03 June, 2018. Corpus Christi (The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ)
1st Reading: Exodus (24:3-8)
Moses and the people accept their covenant with God on Mount Sinai
Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and set up twelve pillars, corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel. He sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed oxen as offerings of well-being to the Lord. Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he dashed against the altar. Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, “See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
Resp. Psalm (Ps 116)
R./: I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord
How shall I make a return to the Lord
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the Lord. (R./)
Precious in the eyes of the Lord
is the death of his faithful ones.
I am your servant, the son of your handmaid;
you have loosed my bonds. (R./)
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the Lord.
My vows to the Lord I will pay
in the presence of all his people. (R./)
2nd Reading: Epistle to the Hebrews 9:11-15)
Through Christ our high priest, God has made an eternal covenant with his people
But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.
Now if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God! For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.
Gospel: Mark (14:12-16, 22-26)
The Passover meal Jesus ate with his disciples the night before he died
On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Table of fellowship
Sitting together for a meal can create a kindly sense of unity. Most people enjoy sitting at table in good company. These are occasions of celebration and laughter, of friendly companionship shared. Other mealtime memories may be sad, due to sharp awareness of an absentee who was sorely missed. Jesus sat at table many times with his disciples. Often, while eating with them, he also shared his vision of God’s kingdom. The Gospels suggest that it was at the table that they took in many of his key ideas. Of all the meals he shared with them, the one that stayed most alive in their memory was on the evening before he died, what we call the last supper.
This particular meal stood out in their memory, capturing the imagination of generations of disciples right up to ourselves. He did more than share his vision with them on that occasion, he gave them himself in a way he had never done before, anticipating the death he would die the following day. In using the bread and wine as symbols of himself, he declared himself to be their food and drink. By inviting them to eat and drink “in memory of me” he asked them to take their stand with him, to give themselves to him as he was giving himself to them.
It was because of what Jesus said during that supper that we are here in this church today. He intended that meal to be a beginning rather than an end… the first Christian Eucharist. Ever since, the church gathers regularly in his name, to do and say what he did and said at that last supper, taking bread and wine, blessing both, breaking the bread and giving both for disciples to eat and drink.
Jesus continues to give himself as food and drink to us. He also continues to invite his followers to take our stand with him, to hold to all he stands for, live by his values and walk in his footsteps. Whenever we receive the holy Eucharist, we say our Amen to the Lord. We are acknowledging Him as our bread of life. We pledge ourselves to follow in his way and be faithful to him as he is ever faithful to us. In that sense, celebrating Eucharist is not something to do lightly. Our familiarity with the Mass can makes us unaware of the full significance of what we are doing. Every time we gather for the Eucharist, it’s like being in that upper room with the first disciples, and the Lord is present again to support and to challenge us.
Eucharist and Hospitality
Hospitality is deeply embedded in human nature and to say someone is hospitable is a welcome compliment. It is no accident that Jesus made use of table fellowship to give people a concrete experience of the indiscriminate love and universal compassion of God. When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we experience again that proclamation of the Kingdom. We join our prayer with the prayer of Jesus and the great events of salvation are made present in our time and place. Welcomed as we have been, it is our calling then to show the same love and compassion in our daily lives.
God of welcome and compassion: we thank you the Holy Eucharist, in which we know again your love and compassion. Help us to become what we have received.
(Kieran O’Mahony). For his exegetical notes on today’s readings click here.
Early description of the Eucharist
(From the Didaché “Teaching of the Twelve Apostles”):
“Concerning the Eucharist, give thanks as follows. First, concerning the cup: We give you thanks, our Father, for the holy vine of David your servant, which you have made known to us through Jesus, your servant; to you be the glory forever. And concerning the broken bread: We give you thanks, our Father, for the life and knowledge that you have made known to us through Jesus, your servant; to you be the glory forever. Just as this broken bread was scattered upon the mountains and then was gathered together and became one, so may your church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom; for yours is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ forever.” (Didaché 9:1–4)
His Presence Among Us
Jesus is living food for us, sent to us from above. Unlike ordinary food, which sustains bodily life, this food gives a life that is eternal. From the burning bush to the gentle breeze, God has made his presence known among us since the beginning of time. Christ’s eucharistic presence is in bread and wine, among the commonest elements of food and drink in his day. The Lord is present among us through everyday things.
