It may seem strange for me to talk about Prayer on the Feast Day of Corpus Christi; the body and blood of Jesus. However, this is probably the best way for us to understand this Feast. Corpus Christi became popular throughout the early Church and was eventually adopted by the Universal Church when there was a time of Miracles of the Eucharist that had taken place. Miracles such as Santarem, Lanciano, Bolsena and Flanders, just to mention only a few. Thomas Aquinas wrote the Hymns ‘Tantum Ergo’ and ‘O Salutaris Hostia’, especially for when one of the Eucharistic Miracles was processed held in a monstrance and under a canopy brought from Bolsena in the 13th century to Rome. Thomas Aquinas and many Catholics joined the procession as it made its way towards the Vatican Basilica as the Pope had requested to see the miracle with his own eyes. People took their faith more seriously then. The Eucharist meant more to them than too many Catholics or Christians in our time. In fact, there are those who doubt the true presence of Jesus, even though they confess to being Catholic.
The best way to understand this Feast is actually to talk and discover a living prayer life. If you pray little, your faith will be little. If you pray not at all, how can you have any faith at all? If you feel yourself uneasy when I mention a Sunday Catholic’; that is a person who goes to church on a Sunday but that’s it. Perhaps it’s time to restart our Christian Journey- but this time with the Lord. Prayer allows us to come closer and encounter our Living God. He is a Father, who cares for his child.
The other day I visited a person who told me that only till a few months ago he would pray the rosary every day, and had done so all his life, but that he could rattle the rosary off in well under 15 minutes. Most of the time if there was something pressing, he could at a push complete the whole rosary in ten minutes. Now for the last two months, something has happened in his life that has helped him to appreciate his faith all the more. No longer does he rattle off a rosary. He was a Sunday Catholic, never missed, but it had little or no impact on the rest of his life. He went because he always went. He told me about his faith, “What am I saying Father, I had no faith” I was just going through the motions and didn’t care about the consequences.”
Now, for the last few months, he turns the TV off, sits and in silence says each prayer, each rosary, each word with meaning and sincerity. Why? Because now he knows that it is a conversation with God.
Would we rush to quickly tell our mother we love her, visiting for a few moments and then suddenly leave, or would we spend time? Imagine running in to greet your grandchildren to say hello and then leaving ever so quickly, without any excuse. It would seem extremely odd, wouldn’t it?
That’s why this evening/ this morning it’s good to remind ourselves not to pray too quickly but to remind ourselves that we are in a conversation with those in Heaven. The whole of the Mass is a prayer; a conversation of love unfolding before us, preparing us to meet Jesus in Holy Communion. It’s not a time to do the word search or to look at your watch. This time, a time of prayer is precious. You and I are in conversation with Jesus.
People mostly think of prayer where we tell God something or ask God for something. We must remember that we are not informing God of anything He doesn’t already know.
Many times, before and after the miracles and encounters of Jesus, He would go to a quiet place to pray- to be one with The Father and the Holy Spirit. The disciples saw the connection every day. That is why they asked him- "teach us to pray." We think that he just taught the Our Father but everything he said and did was an act of prayer- leading us to the fullness of prayer: the Eucharist.
He gave the disciples a template- the Our Father- a how-to-guide. It wasn’t until they were commissioned to go out to the whole world that the Apostles would realize that Prayer is not just a word- it’s how you live your life- not just what you say. Some may be tempted to try and use their charm, intelligence, their eloquence to gain God's favour. Real prayer has nothing to do with eloquence. The Pharisees and scribes were known for their long prayers and what did Jesus call them “a brood of vipers.”
God doesn’t need you to tell him what's going on. He already knows! You don't pray to God to inform him. You pray to God to invite him!
You pray to God to invite him into your finances. He already knows when the bills need to be paid or the rent is due. He knows if you need a job, or pass an exam. Prayer is to invite God totally into your life from God’s perspective –not our own. It is to be honest and straight with God because God will be nothing but honest and direct to us. Many can’t handle this. It frightens them to think they are not in control of their own life. The truth is- they think they are but they are not!
To come to Mass is to say, Lord, come into my life; come into both, my good as well as my bad decisions; come into the places where I have overreacted; the deal I shouldn’t have done; when my mouth gets me into trouble. I want your word to be my word.
