Deacon Cornell’s Homily


Acts 13:14;43-52
Revelation 7:9;14b-17
John 10:27-30


May 5-6 , 2007 Fifth Sunday of Easter, Cycle C

What beautiful readings for this weekend as some of our young parishioners recieve Communion for the first time. Just as the occasion of those coming into the Church through Baptism or Confirmation at the Easter Vigil inspires all of us to spend the 40 days of Lent reflecting on our own baptism and confirmation, so this occasion of those celebrating the 3rd sacrament of initiation, Eucharist, should inspire all of us to reflect on what it is that we do when we celebrate Eucharist every week.

One of the graces of Vatican II was that it rediscovered the communal dimension of our celebrations, and in particular, the sacraments. Since sacraments are mysteries, we cannot think about their richness in one thought. So we constantly change our focus from one aspect to the next as we try to take in all that is present in them. Sometimes we just get stuck on one aspect or the other and start to think that that is all there is. So it is good when we are reminded of other aspects.

Just what is that we are doing each week as we celebrate the Eucharist? Let's take a moment and think about that. (Don't worry I am not going to ask anyone to tell what they thought!)

There are probably as many answers to that question as there are people here. Some might say we are fulfilling our Sunday Mass obligation. Others that we come to give thanks for all that God has blessed us with, while others come to petition God for what seems to be missing in their lives. Some of us come because we are dragged here, either figuratively or literally.

What does the Church think about what we are doing? Our readings give us some great insight and, of course, so do the prayers we say at Mass.

Our second reading was from the Book of Revelation. While many people read this book's apocalyptic style as predicting the events that will happen at the end of time, there others who see them as a description either of events that happened in the first century or events that are unfolding even now, since we are in the last days ever since Jesus ascended into heaven. The passage we heard today proclaims that God's dwelling is with the human race. And this is accompished, not by God snatching up humanity from here to be with God somewhere else. John sees this new mode of living as God coming down from heaven to here. It is here that God dwells with us and wipes away our tears and our mourning and our pain. It is here that God banishes death. God is Emmanuel, God who lives among us. That is the hope that we pray for every time that we say the Lord's Prayer: thy kingdom come ... on earth as it is in heaven.

Our Gospel sheds more light on this mystery. Jesus initiated this end time when God dwells with humans by becoming human himself. God who is love, makes that love visible by clothing it in human form. God dwells with his people when God's love is made visible. Jesus gives us the his plan for continuing and increasing this presence of God: we are to love one another as Jesus loves us. Whew, what a command! Scripture scholars tell us that unlike the command to love in the other Gospels, which expands the concept of loving neighbor to include all, even our enemies, John's vision of this commandment is focused on the Church. The people Christ has gathered to himself is not only created but it is continued in its existence bythis love and this love alone.

So in this season of First Communions, our readings invite us to reflect on the Church's understanding that it is not just a bunch of individuals celebrating Eucharist together but the essence of Eucharist is that the Church itself is celebrating Eucharist, entering into the paschal mystery of Christ that creates and continues it. The revised guidelines for the liturgy published in 2004 reflect that understanding by stating that the normative position for recieving communion is that all stand while all receive. So you may notice that here at St. Isidore we invite all to stand after receiving individually until all have received. Then we all kneel or sit for a time of reflection. This allows us to reinforce with our bodies what is happening: the whole body of Christ is receiving communion, eating the body and blood of Christ which forms us more fully into the body of Christ so that we might go out into the world and make God's love incarnate in that world.

That is why the Church echos Jesus' command in today's Gospel by commanding us to go to Mass each week. Going to Mass and receiving communion is loving one another as Jesus loves us. Not with some generic love of everyone but the specific love John's Gospel is speaking of, the love Jesus gave to create the Body of Christ which would endure till the end of time and which will bring into being the Kingdom of God here on earth.

So let us celebrate this sacrament of initiation week after week with serious intent. As we give thanks and then become formed more fully into the body of Christ which makes God present in our world, we help move the world closer to the time when we will have our tears wiped away and there will be no more death, or mourning, wailing, or pain.

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