By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — It’s what Christ wanted. It’s why he became human, suffered, died and rose again, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann said.
Jesus wants us to be his tabernacles to bring his body and blood not only inside us, but also to the rest of the world.
“Mary became the first tabernacle, carrying the body of Jesus in her womb,” the Kansas City, Kan., archbishop told nearly 300 gathered for Mass and a procession through the streets of his see city on the June 7 Feast of Corpus Christi.
“Today, when we receive the Eucharist, we become living tabernacles, carrying the very life of Jesus within us,” he said.
“Like Mary, we are given the responsibility of bringing Jesus to others,” he said. “May we say ‘Amen’ when we receive the Eucharist with the same joy and faith of Mary when she said, ‘Let it be done according to your will.’”
An annual procession through city streets on the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, dates back centuries in church history, but was revived soon after St. John Paul II became pope and organized a public procession in Rome, Archbishop Naumann told the congregation.
Bishop Robert W. Finn led the first Corpus Christi procession in Kansas City in 2005, and the next year, through the streets of St. Joseph.
The following year, the procession became a joint celebration between the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph on the Missouri side, and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, with each diocese alternating as hosts every year across the state line.
This year’s Mass and procession began at the monastery of the Little Sisters of the Lamb in the heart of Kansas City, Kan. It was held outdoors under a blazing late spring sun following a week of rain and flash flooding in the Kansas City area.
“We were worried about rain. But now, with the prayers of the Little Sisters, we have to worry about sun stroke,” Archbishop Naumann quipped to the crowd.
In his homily, Archbishop Naumann told how he sees signs that deep faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is alive, especially among the young.
He spoke of a Catholic teacher in her 20s who sent him a note on Holy Thursday, of her gratitude that Christ “satisfies our deepest hunger and thirst with no less that the gift of himself.”
He spoke of middle schoolers at a Catholic retreat, and how “awesome” silent adoration before the Blessed Sacrament was.
“It was a very powerful experience to them to pray so close to the real presence of Jesus,” he said.
And he spoke of a procession behind the Blessed Sacrament at Kansas University as the college year was winding down, attended by scores of Catholic students.
“It was so beautiful to see the love of these young adults for the presence of the Lord,” Archbishop Naumann said. “It does the heart of a bishop very good.”
St. John Paul II was not the only saint drawn to, in love with, and centering his life around the Eucharist, Archbishop Naumann said. All the great saints did, as he read a long litany.
And they also recognized the responsibility that came with the greatest gift — that we must now be the living church, the instruments to bring Christ to the world.
“As we come forward to receive the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, let us pray that we can have a portion of what the great saints passed to us,” Archbishop Naumann said.
“Jesus wants to come to us to nourish the hunger in our hearts and to give us courage to be his witnesses in the world today,” he said, recalling
Mary’s words to the servants at the wedding feast at Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle, to do whatever her son said without question.
“If he was able to turn water into wine, he is able to turn bread and wine into his body and blood,” Archbishop Naumann said.
“Mary was asked to believe that she conceived with the Holy Spirit the Son of God,” he said.
“We are asked to believe that the same Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Mary, becomes present to us in his full divinity and humanity in the bread and wine,” he said.
“May we believe, like Mary, that nothing is impossible with God,” Archbishop Naumann said.