2 June 2024 – Corpus Christi

2 June 2024 – Corpus Christi, Year B

1st Reading: Exodus 24:3-8

Ratification by Moses and the people of 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.”

2nd Reading: 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.

Responsorial: Psalm 115:12-13, 15-18

R./: I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord

How can I repay the Lord
for his goodness to me?
The cup of salvation I will raise;
I will call on the Lord’s name. (R./)

O precious in the eyes of the Lord
is the death of his faithful.
Your servant, Lord, your servant am I;
you have loosened my bonds. (R./)

A thanksgiving sacrifice I make:
I will call on the Lord’s name.
My vows to the Lord I will fulfil
before all his people. (R./)

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.


The table of fellowship

Sitting together for a meal can generate a special feeling of togetherness. Each of us will have our own memories of table companionship or fellowship. Many of these will be happy experiences of celebration and laughter, of love received and shared. Some memories of table fellowship may be sad, times when we were more aware of one who was absent than of those who were present. Jesus shared table many times with his disciples. It is likely that, when sharing food with his disciples, he also shared with them his vision of God’s kingdom . At table, the disciples imbibed something of Jesus’ mind and heart and spirit. Of all the meals he shared with them, the meal that stayed in their memory more than any other was their last meal together, what came to be known as the last supper. Today’s gospel gives us Mark’s account, his word-picture, of that last supper.

This last meal Jesus shared with his disciples stood out in their memory, capturing the imagination of generations of disciples right up to ourselves. He did more than share his vision with the disciples; he gave them himself in a way he had never done before, and in a way that anticipated the death he would die for them and for all, on the following day. In giving himself in the form of the bread and wine of the meal, he was declaring himself to be their food and drink. In calling on them to take and eat, to take and drink, he was asking them to take their stand with him, to give themselves to him as he was giving himself to them.

It was because of that supper and of what went on there that we are here in this church today. Jesus intended his last supper to be a beginning rather than an end. It was the first Eucharist. Ever since that meal, the church has gathered 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 his followers. He also continues to put it up to his followers to take their stand with him, to take in all he stands for, living by his values, walking in his way, even if that means the cross. Whenever we come to Mass and receive the Eucharist, we are making a number of important statements. We are acknowledging Jesus as our bread of life, as the one who alone can satisfy our deepest hungers. We are also declaring that we will throw in our lot with him, as it were, that we will follow in his way and be faithful to him all our lives, in response to his faithfulness to us. In that sense, celebrating the Eucharist is not something we do lightly. Our familiarity with the Mass and the frequency with which we celebrate it can dull our senses to the full significance of what we are doing. Every time we gather for the Eucharist, we find ourselves once more in that upper room with the first disciples, and the last supper with all it signified is present again to us.


  1. Thara Benedicta says:

    Key Message:
    Are our sins more powerful than the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ?

    Testimony: My daughter was preparing for her First Holy Communion. She had just completed her First Confession and was about to receive her First Holy Communion the next day. On the way home after her First Confession she said, “Mummy, my catechism teacher told me that I am sinless now and I have to be sinless till I receive Jesus tomorrow. My first chance of sinning is when Grandma scolds me. Automatically I may also yell at her in reply. So to avoid that, after reaching home, I will stay in the car. Can you please go home and tell Grandma not to scold me till tomorrow. After that I will come home. Only then I can be sinless when I receive my Jesus.”
    This little child teaches us how diligently we need to prepare for our communion!!

    Testimony: “My heart was very much moved when I realised that our Lord Jesus is pouring out His Blood from His hands for forgiveness of my sins. He entered the Holy of Holies carrying the Blood that He shed from the cross in His own hands and is pouring it out to wash away my sins. Whenever I sin, He is waiting to cleanse me with His Holy Blood. This realisation moves my heart deeply.”

    Hebrews 9:22 says that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. In the Old Testament, every year the High Priest used to go to the Holy of Holies with the blood of goats and bulls and sprinkle them for the atonement of his sins and the sins of the people. But this was not providing the complete forgiveness of sins. When John the Baptist saw our Lord Jesus Christ, He testified, “This is the Lamb of God”. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Lamb of our Almighty Father who was chosen to completely redeem us from our sins.

