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The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Solemnity
This feast, originally Corpus Christi, arose in thirteenth century Belgium in response to debates about the real presence and as a result of an upsurge in Eucharistic piety. Its extension to the entire Western Church was first decreed by Urban IV in 1264. The feast celebrates the mystery of the nourishing and enduring presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist.
THE LITURGY OF THE WORD.
It is very important for us to read God’s Word slowly and reflectively. We are not reading it just to get information or answer questions; we must enable God’s Word to enter us just like liquid polish enters timber that is thirsty for nutrition. A good rule of thumb is to have a question like this in our mind……”Lord, what are you saying to ME in your Word today? Secondly, how can my life be changed, in order to allow God’s Word to find a Home in my being? Finally, as for special Feasts, Advent and Lent, the three Readings are in a sequence which has an underlying thread running through them. In Ordinary time, the First Reading, and the Gospel are bridged…so we generally look for the link. The Second Reading is continuous, and follows on to the next Sunday.
First Reading: Exodus 24:3-8
Moses went and told the people all the commands of the Lord and all the ordinances. In answer, all the people said with one voice, ‘We will observe all the commands that the Lord has decreed.’ Moses put all the commands of the Lord into writing, and early next morning he built an altar at the foot of the mountain, with twelve standing-stones for the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he directed certain young Israelites to offer holocausts and to immolate bullocks to the Lord as communion sacrifices. Half of the blood Moses took up and put into basins, the other half he cast on the altar. And taking the Book of the Covenant he read it to the listening people, and they said, ‘We will observe all that the Lord has decreed; we will obey.’ then Moses took the blood and cast it towards the people. ‘This’ he said ‘is the blood of the Covenant that the Lord has made with you, containing all these rules.’ The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
(Let’s PAUSE and reflect upon this reading, and let us ask ourselves the two questions stated above. That is our PERSONAL response to the Word. This might take a few minutes, try not to rush it. The Psalm and Antiphon is the COMMUNITY response to God’s Word, a bit like a short and sweet Text Message)
Psalm: Ps 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.
Second Reading: Hebrews 9:11-15
Now Christ has come, as the high priest of all the blessings which were to come. He has passed through the greater, the more perfect tent, which is better than one made by men’s hands because it is not of this created order; and he has entered the sanctuary once and for all, taking with him not the blood of goats and bull calves, but his own blood, having won an eternal redemption for us. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer are sprinkled on those who have incurred defilement and they restore the holiness of their outward lives; how much more effectively the blood of Christ, who offered himself as the perfect sacrifice to God through the eternal Spirit, can purify our inner self from dead actions so that we do our service to the living God.
He brings a new covenant, as the mediator, only so that the people who were called to an eternal inheritance may actually receive what was promised: his death took place to cancel the sins that infringed the earlier covenant. The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Let’s PAUSE again after this Reading, and reflect on it like you did after the first Reading. The Community Acclamation follows and should be sung: e.g ALLELUIA, or PRAISE TO YOU LORD JESUS CHRIST KING OF ENDLESS GLORY. When we are present at our Sunday Eucharistic Celebration, the Alleluia or Praise be to you…should always be sung. Why? It’s a bit like singing Happy Birthday!
We never say it… 🙂
Gospel: Mark 14:12-16. 22-26
On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was sacrificed, his disciples said to Jesus, ‘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 you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him, and say to the owner of the house which he enters, “The Master says: Where is my dining room in which I can eat the passover with my disciples?” He will show you a large upper room furnished with couches, all prepared. Make the preparations for us there.’ The disciples set out and went to the city and found everything as he had told them, and prepared the Passover.
And as they were eating he took some bread, and when he said the blessing he broke it and gave it to them. ‘Take it,’ he said ‘this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had returned thanks he gave it to them, and all drank from it, and he said to them, ‘This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many. I tell you solemnly, I shall not drink any more wine until the day I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.’ After psalms had been sung they left for the Mount of Olives. The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Reflection time again……. Can you see and hear the links, connecting the First Reading, Second Reading and the Gospel? After that, we are then ready for what is to follow…..
DEEP SEA DIVING INTO THE SCRIPTURES
If you have ever opened your eyes under water, or used a snorkel and face mask, or had the opportunity to use an aqualung, it is a very different world to explore isn’t it? I love snorkelling, and it is though the fish welcome you into their world. However, they need to be treated with respect, and one must be aware of ‘no-go’ zones especially where sharks are known to call that place, ‘home’ especially at meal times. So, this next section is going down into the Scriptures, which opens the pathway for us to be curious about The Word, and it will also develop an appetite in us to do this more often.
