The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
June 6, Luke 9: 11-17
This the truth each Christian learns,
Bread into flesh he turns,
To his precious Blood the wine.
This Sunday the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord. Formerly, as many remember, this was the Feast of Corpus Christi celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. I believe it was Pope John Paul II who switched it to the Sunday after Trinity Sunday where it is now. On this day we celebrate surely one of the greatest gifts of God to his people: His Body and Blood under the appearances of bread and wine.
This year, as I considered this celebration, thoughts of the virtue of Piety came into my mind. I believe this is a good virtue to consider on this feast. Piety is a highly desired virtue that enables us to respect our responsibilities to others.
Piety is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. To refresh our memories, these seven gifts are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. Piety may be likened to reverence or awe. Piety gives us a deep sense of reverence and respect for God and is closely related to the virtue of humility. The person with piety realizes his/her complete dependence on God and with piety comes before God with humility, trust and love. St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that piety is a gift whereby, at the Holy Spirit’s instigation, we pay worship and duty to God our Father. The word “duty” in Thomas’ definition helps us realize that piety is also part of the virtue of justice. It causes us to give God his just due, his right, to our reverence, awe and respect.
It goes without saying that this virtue also extends to our many relationships with other human beings and does not end with God. It causes us to respect the responsibilities we have toward others and to be aware of our own position in society with respect to others. Piety brings reverence and awe for all God’s creation when you come right down to it. Environmentalists and animal lovers are also pious people.
Piety is one of the virtues that can easily turn into a head trip. It can be so easy to assume a pious attitude, acting out the part, without really having the virtue extend to our hearts. Phony piety can be observed quite regularly. We have to watch out for this in our own lives.
Piety goes to the heart through prayer and meditation on our place in society, on God’s creative powers and the beauty and intricacy of all his creation. My Dad was a pious man with regard to his gift of playing the violin. He would play for a while and then the tears would stream down his face. He reverenced the music and his gift to be able to play it.
With regard to the Eucharist, it is easy take this great gift for granted. We receive it so often and it can become just another habit. We must remind ourselves constantly just what and who it is we are receiving in the Eucharist, that this IS Body and Blood of our Redeemer.
Monday of the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time
June 7, Mt. 5: 1-12
Our Gospel chosen to be read at today’s Liturgy is taken from the beginning of Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, probably the best known and most quoted verses of Matthew’s Gospel. The Sermon on the Mount may be divided into 5 different parts: the Beatitudes, the antithetical statements, teachings regarding various attitudes and actions necessary for disciples of the Lord, the Our Father, and various warnings and exhortations. Really, this Sermon sums up the whole mission of Jesus who came to make all things new.
The first part, the Beatitudes, are guide lines for living as a disciple of the Lord. Even those who may be wealthy are to live as “beggars,” not letting their wealth get in the way of serving God and others. The true disciple will find comfort despite the tragedies of the world that cause mourning. The disciple of the Lord is to be humble and considerate. They will be in right relationship with God, neighbor and the rest of creation much as we spoke of on Sunday in our consideration of the virtue of piety. The true disciple will be merciful and forgiving of others. The sixth Beatitude tells the disciple not to worship false gods and the seventh encourages them to be peacemakers among the general population, to promote well-being in every area of life. The true disciple will remain faithful despite difficulties and struggles. And the ninth Beatitude has them finding joy even in trials. Joy and suffering are not contradictory feelings.
These Beatitudes paint a whole new picture of behavior for the human being who wishes to be a disciple of the Lord. And we must remember that we surely cannot rise to this level on our own. Let us call on the Lord’s help daily to assist us in our discipleship.
Tuesday of the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time
June 8, Mt. 5: 13-16
The Sermon on the Mount continues by telling the disciples they are already the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Salt had many necessary uses in the time of Jesus. It was used pretty much as it is still used today to season food, to preserve food, and in various purification rites. To eat salt with someone signified friendship and loyalty (does this have anything to do with putting salt on the edge of a margarita glass?). Salt is a symbol that helps the disciple preserve and savor God’s love for the world. Salt loses its goodness if we lose our ardor, reverence and love for Jesus.
Disciples are also the light of the world. In the Scriptures darkness is synonymous with evil while light is virtue. Light dissipates the darkness of sin and keeps us focused on God’s way, truth and life. Without light we cannot see and will stumble and fall into evil. With these two symbols, salt and light, the disciples of Jesus will be able to influence the whole world.
Wednesday of the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time
June 9, Mt. 5: 17-19
Jesus tells us many times in Scripture that he was going to change things as the Messiah of God, that he was going to make all things new. This doesn’t mean he was going to destroy everything and start all over. Rather he was going to build on the present structure and make it better. Jesus came, in his own words, to fulfill and not to abolish.
We have seen this already in the Beatitudes and in considering ourselves to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. And it will become more apparent when we consider the antitheses that make up the third part of the Sermon on the Mount. This Gospel serves well to tell us that we can always make progress. We can take what we have, what we are, and improve it. Progress is always going to be possible for the human being because we will never be perfect.
Thursday of the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time
June 10, Mt. 5: 20-26
Today’s Gospel begins the antitheses found in the Sermon on the Mount and demonstrate how Jesus fulfilled the law with his teachings. Each antithesis begins with the phrase “You have heard” and ends with the phrase “But I say to you.” For example, the first one in today’s Gospel: “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, you shall not kill. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.”
We must be careful how we speak to one another. Sometimes we say things in a teasing or fun-meant way and end up hurting the other person who may be more sensitive than we realize. We have to be careful with teasing others. It is easy to go too far. Here it is better to err on the side of not making the remark in the first place rather than chance hurting the person. It is good for us to encourage and compliment others. Then we don’t have to worry about harming them in any way with our speech.
The Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
June 11, Luke 15: 3-7
The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus that we celebrate today is one of the many devotions to Christ found in the Catholic Church. The Anglicans and the Lutherans also have this devotion. What is it all about? Pope Pius XI wrote: “The spirit of expiation and reparation has always had the first and foremost place in the worship given to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus”.
The origin of this particular devotion came from a private revelation made to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French Roman Catholic nun. The feast has been celebrated yearly in the Church since 1856 and, for one reason or another, always 19 days after Pentecost. Hence, this feast always falls on a Friday.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Saturday of the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time
June 12, Immaculate Heart of Mary
Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1944, to be celebrated on Aug. 22, the octave of the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. In 1969, Pope Paul VI moved the celebration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to the Saturday immediately following the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The devotion of the Immaculate Heart of Mary refers to all the joys and sorrows of Mary and above all to her love for her Son and he love for all people.
Mary, Mother of Jesus, pray for us.