Permission to podcast/stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE with license #A-730437.
Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the rectory of St. Charles Borromeo, especially to our brothers and sisters at St. Augustine and St. Francis Xavier. As many you may know by now, I was appointed the administrator to these two great parishes in Park Slope, and so until we actually are able to meet in person, perhaps it’s a great opportunity for all of us to get to know each other virtually by logging on to the Zoom here that we have at St. Charles Borromeo where I live. It’s interesting too, for those who may be unfamiliar with Zoom, you’ll quickly find out that your favorite button on there being Mute, so when there’s things going on where you are – they’re making a lot of noise, make sure you Mute yourself. And if you’re the type of person who maybe just rolled out of bed, then the Video button also is another great button to turn that off. So the Mute and the Video buttons are important buttons to get comfortable with as we go through this age of having Zoom masses.
First of all, I just like to also bring a lot of thanks to Mike McGowan who’s done so much in organizing the tech end of things, allowing people in, that’s who brought you in on the meeting today, and Francis Chin who’s his right-hand man and who also I guess we could call the MC or the DJ of the Mass, since he’s able to bring in music and all the other components in order to make this a very full experience. And I think it’s really shows the great dedication of lay members of the parish working together to bring forth during this very difficult time really a taste of home, so to speak, and so a great blessing be able to hear the music that’s often that’s sung here at St. Charles Borromeo – amazing music program here, as I know St. Augustine and St. Francis have great music programs as well. So this is just a taste of what is possible during this age of virtual Mass, which hopefully will not last too long, but I think that we will still be meeting this way for some time, at least in complementing our in-person meetings, which will happen soon.
It’s interesting to begin, so to speak, my ministry, if you will, at St. Augustine and at St. Francis Xavier on this feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, Corpus Christi. Because if there’s one thing that brings the parish community together, it is the celebration of the Eucharist, and as we can hear in the readings, especially our Gospel, there’s a great emphasis placed on the reception of the Eucharist: you must eat my flesh, drink my blood, have eternal life. Jesus says it only about 900 times in this chapter and he says it in such a way to make it very clear that there’s something very, very essential in the Christian life that’s connected to a participation in the celebration of the Eucharist.
And I think for us as Catholics we can sometimes look at this as our card of victory or so of our way of looking at how we’re very distinct from maybe other Christian traditions, because of how much we rely on the sacrament of the Eucharist playing a role in our Christian life – and rightfully so. Yet we know over the last three months, this is the one thing that we’ve not been doing: we have not been going to Mass, we’ve not been receiving Eucharist. Of course, you’ve been experiencing this one online, but not in person, so it really challenges us as Catholics when we understand that the Eucharist is so important, and Jesus himself says is so important to receive Me, and then to not have an opportunity.
I think, though, if we look at the state of our world right now this great feast of the Body and Blood of Christ is revealing to us that the Eucharist is something that is not just celebrated at Mass, it’s something that is realized in so many other ways, in our time and in our society, in our world. Now, I don’t mean this is a way to belittle the celebration of the Eucharist, because it’s the very celebration of the Eucharist that allows us to be able to see all these intricacies throughout.
We talked about the Body and Blood of Christ. The body of Christ really is the human family – the human race, if you will. Yet, we can be more specific and say it’s the body of believers, the Christian family, the church. But yet, the body of Christ is everyone: everyone makes up the body of Christ. Whether one knows it or not, whether one has professed it or not. Everyone somehow participates in this Body, and St. Paul is so good at always talking about how the members of the body work with each other in unison and forming a wholeness.
And I think that the recent events of the last couple of weeks have really showed how the body functions as being a force for healing. I mean I think all of us are still just completely in a haze, if you will, knowing about the horrible death of George Floyd. I know it was something that I cannot get out of my mind. If anyone’s actually watched all eight minutes and 46 seconds of this video, of watching a man – his life being extinguished – it is something that will just be ingrained with you for probably forever. There’s no other way around it.
But yet, if we notice as this man, this person, this member of the body, his life being extinguished, how many of the rest of us ran to this man’s help – if you will – ran to rally around this man’s life as a way to try to bring to the forefront that means of bringing healing to our society. It showed this amazing amount of unity, and people who probably were not even thinking about, say the race issue or police brutality, we’re coming out of the woodwork, to say that there’s something really fundamentally wrong. It was this great moment of unity and it exposed the fact that one person’s wound is an opportunity for many people to run to heal. Yet quickly we know that what this also facilitated was all of our own individual wounds to be exposed. The great unrest in all of our cities, and the great unrest throughout all of our country, really, exposes that all of us have wounds that need to be healed.
