Fr. David’s homily May 29, 2016
Feast of Corpus Christi
A story, appearing first in the Boston Globe, and then nationally syndicated, was entitled Team Impact. Team Impact stands for: Inspire, Motivate, and Play Against ChallengesTogether. The program matches up children with chronic, debilitating illnesses with college sports teams. Team Impact was set up by a group of college buddies these men wanted to take the traditional model of mentoring children to a new level. The children become official members of the team from draft day through graduation. A youngster gets his/her own signing day, locker, uniforms and a place on the sidelines. The youngster joins the team and the student athletes join the child’s support team. Priority No. 1 is to help the children whose illnesses take them “off the grid” socially to make a real human connection. There’s another side to this: athletes are given a huge opportunity for perspective, breaking out of their privileged culture and meeting real heroes and seeing genuine courage. Most coaches are quick to accept even seriously ill children, seeing the relationship as part of the learning experience for their teams.
A child mentioned in the article is Ben. Ben proudly wears the colors of the St. Anselm College Hawks. Coaches and players on the hockey team will tell you to a man that Ben is the most important member of the squad. Ben is seven years old. He has a rare form of leukemia.
Ben’s presence at every game and practice serves as a living example for the team of what’s possible despite adversity. Ben’s brother Hawks taught him how to skate – and more. They help Ben with his homework, visit him in the hospital when he is undergoing treatments, and have gone to events at Ben’s school. A member of the team even escorted Ben at his First Communion. “They taught him how to be a friend,” his mom said of her shy son. Team Impact has made a thousand such connections with college sports teams around the country.
Hailey is a first-grader who is part of a woman’s college softball team. “What Hailey has given to us is just immeasurable,” the coach says. “She’s just so brave. She’s like a little inspiration to all of us.”
In today’s gospel, Jesus creates, through bread blessed, broken and shared, a community out of a multitude. That same spirit of generosity and humility creates the bond between the children and athletes in Team Impact, enabling children and athletes to inspire and teach one another. You and I are part of Jesus’ Eucharist-centered church. We are who we are because of the Eucharist. That means that we are both guests and waiters. Our presence at this table makes us more than a gathering of diners. It makes us a family: we come here with our struggles and doubts and pains and sorrows and, if the Eucharist is what Jesus intended it to be, we find support and compassion from those who come to the table with us. At the same time, the Eucharist should compel us to become Eucharist for others: to make the limitless, complete love of Christ real for other people in our own acts of charity and kindness.
My fellow Christians, it is not enough to receive the Body of Christ in the Eucharist, but we must be the Body of Christ. We are that when we commit ourselves to help make our families, indeed our world, more peaceful, more just, more loving. Then we become what we receive – the Body of Christ. We ourselves become, if you will, a “TEAM IMPACT” in our world.
David J. McBriar, OFM
Gospel LK 9:11B-17
Jesus spoke to the crowds about the kingdom of God. He healed those who needed to be cured. As the day was drawing to a close, the Twelve approached him and said, “Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.” He said to them, “Give them some food yourselves.” They replied, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people.” Now the men there numbered about five thousand. Then he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty.” They did so and made them all sit down.
Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets.