Sermons

Solemnity of Corpus Christi (II Pentecost)

June 3, 2018

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. AMEN.

I would like to begin this morning with a certain period of time during Holy Week.  It is not a liturgy – although the liturgies of Holy Week are extremely significant.  What I would like to talk about is a time in between two of the liturgies of Holy Week.  Specifically, I am talking about the time between the end of the Good Friday Liturgy and the receiving of communion at the First Eucharist of Easter at the Easter Vigil.

What is so significant about this time in the whole of the year?  It is the only time during the entire year that the sacramental presence of Jesus Christ is not in the tabernacle.  In case you are not aware, at the Good Friday Liturgy, we receive communion from the sacrament which was consecrated on Maundy Thursday evening. 

This same sacrament is what is processed to the Garden of Repose.  Members of our Parish Family sign up to spend an hour with Jesus in the Garden, hopefully remaining awake – unlike the first disciples! 

By the end of the Good Friday Liturgy, all of the sacrament must be consumed.  At the Maundy Thursday Eucharist, all of the sacrament is taken out of the tabernacle and is either consumed or placed in with the sacrament which is processed to the Garden.

Why is this so significant?  It is significant to me because it adds to the drama of Holy Week.  It adds to the drama of walking with Jesus through His passion to His death and finally to the resurrection.  During that period of time from the end of the Good Friday Liturgy until the receiving of Communion, we are dwelling in the darkness of death.  Jesus is dead.  For me, the fact that Jesus is not sacramentally present in the tabernacle adds to the drama of His death.

There is a candle which burns in the sanctuary.  You can see it on the right hand side.  This candle burns to remind us that Jesus is present in His sacrament and is in the tabernacle on the altar. 

Now let me stop and take you to another thought.  I will try to bring it all together before I finish -- I promise!  I pray the Rosary.  I particularly like to pray the Rosary when I take a walk on the beach.  I try to make an intention for each of the mysteries, or events, which are remembered by praying the Rosary.

One of the mysteries which is remembered is when Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the temple with the teachers in the temple.  You remember the story?  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph have come to Jerusalem for a festival.  Mary and Joseph leave with their extended family and find later that Jesus is not with them.  St. Luke writes:

“After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.   And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.’  And he said to them, ‘How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?’  And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them.”

As I meditate on this mystery of the Rosary, my intention is always that when I feel like I cannot find Jesus – when I feel alone or abandoned – that I will always remember that Jesus is in His Father’s house in the tabernacle on the altar.  He waits there for us.

Now, let me assure you that all of this stuff that sounds so very Roman Catholic is not only Anglican and Episcopal, but scriptural as well.

In the Gospel today Jesus says:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.   I am the bread of life.  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.  This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die.   I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." … “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

And St. Paul writes to the Corinthians:

“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.    Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.    Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.    For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.”

Jesus is truly present in the sacrament that we will receive today.  He is present there.  He gives His whole self to us to feed us so that we might go out into the world and tell the world about Him.

But if we feel alone.  If we feel like Jesus is far away.  When we are in the wilderness, we can always remember that Jesus is here in the tabernacle.  You can come and spend some time in quiet with Him.  He is always in our hearts, but sometimes we need something more tangible.

Jesus said “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?”   “This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” AMEN.