Bread comes from a process that begins with seeds of wheat mixed with water. These are brought together as dough and, after several stages of development, they end up as a unity which we call bread. Wine begins as a cluster of grapes which, when they are processed, they end up as what we call wine. A group of people gather together for prayer, each of them unique. After a process which is the work of God’s Spirit, they become a unity, which we call church, or the Body of Christ. In communion, the (community) Body of Christ is being nourished by the (sacramental) Body of Christ.
If someone invited us to gather around, as close as we can, because he was going to whisper something to us, something else would take place too. You’d notice that the closer you come to the speaker the closer you’d be to each other. If you gathered closely around one person, you would be touching shoulders with each other. That is how community or the Body of Christ is formed. It is a question of bringing people closer to the Lord and, as a direct result of that, they end up being closer to each other.
Throughout history, God has spoken to his people in surprising ways. He spoke to Elijah through the gentle breeze, and he spoke to Moses in the burning bush. The natives of Bethlehem weren’t too excited that a new baby had been born and, later on, Herod would mock Jesus as a fool, and the soldiers would jeer him as a king. After the resurrection, Mary Magdalene thought he was a gardener, Peter thought he was a ghost, and the disciples on the road to Emmaus thought he was a stranger passing through. That he should present himself in so simple a form as food and drink is just what we might expect from “The God of Surprises.”
(José Antonio Pagola)
Pope Francis keeps repeating that fears, doubts, lack of boldness… all can radically keep us from pushing the renewal our Church needs today. In The Joy of the Gospel he even says that if we stay paralyzed by fear, we can once more end up simply being «spectators of a sterile stagnancy in our Church». His words are worth thinking about. What do we see happening among us? Are we being mobilized to revive the faith of our Christian communities, or do we keep marking time within that “sterile stagnancy” that Francis talks about? Where can we find energy to act?
One of Vatican II’s great achievements was to push us forward in regards to the Mass: till then understood as an individual obligation to fulfill a sacred law, towards the Eucharist lived out as a joyful celebration of the whole community that nourishes our faith, helps us grow in solidarity, and awakens our hope in the Risen Jesus Christ. Throughout these years, we have indeed moved forward in important ways. We are far from those frequently muttered Masses celebrated in Latin, in which the priests “read” the Mass and the Christian people came just to «hear» Mass or «assist» at the celebrations. But aren’t we still celebrating the Eucharist in a routine and boring manner?
It’s undeniable that people are abandoning the Sunday practice at an alarming rate, in part because they don’t find in our celebrations the atmosphere, the clear word, the expressive ritual, the stimulating welcome that they need to nourish their weak and failing faith. All of us, pastors and laity alike, need to ask ourselves what are we doing so that the Eucharist would be «the center and the culmination of the Christian community’s whole life»? How can our bishops stay so silent and unmoved? Why don’t we believers more forcefully show our concern and our sadness?
The problem is serious but may be soluble. Do we have to stay «stagnant» in our way of celebrating the Eucharist, so unattractive to men and women today? Is this centuries-old liturgy the best one that can help us to bring to reality that memorable supper of Jesus where we so admirably concentrate the nucleus of our faith?
Machtnamh: Bord páirtíochta (Table of sharing)
Is féidir le comhluadar boird le linn béile aontacht a chothú eadrainn. Tá cuimhní áthasach ag an chuid is mó dínn bheith ag shuí chun boird i gcuideachta cairde..Ocáidí ceiliúrtha, sgléip is sport iad seo, an chomhaltas a fuarthas agus san á roinnt le chéile. D’fhéadfadh sé go mbeadh cuimhní brónacha in a measc. Nuair a bhímid ag machtnamh ar duine atá in easamh, a cailleadh, seachas orthu siúd a bhí i láthair. Shuigh Íosa go leor amanta ag an mbord len a dheisceabail. Go minic, nuair a roinn sé bia leo, chomhroinn sé a fhís pearsanta faoi ríocht Dé. Ag an tábla, chuala agus thuig siad cuid mhór dá chuid smaointe bunúsacha. Ach i measc na mbéiltí uile a roinn Íosa leo, is suntasaí go mór an cheann a d’fhan beo ina gcuimhne ná an chóisir a chaith sé leo an tráthnóna sula bhfuair sé bás, an béile ar a dtugtar “an Suipéar deireanach”.