by Msgr. Joseph Calise
Before HBO and Direct TV, we had seven channels (if you counted Channel 13 as a real channel) and no remote. When I was a kid, TV was not about sex and violence but about education and family entertainment.
One popular figure was Art Linkletter, host of both House Party (which was also the title of his radio show) and People Are Funny. One of his most entertaining segments was called “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” which not only drew much attention to his show but also became the topic of a series of books. It was simply based on the truth that kids will say some very funny things if given the right opportunity.
I remember one interview in particular when he asked a panel of young children what their mothers told them NOT to say on television. The answers ranged from, “She told me not to talk about when she died her hair purple by mistake” to “I’m not supposed to tell about the time she answered the door with no clothes because she thought it was daddy, but it was really the mailman.” Kids generally have a unique method of communication – they are absolutely honest.
Early in my priesthood, I had my first opportunity to speak with a group of children preparing for First Communion. I counted on their absolute honesty that day. Weighing about 240 pounds at the time, I asked them if they knew anyone who was fat. Of course, the rather matter of fact answer was, “you.” This gave me the opportunity to ask them if they knew how I got to be so overweight. “Eating” was the obvious answer, which enabled me not only to applaud their intelligence but also to agree that what we eat does indeed become part of us.
Their response also facilitated a conversation on good foods and bad foods. They had seen enough Sesame Street episodes to understand that good foods give us energy and make us strong while bad foods slow us down and make us gain weight rather than muscle.
The lesson was obviously to invite the youngsters to think about the Eucharist in almost the same way. First, they accepted that Jesus could change bread and wine into His Body and Blood. In their childlike simplicity, which Jesus often held up as a model for all of us, they trusted that He Who could make the blind see and the lame walk, He Who could multiply loaves and raise the dead, could also take bread and wine and make them sacred.
More important to the conversation about their receiving Communion for the first time, however, was what happens next. Once we receive Communion, the Body and Blood of Christ become part of who we are. If eating good food makes us strong and eating bad food makes us weak, what happens when eat the food which is Christ? The elements, of course, enter into our bodies but so does the love and grace of the sacrament.
They nourish the spirit and enable us to live in better imitation of Christ. Spiritual food nourishes the soul, making it strong and giving it energy for the Christian life.
Today’s celebration of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, offers us the opportunity to hear a message of great joy. In this life’s journey towards the kingdom, Christ is visibly our companion. In the Eucharist, He gives us the spiritual nourishment that we need to complete whatever tasks He places before us and to grow closer to Him day by day.[hr] Readings for Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi):
Exodus 24, 3-8
Psalm 116, 12-13, 15-`16, 17-18
Hebrews 9, 11-15
Mark 14, 12-16, 22-26[hr] Msgr. Calise is the pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish, Williamsburg.