Homily on Holy Thursday – Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Last Supper

            Have you ever heard of “coconut Christology”? Havea, in his article “Christianity in Pacific context,” wrote that “if Jesus had grown up and lived in the Pacific, He could have added another identification of himself – I am the coconut of life.” It is because coconut is the most popular in Pacific islands, and because the full Christology can be seen in it. For instance, if the Eucharist had been instituted in the Pacific context, instead of unleavened bread and wine, Jesus could have used the coconut to represent his body which was bruised and crushed, and the juice for the blood. The image of the coconut even represents the Eucharist better than that of bread and wine because the coconut has both the drink and the food from the same fruit, like the blood and flesh from one and the same body of Christ. What do you think? Do you want to receive the Eucharist in the form of coconut?

            In the mass this evening, we celebrate the institution of two sacraments: the Eucharist and the Holy Orders. I would like to invite you to especially remember bishops, priests, and deacons in your prayers. Also, I would like to share with you some essential points about the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

            In every Sacrament, there is always something functioning as a sign. For example, water is the sign of baptism. Sacred Chrism is the sign of confirmation. The “coconut Christology” is just like a joke, but it helps to see the characteristics of the sign. The sign must somehow function to signify the invisible reality underneath the sacrament. In this aspect, coconut could be a perfect sign for the Eucharist. However, another important element of all sacraments is that sacraments are instituted by Christ. The second reading tells us how Jesus instituted the Eucharist. He did not take a coconut, but he took the bread and cup. This is the reason why only bread and wine are valid matters for the Eucharist.

            Above all, the most important point that we have to believe and have to keep in mind is that by the consecration of the priest, Jesus is present whole and entire in each of the eucharistic species and in each of their parts. After consecration, the bread and wine are no longer bread and wine, but they are the body and blood of Christ. The appearance of bread and wine does not change, but their substances change. This kind of change is called transubstantiation. In no way, our senses can prove this reality, but only faith can. If you believe that “nothing is impossible for God,” then you will easily believe in the mystery of the Eucharist. When we believe in the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, we are aware of the importance of this Sacrament for our salvation. Precisely, “Holy Communion increases our union with Christ and with his Church. It preserves and renews the life of grace received at Baptism and Confirmation and makes us grow in love for our neighbor. It strengthens us in charity, wipes away venial sins and preserves us from mortal sin in the future.”

            Today, the liturgy especially reminds us of the Eucharist. We are invited to cultivate our faith in the Eucharist and increase our love for this wonderful sacrament. You may not know the theological foundation of the Eucharist, or you may not understand the significance of signs, but I urge you to inscribe in your mind the most crucial belief that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. Then, you show your love for Jesus by attending mass and receiving his body and blood.

            Brothers and sisters, come to the Eucharist for Jesus is waiting for you!

A Reflection on The Final Judgment – Matthew 25: 31-46

The Final Judgment - Thirty Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time - Matthew 25: 31-46

           If today is the final judgment, what would you do? Would you be like a baptized lawyer who did not practice faith his whole life. When he knew that he had only three days to live, he hastened to his house to find the bible. His wife was surprised and saying, “did someone reconvert you?” He kept looking at the bible and answered “no! I am trying to find some weak points in the bible so that I can defend myself in the final judgment.”

What would you do in the final judgment? The answer is you can do nothing but wait for God’s judgment. The righteous will enjoy the reward of eternal life while the others will be punished in the eternal death. Nevertheless, if you have opportunities to make your choice between Heaven and Hell, Life and Death, what would you choose? It is urgent for us to make our choices right now.

            “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (25:31-32). Here, the gospel emphasizes the separation at the final judgment. There are only two categories, namely sheep and goats. Why were the sheep preferred over the goats while their values are mostly equal? I suggest that we look at their characteristics. Sheep are often considered as meek and gentle animals. They know the shepherd and obey his directions. Thus, they stand for the righteous. In contrast, goats have many negative characteristics, so they represent for the unrighteous. For example, they stink, they butt, they are over-sexed, they are quarrelsome, they have horns like the devil, they use their horn to attach the sheep, they destroy pastures and pollute the water, and so on. What group do you think you belong to? If you are meek, gentle, and obedient, then you are among the sheep. If you do evil deeds, then you are among the goats. Remember there are only two groups, either sheep or goats. Your actions in the present express your choices to belong to either of these groups. Be wise to make your choices.

            It is true that evildoers deserve punishments. However, the gospel today tells us another attitude that causes punishments. Do you realize that those on the left were not condemned for their evil deeds? The king says to them that:

I was hungry, and you gave me no food, I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.” (25:42-43)

The main reason for their condemnation is that they did not do good deeds. Especially, they did not care for one of the least ones to whom God identifies himself. I believe most people here are keeping very well the first aspect of righteousness, shunning evil works. However, I would like to remind you of the second aspect, doing good works. There are many people being neglected around us. They need our care. You do not need to do something beyond your capacities, but you can start from little things of caring for others, such as be generous to the needy, be compassionate to the sufferings, and be merciful to those who offend you. Whenever you accomplish a good work like this, you deposit to your spiritual budget which is to buy your insurance to enter the paradise. You do not have to find any weak points in the bible like the lawyer I mentioned at the beginning. Your good works will defend you in the final judgment.

            Brothers and Sisters! We belong to the sheepfold of God who does not want anyone lost. God wants all of us to inherit the kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of the world, but the choice is ours. Our lives now are the great opportunity for making our choice. Make your choice before too late. May we make wise choice so that, on the last day, we will be placed at the right side of the king.