Corpus Christi Sunday – Year A

Homily Thoughts

  • 2017 – The bread of life — answer to the deepest desire in health food. Imagine how many people would be here today if we truly believed that the Eucharist is the bread of eternal life, the immortal food. People travel throughout the whole world trying to find the cure to diseases and make millions off the latest health foods… for over 2,000 years we have had the cure to the problem that plagues every person = death. Death of the soul. Q. What if the Catholic Church decided to hand out $500 instead of the Eucharist? Would you be more excited to come?



  • Corpus Christi is a doctrinal feast established in honor of Christ present in the Eucharist. Its purpose is to instruct the people in the mystery, faith, and devotion surrounding the Eucharist. The celebration of the feast evolved during the 13th and 14th centuries. The Berengarian heresy of the mid-11th century (named after Berengar of Tours) taught that the Eucharist was only the figure of Christ. By the 13th century reception of communion was less emphasized and was to some extent superseded by merely seeing the Host. In 1209 Juliana of Liege had a vision which demanded a feast specifically for the Eucharist. After much persuasion, the feast was celebrated for the first time in 1247, and Pope Urban IV extended it to the Universal Church in 1264. Although there is trustworthy evidence that Saint Thomas Aquinas composed two offices for the feast, it is by no means clear that the office now used is from his pen.


Homily Resources: 

Every Word from the Mouth of God by Bishop Barron
  • This feast distinguishes the distinctiveness of Christianity. No religion apart from Christianity would speak of eating the body & drinking the blood of the one they revere (Judaism = Moses, Islam = Mohammed, etc).
  •  St. Paul 2nd reading = koinonia.
  • Jesus is a field of force in which we now participate. Nowhere is this strangeness more evident than in the 6th chapter of John.
  • How do we make sense of this strange and troubling language? Our 1st reading provides an interpretive key. From the book of Deuteronomy.
  • Manna = what is that? 
  • Jesus explicitly ties His teaching to this story = the living bread that has come down from heaven… a new living bread has come down… his flesh… which will feed the pilgrim people that will make their way out of the slavery of sin.
  • What matters as far as Moses is concerned? The Word that comes forth from the mouth of God…
  • An awful lot to chew on = pun intended.
Fr. Matthew Gossett



Commentary Resources:

Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16
  • General — On the plains of Moab, God charges Moses, now close to death, once more to proclaim the Law which he received through the revelation on Mount Sinai. This proclamation is contained in the 5th and last book of the Pentateuch called in Hebrew had-deb harim (the words) and by the Septuagint deuteronomion (second law). Moses is addressing a new generation of Israelites, all those who would have been under the age of 20 when the exodus began. By having the Law read again, Yahweh is saying that His covenant with Israel is made with all generations (Deuteronomy 29:13), past, present, and future: it is an everlasting covenant. We will read all of Deuteronomy chapter 8 in order to appreciate the context of today’s reading.  (SCB)
  • General — Here a new reason is given for the Wandering: it was not only a punishment for despair and presumption, it was also a time of testing, an education of the people to make them realize their utter dependence on Yahweh ~ CCHS 266

“Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (8:3).

  • The Good Person is Never in Want. Clement of Alexandria: One who possesses the Word, who is almighty God, needs nothing and never lacks any of the things he desires, for the Word is an infinite possession and the source of all our wealth. However, someone may object and insist that he has often seen the just in need of food. This is rare and happens only where no one else is just. Besides, let him read the beautiful sentence, “It is not by bread alone that the just man lives, but by the Word of the Lord,” who is the true bread, the bread of heaven. The good man is never really in want as long as he keeps intact his adherence to faith in God. For he can ask for and receive whatever he needs from the Father of all, and he can enjoy whatever belongs to him, if only he obey his Son. Then too, he has this advantage, that he can be free from feeling any want. The Word, who acts as our educator, gives us riches. There is no need to envy the wealth of others with those who have gained freedom from want through him. He who possesses this sort of wealth will inherit the kingdom of God.
2nd Reading – 1 Corinthians 10:16-17
  • General — Saint Paul established the Christian community at Corinth during his second missionary journey (A.D. 50-52). He preached the gospel there for a year and a half, aided by Silas and Timothy. After he left Corinth, the city had a series of apostolic visitors. Apollos, a brilliant preacher (Acts 18:24-26) arrived about a year after Paul left. It is likely that around this time Peter also paid a short visit to Corinth, although it is not recorded. This letter was written shortly before Easter 57 and offers the Corinthians guidance on some areas that they have found problematic. One of the problems which Paul addresses is the significance of social gestures. The idea of unity and fellowship with God through eating a sacrifice was strong in Judaism and Christianity as well as in paganism. In Old Testament days, when a Jew offered a sacrifice, he ate a part of that sacrifice as a way of restoring his unity with God, against whom he had sinned (Deuteronomy 12:17-18). By participating in temple banquets (there were temples dedicated to the cult of the emperor, to various Greek deities, and to Egyptian gods in Corinth), Christians had no intention of worshiping idols, but Paul believed that such social gestures had an objective significance independent of the intentions of those who made them; they gave the appearance of acceptance and worship, even when it was not intended. He makes his point by using the Eucharist as an example of a banquet of unity. Catholic Christians participate in Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice when they eat and drink the Body and Blood of Our Lord in Holy Communion.  (SCB)
  • BARCLAY — General —  Out of this ancient set of beliefs comes one permanent principle–a man who has sat at the table of Jesus Christ cannot go on to sit at the table which is the instrument of demons. If a man has handled the body and blood of Christ there are things he cannot touch. One of the great statues of Christ is that by Thorwaldsen; after he had carved it, he was offered a commission to carve a statue of Venus for the Louvre. His answer, was “The hand that carved the form of Christ can never carve the form of a heathen goddess.”

