So many of you remember that it was only two years ago that I made my first visit to Italy (truth be told it was my fist time ever out of the country. Today, on our way up to Assisi from Rome we stopped at a beautiful town named Orvietto - famous for the Eucharistic miracle which was the impetus for the feast of Corpus Christi to be institutionalized 750 years ago. (I explain a little more of it in the homily down below)
The city is truly a beautiful town - more of what my stereotypical images of Italy would be :
(That's Lino at lunch)
Readings can be found at : http://usccb.org/bible/readings/072114.cfm
A beautiful street
"We wish to see a sign from you"
Reading this Gospel today, and knowing we were coming to Orvieto, I couldnt help but think how appropriate. One account of the Eucharistic miracle that took place here is that in 13th Century, a priest who is described as pious -- but had his doubts, his reservations how the God of the Universe could somehow be really present in a piece of bread and cup of wine. As he celebrated Mass, he hadn't even gotten to the words of consecration and inexplicably blood started to come from the host onto the priests hands and onto the corporal and altar cloths. Making this place a place of pilgrimage, which led to the Pope Urban IV to institute the feast of Corpus Christi - The Body and Blood of Christ.
I don't know - that sounds like quite a sign to me! How come this priest got one - but the scribes and pharisees are smacked down for asking for one... and how come when you and I want a sign, so often we feel our request (demand??) Are unanswered...
I think the difference is a matter of the heart.
Jesus isn't going to respond to the demands of the crowd looking for him to perform a miracle to impress them... simply because the disposition of their hearts were so closed, so twisted nothing would... "Jesus turn this water into wine?" "Oh it's red and not white... see, he's not so special." They were putting him to the test. There wasn’t openness of heart. They were simply looking for more reasons to argue, to fight, to dismiss Jesus.
I can’t help but think about how different this priest of orvieto was. He had already given his life to Christ and to His Church in laying down his life as a priest. And despite the doubts, he still approached the altar to celebrate Mass... He was praying similar to the Gospel encounter where the father is begging for Jesus to cure his son, says "I believe, help my unbelief."
For each of us here this pilgrimage, with our intentions, our cares and concerns that we're carrying - in some part of our hearts there's no doubt a desire that The Lord give us some sort of a sign of not simply his existence - I think that just looking at some of the beauty we've already witnessed points us to something bigger than ourselves - points to the existence of God. More likely, we're looking for a sign of God's personal presence, personal interest in each and everyone of us. That He hears and cares about what it is that troubles our hearts.
We’ve come to this place, not simply to visit a place of a reported miracle, but to reflect on the miracle of the Eucharist - that Jesus Christ continues to be made real, continues to come into our midst, into our hands to be consumed into our very body’s and souls.
It is said that it was this miracle of Orvieto that caused Pope Urban to commission St. Thomas Aquinas to write a special musical in honor of the Holy Eucharist.. With that in mind, it’s good to recall his famous quote: To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.
Lord, increase our Faith...