Corpus Christi Mass highlights dignity

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz celebrated Mass June 14 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in the Park DuValle neighborhood in West Louisville on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. In his homily, he highlighted human dignity and the “ugly sin of racism.” (Record Photo by Jessica Able)

Those listening to the live-stream liturgy June 14 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church heard Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz denounce the “ugly sin of racism.”

Archbishop Kurtz celebrated Mass on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ at Immaculate Heart of Mary, 1545 Louis Coleman Jr. Drive.

The parish is located in the Park DuValle neighborhood of Louisville’s West End. It has approximately 400 parishioners, who are predominantly African American. Father Chris Rhodes is the pastor.

In his homily, Archbishop Kurtz said “we’ve all been thinking and praying and looking for the right direction to go, especially as the ugly sin of racism has once again raised its head.”

He noted the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, or Corpus Christi Sunday as it is also known, is a gift given by Jesus Christ.

“Boy, do we need that gift as we walk along the journey of life,” he said.

He recalled the book “History of Black Catholics in the United States,” written by the late Benedictine Father Cyprian Davis.

Father Davis was a black Catholic Benedictine monk and church historian who lived and worked at St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology. He died in 2015.

The archbishop recalled that the first persons were brought to the United States against their will, as slaves, more than 400 years ago.

He said, “the dignity that is taken from one person deprives all of us of dignity” and  “the fabric of our community is torn apart when we don’t seek to bring about a unity that is grounded in justice and that justice must happen before there is true and lasting peace.”

“Today, we pause and say ‘Lord, give us direction.’ And, the Lord says to us ‘Receive and feed on the body and blood of my son Jesus. The one who has been given for your salvation,’ ” he said

Corpus Christi Sunday recognizes the belief by Catholics of the real presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. Archbishop Kurtz noted the Second Vatican Council’s assertion that the Eucharist is the “source and summit of Christian living.”

“If we want to find the lifespring, where we are going to be nourished, so that after each Sunday begin that week anew and enter into a journey that we hope will ultimately bring us to Christ in heaven,” he said.

If we can’t enter into that journey accompanied by Christ, by his body and blood, “we will be doomed to an age without faith,” he said.

One of the things Father Davis noted about racism, the archbishop said, is seen mostly clearly when someone, because of his or her skin color, is treated with hatred.

But Father Davis also reminds his readers, he said, there is another “ugly face of racism.” And, that is when someone is deprived of opportunity.

Archbishop Kurtz noted that the archdiocese held the 33rd annual African American Catholic Leadership Awards banquet in early March. At the dinner, awards are given to both adults and young people for their leadership in the Archdiocese of Louisville.

Archbishop Kurtz said he especially enjoys hearing the perspective of the young black Catholics that reflect on their faith journey.

“I’m always amazed when people talk about their family, their parish, their faith. And, they always bring forth what I would say is a whole atmosphere of opportunity, a future. With Christ, every one of us has a future,” he said.

Archbishop Kurtz also discussed the day’s Gospel reading from the sixth chapter of St. John, where Jesus, understanding how difficult the journey of life would be, proclaimed “I am the bread of Life.”

“Today, we pause to say ‘Lord, I don’t want to turn back and live a life without you. I want the gift of the body and blood of Christ. And, I understand that the gift of my faith allows me to see the holy Eucharist,’ ” he said.

St. Paul, in the day’s second reading, called believers to approach the holy Eucharist as participants, not simply as spectators.

The archbishop reminded those listening that Christ felt the burden of every sin committed as he died on the cross, “even the sins you and I commit.”

“At this holy Eucharist, our hearts, our whole being will actually be touched by that one sacrifice, the body and blood of Christ given for our salvation.

“So we participate very personally because Christ knows us more deeply than we know ourselves,” he said.

The second way to participate in the Eucharist, the archbishop said, is in our ability to suffer for Christ.

“If we suffer for Christ, you and I participate, we are purified. We don’t suffer in vain. We need, strengthened by the bread of life, to be able to go forward seeking a brighter future,” he said

Perhaps a future that will only come perfectly in heaven, he said, “but a future that we act on right now.”

“A future in which we seek to do our part to promote a justice that sees the dignity of every person and a community that is united not on a false basis but united on Christ’s terms.

“It’s a unity that will allow us not only to become more ourselves but to become closer to one another in a lasting, just and peaceful way,” he said

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