self. “This is my Body… given up for you. This is my Blood… shed for you.” He lays down his life for us and continues to bestow upon us the effects of that sacrifice. This feast helps us to step back and ponder what is so freely shared with us each time we come to Mass.
As a priest, one of the most fulfilling things I do is celebrate the Mass, and I always try to keep in mind as I do so what a blessing it is to have such a personal encounter with Jesus. We celebrate the ordination of three new priests this weekend: Fr. Matthew DeFusco, Fr. Matthew Himes, and Fr. Tyler Kline. This is a most fitting feast day for them to begin their priestly ministry. As Fr. John and I celebrate with them at ordination, we also renew our own commitment and pledge to serve faithfully in our priesthood.
This week our annual Vacation Bible School is taking place… what a wonderful witness that 150 of our youngsters take time out to learn more about the Word of God and grow in their faith. And even more encouraging is the number of middle and high school youth and adults who give of their time to lead, coach, and mentor. Nearly 100 volunteers will be working hard each day to proclaim the Word of God in a variety of ways. I am grateful for such generous service. Let us pray for God’s Spirit to inspire and encourage our young people to walk with the Lord.
Later this week I will be traveling to Omaha, Nebraska to participate as a speaker and facilitator at a conference on the Church’s role in care for creation and the environment. “Laudato Si’ and the U.S. Catholic Church: A Conference on Our Common Home” will address issues of environment, climate change, and the stewardship of creation in light of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical. The conference will address how the Church in its range of ministries can promote the care of the environment. I will be facilitating the liturgy track and will preside and preach at the closing liturgy of the conference. It is hoped that each of the ministry tracks will formulate an “action plan” with concrete suggestions that can be promoted nationally as suggested best practices.