Kuwait City, 20-22 June 2014
Homily of the Apostolic Nuncio
His Grace Archbishop Petar Rajič
The celebration of the sacrifice of the Eucharist is the most holy action we humans accomplish on earth, for in every Mass, the Son of God is once again incarnated before us on all the altars of the world around which we gather as a community of faith. He comes to us in the outward form of bread and wine, yet we know and believe that through the prayers and actions of the priest that they are transformed into the very Body and Blood of Christ. Christ therefore comes to us in every celebration of the Eucharist and invites us to partake of his Body and Blood which gives us true life.
Two words of the Gospel are essential for understanding the meaning of the text and the liturgy today: bread and life. These words are essential parts of our existence for they remind us of our humanity and how we need to eat in order to live. We can however ask ourselves right away, what is it that truly makes us live and gives us life? Is it just the food we eat, however little or abundant it may be? Though we should always be grateful for the food we receive from God’s goodness and the fruit of our labours, we know that food alone cannot satisfy the hunger for life and meaning that is within us. Moses reminded God’s chosen people that man does not live by bread alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord (Dt 8:3). Jesus repeated these same words while he was being tempted by the devil in the desert. Mankind truly lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, that gives us life, meaning, consolation, inspiration, motivation and hope for the future. We can therefore say that we owe our lives to God, who gives us himself as bread from heaven and the word of life.
We all have our own life stories and each of us is still on his or her journey. Again the words of Moses remind us of God’s care for each and every one of us: You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments, or not.
Moses was referring to the decades long journey of the chosen people of Israel, but now these words of the past have meaning for us today as well, for we are invited to remember our own journey. Remember the difficult times when you thought everything was over, when you were overwhelmed with worry and saw no way out, and yet, in some unexplainable way, a source of love, encouragement and hope, through an event or a friend, came to you at the right moment to give you strength to continue your journey. Remember also the moments when you were in the wilderness of your lives, when you thought you could do everything alone and all you came across was barren desert, where nothing grows and you were forced to rethink your life and make a return to God. And the Lord came to you surprisingly as reinvigorating food, as manna in the desert, giving you strength to continue your journey.
What seemed impossible suddenly became possible and hopefully these moments helped you become aware of the fact that you cannot live alone, closed in within the small world of your personal problems, but that there exists an eternal love that accompanies you and every one of us, drawing us towards himself. If we have been able to survive the difficult and trying moments of our earthly existence and have not turned into an arid, inhospitable and infertile desert, then we owe this to God. Our remembrances are then part of our constant dialogue with God, through our prayers and our deeds, which help us remain in touch with the source of our life.
Each time therefore, when we come to celebrate the Holy Eucharist, we receive the Body and Blood of Christ the Lord, who in the little consecrated host comes to us as our bread of life. He himself is our spiritual nourishment for our life journey towards his Kingdom. He reminds us of his saving work in the past and encourages us to continue our dialogue with him today, by trusting in the Father’s will for us, obeying his word and by searching for him with all our heart and mind. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. Christ the Lord who left us his Body and Blood in the bread and wine we consecrate during Mass, is reaching out to us in order to transform us into his image. By receiving Holy Communion we too confirm that we want to become a chosen nation of God, men and women prepared to offer up their lives for others and be as “good as bread” especially to those in need.
In celebrating the solemnity of Corpus Christi, we express our faith in the Body of Christ, which is the real presence of Jesus in our midst, and we are called to be part of the Body of Christ, which is also the people of God, the Church. Therefore remember dear friends, God’s goodness towards you in the past and do not forget those amongst us who are in desperate need today of bread and of life. Remember therefore, the poor and disadvantaged who hunger for an opportunity to better themselves and their standard of living; all the victimized that hunger for the respect and compassion which is their due; those who have been treated unjustly who hunger for a fair hearing; the lonely, abused and neglected that cry out in hunger for someone to care for them; estranged friends or relatives who hunger to be included once again in family gatherings; the sick and the dying that hunger for the comfort of companionship.
The one who feeds on me will have life because of me. Jesus offered up his body for the life of the world. We who partake in his Body and Blood are invited to live by faith in the One who has loved us completely and to spread that love throughout the world by our example, so that others may live as well.