Jesus said, “My house is a house of prayer,” but if we are truly honest, we find ourselves surrounded at times by a den of thieves or sitting with the brood of vipers! Or even worse we are one of them. No wonder the disciples asked Jesus, “Teach us to pray. “ They wanted to be different. What the disciples were really saying was, Jesus when you’ve been away praying, you come back and you heal the paralytic, you walk on water, you even raise the dead to life. They are saying “Teach us how to do that right there.” They had seen him do so many different miracles with many lives in so many different ways.
So now – we come to Church, not for the Priest, or for the person sitting next to us. We come to Church to invite God into our life. Do you remember when Jesus was asleep on the boat? They are in a tornado and Jesus is at rest. You are always reacting to situations around you. To come into a house of prayer is to find Peace in the Storm – the end result -communion with God. When you’ve been talking to God before the storm you’ve got Peace in the Storm. Because we spent time with the Lord and are open to him his grace changes our nature. It’s not in your nature- it’s in God's nature! The fact is, we cry out “Help” to God so many times! When you don’t have time for eloquence, you tell him straight. How you react in the storm decides how far you are going to go in faith. So- Peace in the storm.
We are called to be a disciple of the Lord. People say whatever they think nowadays. Everyone has their own opinion. Whether they are part of the Woke movement or gender movement. We can only make sense of such rubbish if we talk to God. Because If you talk to God, you know how to talk to other people. So- Discipleship!
When the disciples were confronted by a boy throwing himself into the fire or casting himself in the lake trying to drown the disciples couldn’t cast him out. They were quick to tell Jesus the minute He turned up. Some things you need to take straight to Jesus. Jesus is already present but you're tired of going through the struggle. Disciples said what did I do wrong. If you learn from it, you can't be a failure. All of us have demons -metaphorically speaking in our lives. Gossip, Alcohol, Sex, Greed, Hatred, Gluttony, and Dishonesty. Whatever it may be -take it straight to Jesus and say Lord- my way isn’t working. Show me, teach me to pray. So- confront your demons and allow Jesus to overcome them with you.
When it gets hard to submit to the process, of being Catholic in a godless world; we’ve all been there many times. We have to remember If it got hard for Jesus, it’s going to get hard for us too.
I remember man when she found out she had cancer for the first time, “I was with her when we got the news on my mobile in the middle of B and Q in Middlesbrough.” It’s devastating news! Rocks you to the core and not just the person who has it, but their family members too. Mam said, “Why me?” We’ve all asked that question at some point in our lives. The real answer is hard. For a Christian, it is to embrace the Cross- that is what transforms us! When she asked me, “Why Me?” There were a million easy ways to answer the question but the real answer, the hardest answer was “Why not?” I remember Mam standing silent. I knew she didn’t like the answer I gave. She could have gone off the deep end and hurled anger at me. She didn’t, “You’re right”, she said. “Why not me.” A person can only say that if they have sat with the lord in peace so that when the storm comes- that peace is unmovable. They can accept the hard truth because they have followed Jesus and as He has suffered so we suffer. We become the real Disciple! Mam said later when we knew it was terminal, “I don’t want to be a person who moans and complains.” I looked at her smiled and said, “Do you want the real answer.” “No, I already know.” He took them into Gethsemane so that he could pray himself through submission to the Father's Will. Sometimes the road that God lead you down, or that life carries you on roads you don’t like. Remember God is not there in your life ‘just because He needs you to like him. God is in your life to get you through the times of Gethsemane. Like Jesus therefore, we submit to God’s Divine and loving Will. Mam never once moaned about her pain, nor did she complain about a nurse or at times how they prodded and poked at her. Like Jesus, she submitted to God’s Will.
The feast of Corpus Christi reminds us
Invite God into your life.
Come to Mass to experience His Peace to help us through the times of the storm.
Be the true disciple by your life, confronting your demons head-on and taking them straight to Jesus.
Finally -submission – totally to God’s Will, not our own.
This is why we are here this evening/this morning to let God in, feed us for our journey and be saved for Heaven awaits us. Let us help and support one another as true disciples.