The Greatest Mystery – Fr. Tom Tank

Fr. Tom Tank’s Homily June 23, 2019

“Today we celebrate this wonderful feast of Corpus Christi and it is a time of deep reflection and meditation upon the Eucharist.  A priest friend of mine who likes to send out jokes and little stories sent me one just a couple days ago and it really in a sense has nothing to do, but may have everything to do with this little homily today.  It seems that there was a Mass and the sermon was kind of dull and it was going on and on and this little 5 year old was looking around the church kind of bored and finally nudges his dad and saw the red sanctuary light that reminds us of the presence of Christ, so he saw the red light and he said, ‘Dad, when the light turns green, can we go home?’  Hope springs eternal that the light will turn green.

Today we are invited to reflect more deeply upon the wondrous mystery of the Eucharist, that mystery of Christ’s presence among us.  Obviously we celebrated this on Holy Thursday when we had the Mass of the Lord’s Supper when the institution of the Eucharist took place where Jesus shared with those apostles in that very first Mass and invited all of us to continue to remember to make him present within the Eucharist itself and what a wonderful gift the Eucharist is.  It’s one of those gifts that we probably have a tendency to take for granted because we share in it so often. It is so readily available to us. I remember one of the times that I came to a deeper appreciation of the Eucharist is when I read a book by a priest who was in a concentration camp in Russia and he was not allowed of course to celebrate the Mass, but every once in awhile he was able to get a little bit of wine and then he was able to take some bread and he had to sit out on one of the benches out in the yard there of the concentration camp and he had to smoke a cigarette as he was celebrating Mass because if he was caught of course he would be severely punished if not killed and so he celebrated the Eucharist there in that simplicity and then he kept some of the consecrated species, the body of Christ and would distribute to some of his fellow prisoners, but it made me appreciate as a young man what a tremendous gift the Eucharist is and how often people have sacrificed and been willing to jeopardize all in order to celebrate the Eucharist and yet it is something unfortunately that we can take for granted.  There’s a great mystery within the Eucharist and for a lot of us it’s the mystery of how God can take bread and wine and transform them into a sacramental real presence that the bread and wine truly through the words of consecration become the body and the blood of Christ. For many that is the mystery of the Eucharist, but I would think that maybe that’s not the point. Yes, there’s something that we don’t understand about that. Yes, we know that there’s a mystery in the fact of transubstantiation of the change of what appears as bread and wine truly into the body and the blood of Christ as promised in John 6 and if you want to think about the transformation read the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel it illustrates it so clearly what Jesus intended and then we sometimes can get bogged down with the how of that transformation, but I think ultimately it’s an act of faith. It’s a realization that God who created this whole universe, God who put all of this together, if he wants to make himself present under the very humble forms of what would appear as bread and wine, but truly as he tells us his own body and his blood that we are invited to accept that reality because of who God is and the power that God has, but the greatest mystery of the Eucharist is not the transformation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, but rather it’s the mystery of God’s love.  It’s a mystery of how God loves us so intensely, so personally that he wants to come to each and every one of us in the Blessed Sacrament in Holy Communion that he wants to be intimately sharing in our life.  That is the true mystery. That’s the miracle of the Eucharist that you and I are that loved by God himself that God truly wants to reside within us that he wants to have that moment of not just face to face, but heart to heart contact.  We are invited to enter into that mystery of how much God loves us not only in Jesus dying upon the cross and rising for us, but his promise to abide with us always that we might experience his presence every time we celebrate the Eucharist and we welcome his body and his blood into our own lives into our own hearts.  Obviously none of us is worthy to receive Holy Communion. None of us is worthy to receive Holy Communion and yet we need to be properly disposed obviously. If we’re aware of serious sin we need to go to reconciliation first we need to physically prepare ourselves maybe from a little bit of abstinence from food beforehand.  We need to mainly prepare our hearts to make sure that our heart, our life is receptive to that presence of Christ that we can approach Christ truly in faith with an openness to the wondrous gift that he shares with us to open our minds and our hearts to experience God face to face, heart to heart, to allow God to touch us deeply to allow his love to soak into our own hearts.

This coming Friday we celebrate the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Sacred Heart is that reminder of the passionate love that God has for each and every one of us that heart that is on fire with love that is on fire with divine life that heart of Christ that comes to us in every experience of the Eucharist that we share.  How tremendously blessed we are. We are invited to reflect upon the mystery of God’s love how tremendously he loves you, and me and all this world. How blessed we are.”