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Monday, April 16, 2012

Homily for 4-15-2012

The Body of Christ is the source of our Hope.
Today's Gospel reminds us that sometimes when we have to do something new, it can be scary. We can fear the future, or we struggle against the difficulty of starting over because we know how hard it is. The disciples are feeling this way on Easter Sunday and today, a week after Easter, a week after the first time they had seen Jesus risen from the dead. They are still there, locked up in the upper room, and the Lord breaks into their lives to support them, to help them come out of their shells so they can do something new, something scary, something magnificent.
CCC 730 At last the hour arrives: he commends his spirit into the Father's hands at the very moment when by his death he conquers death, so that, “raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,” He might immediately give the Holy Spirit by “breathing” on his disciples. From this hour onward, the mission of Christ and the Spirit becomes the mission of the Church: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.”
This mission is evangelization, allowing the Lord to send out His Spirit and renew the face of the earth. In a sense, it is to begin a new creation, which we see alluded to today in our reading: the “first day of the week” is the first day of creation, where God breathes his Spirit over the waters and starts his work (we also know that later God breathes life into the clay to form Adam, just as Christ breathes on the twelve). In order to achieve this new work, they needed a new hope, given within the gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift above all gifts that God gives us. And that Holy Spirit, the new hope the disciples needed, came from the Lord's Paschal Mystery, his Cross and Resurrection.
If you noticed, the disciples spend a lot of time focused on the Lord's body. This is precisely because the Body of Christ gives testimony to his Paschal Mystery. Besides stressing that it really is Jesus, We see in the wounds of Christ that the Lord has been both crucified and risen. Those wounds that were once only testimony to the horror of our sin, are now glorified and transfigured into being as well a sign of God's love that never abandons and never fails. The cross of our Lord did more for us than just forgive our sins: in the Cross we are given those things that we need to carry out our mission in this world: the water and blood that flow from Jesus' side are the source of the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist which make us members of the Body of Christ. On the Cross, also, is where Jesus breathed His last and “handed over the Spirit,” preparing for Pentecost when the Spirit will come with all its power upon the Apostles. The Cross is also where the Church is born, as Eve was taken from Adam's side, so are we born from the crucified Lord.
The Body of Christ is the source of our Hope. Those wounds, transfigured by the power of the Resurrection, are now the instrument of strength and courage for the Apostles to go and preach the message of the Gospel, to allow the Holy Spirit to renew the face of the earth.
The Church is also the Body of Christ, so the Church is our hope. Here we encounter our Risen Lord. Here we see wounds transfigured into something glorious. Here we are strengthened to allow God do something new with us. The new life that the Spirit brings is lived here in the Church, as described in the first reading: everything was shared in common; no one was in need. Without Christ, the Church wouldn't be able to carry out this mission.
Finally, the Church, who is the Body of Christ, is fed by our Lord, by his own Body and Blood. So as we say that the Body of Christ is our hope, we can truly say the Eucharist is our hope. Here we encounter the Risen Lord, hidden, mysteriously, under the species of bread and wine. Here we see the wounds our sins have caused to the Body of Christ transfigured, healed, glorified, and we have the hope to dare to try to do something new with ourselves, our families, our church and our world. May the Holy Spirit that the Lord gives us strengthen us to carry out our mission, and may the Body of Christ, crucified and risen, wounded and glorified, be the source of our hope as we receive His Body in the Eucharist and become His Body in the Church.

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