    Testimony: A child asked his Grandpa, “When Jesus died I was not born, so can He forgive my sin?” The Grandpa replied, “Jesus is always the ‘now’ God. The whole story of Jesus is ‘present’ for a person during His lifetime. Till I am alive, His Blood will be poured out for me. All your life, our Lord Jesus will cover you with His blood”.
    Yes, the redeeming power of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus is the same across all the ages. His Blood sanctifies us day after day, year after year.

    Our Lord Jesus bought us with His own Body and Blood. He wants us to live an excited life happy for what He has done for us. But sometimes we do not forgive ourselves and feel that our sins are too much to be forgiven. Are our sins too much for our Lord Jesus to forgive? There is no sin too big for our Lord Jesus to forgive. Apart from blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. But since we are believing in the Holy Spirit, we cannot fall into that particular sin. So let us not be with troubled minds regarding our past sins.

    In the New Testament, Zacchaeus was repenting for his sins. He longed at least to see our Lord Jesus. But when our Lord Jesus went to his home, he was overjoyed. He did not keep repenting or regretting about his past sinful life anymore. For all our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us on the cross, hanging between three nails, with His Body tearing, Blood oozing out, we are to be very sure that our Lord Jesus has forgiven all our sins. There is nothing more required apart from His Body and Blood for us to be free from our guilt.
    If Saint Paul had spent his time regretting his past sins after his conversion, he could not have worked out the miracles in his new life.

    So let us not carry our baggage of guilt feeling once our baggage of sins is thrown out by our Lord Jesus. Then we will be able to walk the energetic and powerful life which our Almighty God has planned for us!!

    1. Amen!

      Romans 7:24
      Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

      1 John 1:9
      If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

      1 John 1:7
      but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

      Romans Ch.6
      1 What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

      Romans 6:11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

  2. Paddy Ferry says:

    Today’s reading highlights one of the major problems with Hebrews. It’s anonymous writer claims that the change from animal sacrifice to human sacrifice is, in the case of Jesus, an improvement, a “higher sacrifice” of which the Aaronic sacrifices were inferior “types”.

    Such a claim goes against what most cultural historians have held—–that the change from human sacrifice to animal sacrifice was a mark of greater enlightenment, of more settled civilisation.

    However, in fairness to the writer of Hebrews he did not imagine that he was writing for the ages — according to Raymond Brown and, I think, John Meier too — but rather only to those new Christians in Rome who were “backsliding”.

  3. Joe O'Leary says:

    Paddy, it’s not just Hebrews but the whole New Testament, and it’s at the heart of Christian spirituality: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxA0TFe3-Uo

    You would not speak of Maximilian Kolbe or Sophie Scholl as “human sacrifice”.

  4. Sean O'Conaill says:

    #3 Surely you can see, Paddy, that Hebrews is claiming superiority for Jesus’ sacrifice because unlike e.g. Abraham’s putative sacrifice of Isaac, Jesus was also the acting priest – by himself SUBMITTING to crucifixion?

    How could the Eucharist have become a sufficient central ritual for Christianity, obviating the need for Jewish Temple worship, if the religious sufficiency of Jesus’ self-sacrifice had not been argued by someone – and how could that argument have been made if Jesus had not been seen as occupying the role formerly monopolised by the Jewish Temple priesthood?

    What was Jesus doing on Holy Thursday/Good Friday if not substituting himself for the Passover victim?

    All of this revulsion for the notion of priesthood arises out of the violence of Christendom and its theologically fundamentalist residue – and still today our clergy tend to be inarticulate on the distinct nature of Christian sacrifice – i.e. upon its NON-violence – based upon the REFUSAL of Jesus to resort to the option of violence.

    Due largely to St Anselm of Canterbury we are left, inexplicably, with the possibility that God the Father approved what Pilate and Herod and Caiaphas were doing – even though that was the POLAR OPPOSITE of what Jesus was doing.

    And yet the great exemplars of Christian non-violent sacrifice in recent history (e.g. Sophie Scholl, Franz Jägerstätter, Maximilian Kolbe) were bearing witness to the exemplary power of what Jesus had done. So were Michael McGoldrick and Gordon Wilson – and so are all those who are still bearing the pain of the loss of loved ones in the Troubles, without any prospect now of ‘closure’.

