Sermon: Christians and their devotions

Generally speaking, man has a strong attachment to different things and people. While this attachment can be explained away by mechanism in animals, in man it is a different story. You cannot fully understand why people, with their different backgrounds, like what they like.

Generally speaking, man has a strong attachment to different things and people. While this attachment can be explained away by mechanism in animals, in man it is a different story. You cannot fully understand why people, with their different backgrounds, like what they like.

Psychologists have tried to trace this human attachment to man’s social nature and upbringing. According to these specialists, human development begins with the establishment of a close emotional relationship between a child and a mother or other regular care giver; and this intense and enduring relationship is accountable to all sorts of attachment that we may develop later in our life.

The kind of attachment mentioned above is referred to in the Christian world as devotion. Catholic devotions are not simple to explain since they are in the realm of faith. They are mainly in prayer forms which are part of the popular and approved spiritual practices of Christians.

Some devotions have diminished or increased in popularity during different periods of Church history due to various reasons. One of such devotions is the Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament  which has flourished since the pontificate of Pope John Paul II.

This in turn has influenced the way Christians all over the world do celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ; popularly known as Corpus Christi.

The feast of Corpus Christi which we celebrate on the 14th June this year, was introduced to the whole church by Pope Urban IV in 1264.

On that feast, Christians carry the Eucharist in a kind of canopy, all along the paths, streets or roads through their villages, towns and cities. 

One of the main themes of the day is the union of Christians around the sacrament of Eucharist as found in the Gospel according to Mark. (

14:12-16, 22-26)  According to the way Christ instituted the Eucharist; it became clear to all present that the bread and wine at the heart of the Eucharistic celebration, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ’s Body and Blood.

It was as well clear that he commanded the Church through his apostles to continue doing the same in his memory. He further assured his Church through the apostles that he would be with his people always, even to the end of time.

That is why, as the successive generations of Christians; we do continue to live this mystical reality of his body and blood present in the Eucharist.

It is because of what the Eucharist means for Christians therefore, that on the feast of Corpus Christi, through their processions and unanimous adoration of the Eucharist, they want to send the message to the world around them that Christ sacrificed himself for all humanity.

As they carry Christ past the houses of our villages and along the streets of our cities, they offer to him all those who live there. In their processions, Christians should not be annoyed if one or two of the people standing by raise their eye brows in mockery.

On the contrary, because the Eucharist is a mysterious reality that surpasses our understanding, we must not be surprised if some people find it hard to accept the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

It cannot be otherwise. This is how it has been since the day when, in the synagogue at Capernaum, Jesus openly declared that he had come to give us his flesh and his blood as food and drink (cf. Jn 6:26-58).

It sounded harsh to those who were listening to him then. Some of his disciples withdrew when they heard what he was telling them. In one of his homilies, Pope Benedict XI explains that the Eucharist remains a “sign of contradiction” because a God who makes himself flesh and sacrifices himself for the life of the world throws human wisdom into crisis.

The feast of Corpus Christi is an occasion of learning and of renewing our faith in God. In our processions, we make the faith of Peter and the other Apostles our own and we proclaim with them: “Lord, to whom shall we go?

You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68).  On that special occasion, the Eucharist we receive and enshrine is not simply a meal or an object of adoration. It is rather more of a memorial of a life given for others.

It is therefore an occasion for each individual Christian in the procession to remember how much he or she owes his or her savior.

And to this we pay back by allowing ourselves to be transformed by the Eucharist and by sending the right signals to others who see us in the procession. That way, our life shall be lit up by the Eucharist and we shall be part of the light of the world.

Ends

 

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