To listen to today’s homily, please select the audio below:
I missed my train last week because I wasn’t paying attention to signs in the subway announcing delays due to track repairs. Keep your eye on signs.
Today’s Feast of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ calls our attention to the signs of bread and wine; They’re sacred signs Jesus gave us; we can take them for granted. They point to a great mystery.
Our first reading today from the Book of Exodus points to the altar where Moses called the people to remember through signs the life they received from God. It’s a covenant moment, Moses says. God graciously gives himself to us and we are called to give ourselves to God. That’s what we do here at our altar as we bring the signs of bread and wine.
The prayers we say help us to understand these sacred signs. In our prayer over the bread at Mass we say: “Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we received the bread we offer you, fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.”
The bread we offer, the wine we offer are signs of creation and the human efforts that are part of creation. They’re signs of everything that the “God of all creation” gives us, of everything that comes from our hands. “The word bread stands for everything,” Augustine said in one of his commentaries on the Lord’s Prayer. (Epistle to Proba)
The bread and wine stand for everything. Let’s think of what that means. Scientists say that our universe came into existence about 15 billion years ago. The bread and wine stand for the 15 billion years our universe has been in existence. About 3.5 billion years ago life began on our planet. The bread and wine represent that 3.5 billion years of life on our planet. When they’re brought to the altar the whole universe is brought here.
About 200,000 years ago human life emerged on our planet. 200,000 years of human life are represented in the bread and wine. Our lives are part of the human story represented in the bread and wine .
We believe that when Jesus sat down with his disciples at the Last Supper and took bread and wine into his hands he took all creation, all life, all human life, he took us into his hands.
“This is my body.” “This is my blood,” he said. He is God in human flesh giving himself to us and to everything that God made. In a love poured out, he renews the covenant God makes with us and with creation.
Of course, we can miss the signs.