And all those wounds are found in just our anger that may feel right now, our frustrations, our desire to work for change, our desire to be frustrated, not knowing how change may come about . Maybe just the same old story happening again and again. And getting tired of being sick and tired, as Fannie Lou Hamer used to say.
We look at this as being in a moment where we’re kind of lost, that the pandemic in and of itself was a moment for making us realize, like what do we do next? When’s this going to end? And now to add this into the mix has made us realize that we need a lot of healing, and the healing happens one person at a time. And when we think about the Body and Blood of Christ, we emphasize the fact that Body and Blood are separated. It just exposes to us the reality that Christ’s Body and Blood were separated on the cross, but the suffering of Christ is connected to our suffering. And because of that, the only way to move forward and to heal is going to be through that same bar.
You know there’s been so much talk over the last few weeks about racism, white privilege and we throw these terms around all the time, and we don’t even may be fully understand what these terms even mean. It’s hard for us to have a full definition of what exactly is racist and what exactly is white privilege.
But I think as Catholic Christians, I think we can make it kind of simple, you know, when we come to a realization that the God who willed us into existence willed the person in front of us into existence. When we come to that awareness, that’s when we’re able to recognize our shortcomings and how we’ve not been able to respect our brother and our sister in front of us. Because if the same God who willed us into existence willed our brother and sister into existence, what are we other to do than to act in a spirit of reverence to this member of the Body: the same type of reverence we would bring into the church and we get down on our knees in front of the tabernacle.
That is the reality of the body of Christ that we are experiencing right now: the broken body of Christ, hung on the cross, but still very much very part of who God is today. We look at the Body and Blood of Christ – Eucharist- to affirm who we are, or better yet, whose we are: beloved sons and daughters of a loving God. But more importantly, too, we also recognize the fact that we are brothers and sisters in Christ, we share a commonality and that’s why I think it’s just so providential that we are able to meet this way: three different parish communities on this Zoom call right now watching this online Mass. This right here is an opportunity for working towards genuine change in our society. We all know that discrimination does not just happen in the secular world. We all know that we make distinctions and separation amongst us as Catholics and we all have an almost a type of competitiveness sometimes when it looks at different communities. We know that there’s different ideologies, of different pastoral visions, of different theological insights, that we all kind of argue and bicker about, but yet the very fact that the three communities right now can be on this one call, so to speak, is an opportunity to show that we can work with each other, to recognize the fact that our brother and sister has been willed into existence by the same loving God, willed us into existence our very person into existence, and that to me is a great opportunity of hope. Amazing things can happen if all of us work together.
I don’t foresee me kind of necessarily checking out of St. Charles Borromeo once I fully move into my role at St. Augustine and St. Francis Xavier – not because I want to hold on to some type of sentimentality here but because of the fact I need this community of St. Charles just as much as I need St. Augustine and Saint Francis Xavier because I learn from all of you. I’m being formed by the body of Christ around and what a great opportunity for us to be able to inform each other, learn from each other listen to each other.
There’s a great opportunity that we have right now that the fact that our churches are just open for prayer, that there’s no sacraments going on and for many of us maybe feel like, well if we’re opening the doors I know we just have Mass and there might be something to say about that, but the very fact that we just have the doors open for prayer gives us a great opportunity to sit and listen. Because if we want to understand how Christ can work in our lives right now when we’re not actually receiving his Body and Blood, we’re being able to listen to the cries of the body within us and around us.
Jesus not only knows our sufferings, but he also knows the sufferings of our brothers and sisters – which by the way our sufferings that we do not know. We do not know the sufferings that our brothers and sisters are going through, and during this time where it’s so easy for us to come to conclusions or to judge or just think that we know exactly what has to happen, and how it has to happen, the opportunity to listen to our hearts can hopefully allow our minds to be opened to the fact that the sufferings of our brothers and sisters around us are real. And they’re ones that we do not know anything about. But the same Christ who knows our sufferings, knows their sufferings. It’s ever more important for us to be in communion with that one Christ who unites us.
So today on this great feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, let us be ever mindful that our Lord is still with us. Our Lord still loves us. But more importantly, our Lord is actually alive in His Body and Blood in the midst of the suffering that we are currently in, and that is the way that we are able to open ourselves to the healing, the grace of the Resurrection that He desires to give to us.
May God bless you all.