Saturday, April 14, 2018

From Fear to Faith that Christ is Really There

Here's the homily I preached this morning in the fourteenth century Chapel of the Holy Corporal in the Orvieto Cathedral this morning. 

The Priest visiting the Church of Saint Catherine in nearby Bolsena was afraid. He was afraid that he no longer believed. Maybe he was coming out of a really bad mid-life crisis, or maybe he was just the skeptical sort. But he doubted, nonetheless that God cared about him anymore or maybe even ever died for him, and he certainly doubted that Christ was present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the host he was holding in his hand.

He doubted because he was afraid, until the Host began to bleed on the corporal which is enshrined up there, above my head, and covered with drops of Blood. He doubted because he was afraid.

And what are you afraid of? That you will get sick and linger with a painful and uncertain disease? That your grandchildren will make the wrong decisions and end up in all kinds of trouble? That everyone you love will die and leave you all alone? That the market will crash and you will live retirement living from hand to mouth? That the temptations will win out over the graces and you will go to hell? We are so often afraid.

We suffer anguish over the things that wake us up at two in the morning. We are distressed by the things that assault us throughout the day. We are persecuted by those who resent or just don’t trust us. We hunger for love and fulfillment and hope. We are naked, when we come into this world and when we leave, and desperately try to clothe ourselves with artifice in between. We bleed from the slings and arrows and don’t always see them coming.

And we fear.

But God smiles at us in our foolishness, like a knowing parent looking down at a three year old, and with love he says to us, disciples, “Be not afraid!”

You will not drown. You will never be alone. And I have died that you might live. All evil, darkness and death have been conquered, and those who are my children, who eat my body and drink my blood, will live forever in perfect joy with me in heaven.

Believe him. Trust him as a baby trusts the mother who hold him in her arms. And rest in the Lord, who brings you peace.

We were also blessed to be joined by scores of children who had just received their First Holy Communion.  After the homily in English I was delighted to greet them and thank them for having reminding us of our First Communion, when he Jesus came to live in our hearts that we might never be afraid again!