What Have I Given You?

(Homily for Corpus Christi - Body and Blood of Christ, Year B)

Bottom line: The greatest thing I have given to you is the Eucharist - the Body and Blood of Christ.

As I prepare to leave Holy Family Parish, one of the things I ask myself is, "What have I given you?" For your part you have given me many gifts over the years, including material signs of affection such food, clothes, books and, of course, most practical of all, money. I have not sought gifts because at this stage of my life, I have every material thing I need, but still they were nice and I was able to use them to help a few people who really are in need. I thank you for your gifts, but in turn I ask, "What have I given you?"

During my fourteen years here I have given people small material things - a holy card, a scapular, a book, and in a few cases, financial help. To give those things has been tricky because someone else should find out and ask, Why has Fr. Bloom never given me anything? The largest gift I gave was when I had received a small inheritance. A parishioner was going through a terrible time so I asked him to accept part of the inheritance. I also asked him never to tell anyone - and he kept his word. A few years ago he surprised me by giving me a check for the amount I had given him - with some interest. The gift turned out beautifully, but it was for just one man and his family. What have I given you?

Our school children provided the answer. Last week they had a farewell assembly for me. A representative from each class expressed a thank-you, then each student gave me a hand written card. Many of the children said they would miss me - and Samwise. They wished me well in my new parish and thanked me for a variety of things: For being with them in classrooms, playground and parking lot. For celebrating Mass for them and for teaching them about God, the Church and how to pray. One of the students, a second grader, expressed it best. He said, "The greatest time I will always remember is the time you gave me the body and blood."

You know, I may not have given you any material token. I may not have connected with you in my homilies. I may not have been there in your moment of greatest need. I ask your forgiveness for that - or any other way I let you down. On the other hand many of you, I know, do feel gratitude for things I have done for you. But that second grader nailed it. The best thing by far that I have done for you, is to give you the Body and Blood of Christ.

This Sunday we see that the Body and Blood of Christ is the greatest visible gift that we can ever receive. We get some inkling of that in the reading from Exodus. As a sacrifice to God, people offered their main earthly wealth: their livestock - bulls, goats, calves and lambs. What investment portfolios mean to people today, livestock meant to ancient people: security, abundance, a future for them and their children. They offered God a portion of their greatest wealth.

In the Gospel we see Jesus going a step further. His sacrifice goes beyond bulls, goats and lambs. He offers himself. And he does it in a way much greater than even a soldier could do for his country or a husband for his wife and family. Because he is both God and man, he alone can make a total and perfect sacrifice. As we hear today, he takes bread, says the blessing, breaks it and gives it to them, saying, "This is my body." And taking the chalice, the cup, he says, "This is my blood."

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting St. Thomas Aquinas, states that the Eucharist is the "Sacrament of sacraments - all other sacraments are ordered to it as its end." (#1211) In the Sequence, St. Thomas expresses it poetically:

"This the truth each Christian learns,
Bread into his flesh he turns,
To his precious blood the wine.

Here beneath these signs are hidden
Priceless things to sense forbidden;
Signs, not things are all we see:

Blood is poured and flesh is broken,
Yet in either wondrous token
Christ entire we know to be.

To sum up: When I think about my fourteen years at Holy Family I can feel regrets, but also much satisfaction. And by far, the greatest satisfaction, the greatest thing I have given you is the Eucharist - the Body and Blood of Christ.

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Intercessions for Corpus Christi (from Priests for Life)

Spanish Version

From Archives (Corpus Christi - Year B):

2015: Through Him Week 1: A Dynamic Presence
2012: Afflicted with Hunger
2009: What Have I Given You?
2006: Language of the Body
2003: To Worship His Body and Blood
2000: Combatting Impatience

From Archives:

2015: Through Him Week 1: A Dynamic Presence
2014: Like Someone Dying of Hunger
2013: Eucharistic Coherence
2012: Afflicted with Hunger
2011 Corpus Christi Homily: Afflicted with Hunger
2010: Why Do I Have To Go To Mass?
2009: What Have I Given You?
2008: Who May Receive Communion?
2007: Our Daily Bread
2006: Language of the Body
2005: Reverence for Eucharist
2004: Communion for Kerry?
2003: To Worship His Body and Blood
2002: Broken Bread
2001: The Eucharist Makes It Through
2000: Combatting Impatience
1999: Notes for Homilist
1998: This is My Body
Jesus: True Bread of Life (How to Receive and Reverence the Eucharist)

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