Father Koch: The Eucharist is the foreshadow of heaven

May 31, 2024 at 9:07 a.m.
Bishop O'Connell holds the monstrance being used by the Seton route pilgrims during the Diocese's three-day Eucharistic Revival observance. Father Garry Koch reflects on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus by emphasizing on the importance of receiving the Sacraments which includes the Eucharist. Mike Ehrmann photo
Bishop O'Connell holds the monstrance being used by the Seton route pilgrims during the Diocese's three-day Eucharistic Revival observance. Father Garry Koch reflects on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus by emphasizing on the importance of receiving the Sacraments which includes the Eucharist. Mike Ehrmann photo (Michael Ehrmann)


Gospel reflection for June 2, 2024, The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus

This past week our Diocese was blessed to host for three days the St. Mother Seton Route of the National Eucharistic Procession leading to the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis this coming July. Like many other pilgrims, I was able to attend one of the Masses and participate in the procession this week. While there is an element of nostalgia -- reminiscent of the Eucharistic processions of my youth in Pennsylvania -- the greater reality is the call for the future, to more ardently and fervently live, proclaim and preach the great mystery of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist.

In his homily for the pilgrimage on Wednesday evening in St. Mary of the Pines Church, Manahawkin, Bishop O’Connell reflected on the life’s work of Blessed Carlo Acutis. Two years ago, the Diocese placed all of our schools and young people under his patronage. While his name is unfamiliar to most Catholics, many parishes in our Diocese have hosted the exhibit on Eucharistic Miracles, which is inspired by the work of Blessed Carlo. He was a 15-year-old Italian spiritual savant who died in 2006. His love for the Eucharist now inspires people around the world as we contemplate the incredible insights he displayed during his brief life. He wrote: “The more often we receive the Eucharist, the more we become like Jesus and the more we get a foretaste of heaven.”

This alone should serve to give us cause to reflect as we contemplate the manner by which we attend Mass and receive the Eucharist each week.

The Incarnation -- Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity -- became a human person -- connects the mystery of the divine to the concrete reality of our humanity. Were it a singular act on the part of God that would be enough for us. The Incarnation changes our humanity and our relationship with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Yet, the Incarnation and the life of Jesus is a moment-in-time. Occurring in an obscure corner of the Roman Empire just over two-thousand years ago, Jesus himself only encountered a few tens of thousands of persons in his lifetime, probably only enough to fill an average baseball stadium today.

Jesus bestowed upon his followers, and especially those we call the apostles, certain gifts in order to continue his mission, to proclaim the Kingdom of God to the world, and to transform our humanity. Those gifts were entrusted to them and through them to the church. He instructed: “Go forth … preach, … baptize;” Whose sins you forgive, are forgiven them …” and, celebrating the Last Supper with them, “Do this in memory of me.”

These gifts, these instructions to the apostles, form the very heart of the Church, as the sacramental life is expressed through the work of the bishops, priests, and deacons, and lived in extraordinary ways by those in consecrated life.

The Sacraments each are a guidepost along the journey of this life and offer a foretaste of heaven. We enter into an experience that is otherworldly even as it is celebrated in the most mundane places in this world. A Baptism with river water is the same as one in a marble font with a gold shell; a confession heard in a mall parking lot is the same as one heard in a majestic confessional; a Mass celebrated on a military vehicle in a battlefield is the same Mass as celebrated in the most magnificent basilica.

It is the ordinariness of the Eucharist that should be the mystery, but instead for many of us it just then becomes ordinary. Blessed Carlo also wrote: “Jesus is very creative because he hides in a little piece of bread, and only God could do something so incredible!”

Indeed, that is the great mystery of who we are and what we celebrate.

Let us allow this feast to be an occasion to recommit ourselves to spending time with our Lord in the Eucharist and to strive to receive Holy Communion faithfully and reverently as often as possible.

Father Garry Koch is pastor of St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel.


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Gospel reflection for June 2, 2024, The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus

This past week our Diocese was blessed to host for three days the St. Mother Seton Route of the National Eucharistic Procession leading to the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis this coming July. Like many other pilgrims, I was able to attend one of the Masses and participate in the procession this week. While there is an element of nostalgia -- reminiscent of the Eucharistic processions of my youth in Pennsylvania -- the greater reality is the call for the future, to more ardently and fervently live, proclaim and preach the great mystery of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist.

In his homily for the pilgrimage on Wednesday evening in St. Mary of the Pines Church, Manahawkin, Bishop O’Connell reflected on the life’s work of Blessed Carlo Acutis. Two years ago, the Diocese placed all of our schools and young people under his patronage. While his name is unfamiliar to most Catholics, many parishes in our Diocese have hosted the exhibit on Eucharistic Miracles, which is inspired by the work of Blessed Carlo. He was a 15-year-old Italian spiritual savant who died in 2006. His love for the Eucharist now inspires people around the world as we contemplate the incredible insights he displayed during his brief life. He wrote: “The more often we receive the Eucharist, the more we become like Jesus and the more we get a foretaste of heaven.”

This alone should serve to give us cause to reflect as we contemplate the manner by which we attend Mass and receive the Eucharist each week.

The Incarnation -- Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity -- became a human person -- connects the mystery of the divine to the concrete reality of our humanity. Were it a singular act on the part of God that would be enough for us. The Incarnation changes our humanity and our relationship with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Yet, the Incarnation and the life of Jesus is a moment-in-time. Occurring in an obscure corner of the Roman Empire just over two-thousand years ago, Jesus himself only encountered a few tens of thousands of persons in his lifetime, probably only enough to fill an average baseball stadium today.

Jesus bestowed upon his followers, and especially those we call the apostles, certain gifts in order to continue his mission, to proclaim the Kingdom of God to the world, and to transform our humanity. Those gifts were entrusted to them and through them to the church. He instructed: “Go forth … preach, … baptize;” Whose sins you forgive, are forgiven them …” and, celebrating the Last Supper with them, “Do this in memory of me.”

These gifts, these instructions to the apostles, form the very heart of the Church, as the sacramental life is expressed through the work of the bishops, priests, and deacons, and lived in extraordinary ways by those in consecrated life.

The Sacraments each are a guidepost along the journey of this life and offer a foretaste of heaven. We enter into an experience that is otherworldly even as it is celebrated in the most mundane places in this world. A Baptism with river water is the same as one in a marble font with a gold shell; a confession heard in a mall parking lot is the same as one heard in a majestic confessional; a Mass celebrated on a military vehicle in a battlefield is the same Mass as celebrated in the most magnificent basilica.

It is the ordinariness of the Eucharist that should be the mystery, but instead for many of us it just then becomes ordinary. Blessed Carlo also wrote: “Jesus is very creative because he hides in a little piece of bread, and only God could do something so incredible!”

Indeed, that is the great mystery of who we are and what we celebrate.

Let us allow this feast to be an occasion to recommit ourselves to spending time with our Lord in the Eucharist and to strive to receive Holy Communion faithfully and reverently as often as possible.

Father Garry Koch is pastor of St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel.

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