    This common priestly challenge and obligation – which comes with Baptism – is never sufficiently seen and highlighted by our sacerdotal priesthood – and this is the source of the resentment that Garry Wills is obviously gripped by in ‘Why Priests?’ Christendom made the sacerdotal priesthood an overclass in the church – the reason for the continuing blindness on the greater importance of the actual sacrifices that the merely baptised do so often make – and the ridiculous myth that only the ordained are called to take risks for Christ.

    There can be no honourable future for humankind without ACTUAL self-sacrifice. Only when those who officiate at the ritual sacrifice, the Mass, can point to what it calls us all to do by way of ACTUAL self-sacrifice, will the whole point of the ritual be restored. At present we are still sleepwalking and arguing over who should officiate – and Paddy is continuing to ask ‘Why Priests?’

  5. Paddy Ferry says:

    Seán, like yourself I have a fairly inquisitive mind and, having spent most of my life as someone who innocently accepted everything I was fed without much questioning, I am now fascinated by what my little bit of study has revealed to me. The term pre-critical naivete sums up perfectly where I have spent most of my life and I am pleased to be able to finally release myself from that.

    I am not trying to undermine the priesthood — as if I could — but I am simply sharing the views of eminent scholars who have interesting things to say about matters that interest people like you and me, Seán.

  6. Sean O'Conaill says:

    #6 I understand, Paddy – and I too have reacted strongly against the unexamined clericalism that was so pervasive in Ireland when I started paying attention (early 1960s). I reacted also against the legacy of Christendom – the tendency to romanticise that alliance of ‘the cross and the sword’ – as well as the attempt to sell us militant Irish nationalism as some kind of Christian sacrifice. Vatican II came as a revelation – especially the document on religious freedom (Dignitatis Humanae 1965) and I opted for a teaching career in the fond belief that radical ‘levelling’ reform was inevitable.

    Three decades later that hadn’t happened but the clerical church had been stunned by the clerical abuse revelations beginning on this island c. 1992 – and meanwhile the whole secular project was losing traction for me also. The discovery of Richard Rohr’s take on the Christian contemplative tradition, and then Girard’s mimetic theory, helped me to understand both the ecclesiastical crisis and the secular crisis – and gave me a place to stand. In particular I became convinced that the Constantinian shift in the early fourth century had put blinkers on the clerical church re the covetousness that always undergirded the Christendom political establishments – and this was the cause of the catastrophe of World I and what followed. As for the consistent failure of political revolution to bring true liberty, equality and fraternity, that too was easily explicable by the insight that we almost inevitably want what someone else wants and must conflict when that can’t be shared. The romantic Enlightenment notion that we are free to choose our desires, and can easily do that without conflict, was pinpointed and undone by Girard’s insight – while Jesus’s renunciation of covetousness was plain in the temptation narratives, and it explained also his submission to crucifixion far better than Anselm had done.

    That the incarnation is therefore a challenge to renounce the imitation of the desires of anyone other than Jesus became plain. Paul’s injunction to ‘sacrifice your bodies’ made clear the meaning of the common priesthood and the Mass also: it is in actual service to others that the meaning of the Mass is verified, so the elevation of those who merely officiate at the ritual to a higher social dignity was always a mistake. The emergence of a secular challenge to that status was inevitable.

    Because there can be no future without sacrifice it does not seem sensible to me to say that we do not need priests – my reason for questioning Garry Wills’s thesis. His mistake in believing that Girard had stopped thinking about sacrifice in 1978 with ‘Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World’ is too glaring.

    The questions I have asked above, in the 2nd and 3rd paragraph’s of #5 – does ‘Why Priests?’ provide an answer? If ‘Hebrews’ is truly dispensable how else could Christianity have freed itself from Jewish Temple worship? I don’t see the ‘letter’ as a licence to clericalism but as a logical argument for the primacy and sufficiency of Eucharistic worship and communion and a necessary ‘thought piece’ in the process sanctioned by the Council of Jerusalem – the mission to the Gentile world. If I am wrong, how do you see that?

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