16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?

  • Saint Paul begins his argument by establishing a common ground. The Corinthian Christians accept the identification of the bread and wine of the Eucharist with Christ and believe that the sharing of this meal produces a common-union (communion), a shared-union (koinonia in Greek) – a union which has two focuses: Christ, and other believers. Note that the “cup of blessing” is the third cup of the Passover meal.
  • That bread which you see on the altar, having been consecrated by the word of God, is the Body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, consecrated by the word of God, is the Blood of Christ. Through that bread and wine the Lord Christ willed to commend to us His Body and the Blood which He poured out for the remission of sins. If you have received worthily, you are what you have received.” [Saint Augustine of Hippo (ca. A.D. 391), Easter Sunday Homily, 227]

17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

  • Sharing the one life-source, the Body of Christ, all believers constitute one body whose diversity is rooted in its unity. All consecrated bread constitutes the one loaf as Christ is present wholly (Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity) in each piece so that it all becomes the one loaf.
  • “‘Because the Bread is one, we, the many, are in one body.’ ‘Why do I say “communion?’” He 4 says; ‘for we are that very Body.’ What is the Bread? The Body of Christ! Not many bodies, but one Body. For just as the bread, consisting of many grains, is made one, and the grains are no longer evident, but still exist, though their distinction is not apparent in their conjunction; so too we are conjoined to each other and to Christ. For you are not nourished by one Body while someone else is nourished by another Body; rather, all are nourished by the same Body.” [Saint John Chrysostom (A.D. 392), Homilies on the First Epistle to the Corinthians 24,2(4)]
  • When you see [the Body of Christ] lying on the altar, say to yourself, ‘Because of this Body I am no longer earth and ash, no longer a prisoner, but free. Because of this Body, I hope for heaven, and I hope to receive the good things that are in heaven, immortal life, the lot of the angels, familiar conversation with Christ. This Body, scourged and crucified, has not been fetched by death. … This is that Body which was blood-stained, which was pierced by a lance, and from which gushed forth those saving fountains, one of blood and the other of water, for all the world.’ … This is the Body which He gave us, both to hold in reserve and to eat, which was appropriate to intense love; for those whom we kiss with abandon we often even bite with our teeth.” [Saint John Chrysostom (A.D. 392), Homilies on the First Epistle to the Corinthians 24,4(7)]


Gospel – John 6:51-59


“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in them” (v. 56)

  • This is covenant imagery. When people are bound by a common covenant, they are part of the same family. A person may be cast out of the tribe for drinking blood, but in doing so in this case they are made a member of the Body of Christ; an even bigger and more important family. By eating His body and drinking His blood, they are partaking in the family meal which binds them together. John 15:4 utilizes this same covenant imagery. (SCB)
  • The Christian shares a communion with Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16). How is this communion shared with Christ and the Christian community? The same way every family shares communion; by sharing a common meal – the Eucharist.


58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

  • This is the third time in this discourse (verses 31, 32 and 49) that Jesus compares the true Bread of Life, His own Body, with the manna God used to feed the Israelites every day during their 40 years of wandering. That bread was only a faint type of the Eucharist, the sacrament of life. It sustained them for 40 years; this will sustain them through all eternity.
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