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Corpus Christi Sunday 2020, closing the distance: Sunday homily by Father Richard Jasper, St. Ann, Wilmington

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Father Rich Jasper delivers his homily during Mass at St. Elizabeth of Hungary in Denton, Md., at the diocesan Pass the Word on Feb. 24. (Dialog photo/Mike Lang)

By FATHER RICHARD JASPER

I was an “angst-y” teen.

My family prefers to use the word “miserable,” but let’s not argue over semantics here.

And like all miserable – I mean “angst-y” 13-year-olds – I found a song during that time which expressed exactly how I was feeling.

Father Richard Jasper
Father Richard Jasper

It was playing on an easy-listening station that I didn’t particularly care to listen to at the time, but the voice and lyric caught my attention immediately: it was Karen Carpenter’s “Rainy Days and Mondays.”

Now the song itself is as angst-y as I was, so DO NOT listen to it if you’re in a good mood.  I repeat: DO NOT listen to it if you’re happy.

BUT, if the blues and woes of life are piling up, get a load of these soul-gripping lyrics –

“Sometimes I’d like to quit; nothing ever seems to fit” …

And –

“Nothin’ is really wrong; feelin’ like I don’t belong …”

See?

Now, I know you are asking yourself by this point: “Father, what in God’s Name does “Rainy Days and Mondays” have to do with these Scripture readings … or, for that matter, the Feast of Corpus Christi?

And my response?  Everything.

Here’s why:

In all three of our readings, everyone is miserable.  EVERYONE.

The prophet Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy (our first reading) pretty much tells the Israelites: stop moping around and complaining. Don’t forget the God who has ALWAYS provided for you in the darkest of days: there has been manna when you were hungry, water to slake your thirst, and a guiding spirit throughout your years of wandering in the desert of temptation and your own sinfulness.

Then Paul tells the Christian community at Corinth (our second reading): “Hey, don’t be like your ancestors who lusted after ungodly things on their journey. Instead, find your strength — together in community — sharing the One Bread and One Cup.”

Which is exactly what Jesus is saying to a mostly-unbelieving crowd in John’s Gospel:

“I AM that living bread … that manna you crave.  My Blood IS that very gift which gives you the everlasting life and salvation you seek.”

And because they are hearing something that seems both impossible and blasphemous, most turn away from following Him. How can God feed us with His very self? Maybe better: WHY would God do this?

One answer: Remember last week’s Gospel (and the beginning of John’s Gospel)? GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE SENT HIS ONLY SON.

It is THAT SAME RESURRECTED SON who is made present each and every time we gather at this altar and in this community to take the very things Jesus Himself used at the Last Supper – bread and wine, the most basic elements of the Passover – and make them His Very Presence.

Why?

Because He’s God. Because He loves us. And because He knows that nothing else will fill the void like Christ Himself. Nothing.

I think we all know that there’s a hunger today which is reaching epic proportions.

We are hungry for healing. Hope. Justice. Mercy. Authentic relationships. Truth.

We want to be loved for who we are and not remain mired in our miserableness.

And so we look everywhere but God sometimes, don’t we?

And He’s reminding us – just as he did in John’s Gospel – that He is the only One that will really truly give us all that we seek.

Yes, it will take time to grow in our faith … doubts will enter in … and the Cross will be part of the journey.

And because God knows all this, He stays with us until the end of time, as he promised:  RIGHT HERE IN THIS VERY SACRAMENT OF THE MOST HOLY EUCHARIST.

Sadly, it’s now believed that less than one-third of all Catholics actually believe that what happens here at every Mass makes Christ truly present to us and for us. I suspect that number is lower.

I also imagine that most of us here present do believe that the Eucharist we receive is the Body and Blood of Christ, even if our sense fail sometimes to grasp that.

The question is: how do we invite others to know that love we’ve found in Him … even if we sometimes wrestle and question it?

And the only answer I come back to, time and again: KEEP SHOWING UP BECAUSE HE’S HERE.

Even in the doubts and the busyness of life … even when prayer seems dry and God seems distant … most especially when the temptations come on strong and sin is weighing you down:

KEEP SHOWING UP BECAUSE HE’S HERE.

I say it from experience … because I found it to be true, and I would give my very life for this belief.

Remember angsty-miserable teen-age me? The one who lived the ‘Rainy Days and Mondays’ lyrics: “Walkin’ around, some kind of lonely clown?”

Well, there was one other verse to that hit that spoke to my heart – still does, thirty years later: “Funny but it seems that it’s the only thing to do – Run and find the One who loves me.”

I stand here today before you as one who says to you this: I have found everything I have sought and for which my heart has longed right here in the Eucharist: the Body and Blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

You want love and peace and justice? Run to Him and you fill find those things in Him alone.

You want healing and hope? Run to Him.

You want someone to listen to you in your disappointments and miserableness? Keep running to Him.

Every time you come here – to receive Him at Mass and to pray before His Presence – He closes the distance between heartache and fulfillment, between brokenness and holiness.

Peter said it best immediately after this segment of John’s Gospel which has just been proclaimed. As soon as nearly everyone abandons the Lord, he turns to his closest disciples and asks: “Do you want to leave Me, too?”

And Peter’s response: “Lord, to whom do we go?”

To whom else do we go indeed?

Take it from once-miserable me and an old ‘70’s easy listening song from Karen Carpenter: “Run and find the One who loves you.”

Everything for which our hearts long and for which our lives cry out can be found right here in this Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.