When you received the sacrament of Confirmation, you were sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Those gifts are actually specific things, seven attributes that the prophet Isaiah prophesied that the anointed one would have, and that sure enough we saw in the person of Christ, the anointed one. The seven gifts are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, fear of the Lord. In my first parish I taught some of the sessions for the Confirmation preparation and I would spend a decent amount of time on these gifts, getting the young adults to memorize them and then to understand what each was. As part of the discussion I would ask them what gift they felt they needed most, and then after they talked I would share what gift I needed the most. For me it was always “fear of the Lord.” Now of course this gift isn’t being afraid of God, it’s being aware that your Creator, the Trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit, the Lord whom heaven and earth cannot contain… is someone that you know personally, that you talk to, and that you stand before. I pray for this gift because as a priest especially I stand in the midst of holy moments multiple times a day and if I’m not careful my fear is that I will forget that in praying this mass I am talking to the Father himself, or that when I give absolution in the confessional that it is Christ who acts through me, or that when I try to prepare a homily I need to beg the Holy Spirit to guide my thoughts. I fear that what is miraculous will become routine, that what is absolute gift will be taken for granted.
How many masses have you been to in your life? How many times have you heard the priest say “he took bread, and giving thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying…” Let’s be honest, on a very practical level there is an element of routine to what we do here. There have been Sundays where each and every one of us have let our minds go adrift and we walked through the motions of mass by sheer rote memory. It is a struggle, it takes a force of will to be here in this place and to be aware of what we are doing and saying and receiving. And without that effort our minds filter out what is taking place at the altar as a routine of life instead of the miracle of salvation.
On this feast of Corpus Christi, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, the Church gives us a reason, gives an opportunity to turn our attention once again to what takes place at this altar. We receive not bread but the Body of Christ, the eternal sacrifice upon the Cross which has won for us salvation. We receive not wine but the Blood of Christ, poured out in the beginning of a new covenant, a new promise that God has chosen us and we belong to Him. This is no ordinary thing, no routine thing that we do here together. So I invite you today on this feast of Corpus Christi to pray with me that we might all have the fear of the Lord gifted into our hearts by the Spirit, that as we approach this sacred altar we might also know the gift that we receive and be overwhelmed by praise and thanksgiving.
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Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.