Focusing the word
Key words and phrases
The Lord fed his people with the finest wheat.
Passover lamb was sacrificed.
Blood of the Covenant that the Lord has made with you.
Where is my dining room in which I can eat the passover with my disciples?
His death took place to cancel the sins that infringed the earlier covenant.
May we offer to our brothers and sisters a life poured out in loving service of your kingdom.
to the point
Jesus’ ministry was a giving of himself for others which came to a climax on the cross. The Last Supper is strategically placed in the gospel narrative as the summation of Jesus’ ministry and the anticipation of his self-giving on the cross. So, too, with us and Eucharist: it is the source and summit of our own self-giving in ministry and life.
Connecting the Word
to Ordinary Time
Eucharist sustains us through Ordinary Time to live out our identity and mission of self-giving.
to Catholic experience
Truly this Bread and this Wine is the real presence of Christ. Just as truly are we who consume this Bread and Wine the body of Christ.
Understanding the Word
Blood of the covenant
‘Blood’ figures prominently in all three readings. In Exodus the blood of animals ratifies the covenant; in Hebrews blood purifies sinners and obtains redemption; in Mark Jesus’ blood establishes a new covenant and is ‘shed for many.’
In Hebrew thought ‘the life of a living body is in its blood’ (Lev 17:11). As such it belongs to God and must be returned to God by being poured out onto the ground or upon the altar. Because it is such a powerful life-force, blood is used to protect people from threats of death, such as at Passover when the blood on the doorposts wards off the Destroyer (Exod 12); blood also guarantees safe passage to the High Priest who enters into the Holy of Holies without the usual punishment of death (Lev 16).
The readings highlight two functions of blood. (1) Blood and Covenant. In Exodus a familial relationship between God and Israel is established by the covenant. This covenantal, family-like relationship (see Holy Family) is effected when Moses sprinkles blood on the altar (symbolising God) and on the Israelites, making God and the people blood relatives, as it were. (2) Blood and Atonement. In Israel’s sacrifices blood atones for sin. As God explains: ‘I have made you put (blood) on the altar, so that atonement may thereby be made for your own lives, because it is the blood, as the seat of life, that makes atonement’ (Lev 17:11). And so Moses offers atoning sacrifices to purify the people before they formalise the covenant relationship. God enters into the covenant with a purified and acceptable people.
The blood of Jesus fulfils both these functions. As Hebrews explains, Jesus made atonement by pouring out ‘his own blood’ which had the power to ‘sanctify those who are defiled’ and thereby obtained ‘eternal redemption.’ Jesus, by pouring out his blood, establishes a ‘new covenant’ (Heb 9:15; see Mark 14:24). Note the contrasts: the mediator of this covenant is not Moses, but Christ; the blood is not animal blood, but Christ’s ‘own blood’; the ‘promised inheritance’ is not a land but ‘eternal redemption.’
READINGS TAB ON THE HOME PAGE: Fr Kevin Walsh has written four short essays on Holy Communion. If you wish to find these, you will need to scroll down a fair way, because he has written other Essays on various topics of interest prior to the Holy Communion Essays.
A realhomilie from Fr.Kev
Dear One and All,
Today, I would like to go DEEP SEA DIVING again in this realhomilie with you. I am very curious as to the bottomless underlying Biblical meanings in the First Reading and the Gospel, because what awaits us is like various types of Reef Coral, in their splendid colours. What does the vista of such beauty do to the human spirit? It takes one’s breath away, it causes us to tread water, in other words our whole being calls us to Gaze and Wonder! This experience has the power to prepare us for the great mystery of the Eucharist. So, let’s get our gear together, and down we go……….
Many times I have said that we must be curious when we read God’s Word, so that the empowerment of the Holy Spirit can invite us to the great depths contained in it. For me, God’s Word is like a continuing echo, somewhat like the echoes that we hear in the Mountains, where the words contained in our voice, bounces off the rock walls, and we hear it many times over. When God speaks the words continue to echo or bounce continually. Whereas when we yell out, ‘Coo ee’ as we do in Australia, the bounce gets softer and softer. Not so with God’s Word; it never gets softer! It’s in perpetual motion.
In the first Reading from the Old Testament, the place where this is happening is towards the base of Mt.Sinai/Mt.Horeb in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt. Here in this reading we have a primitive Liturgy taking place, which externalises the internal reality initiated by the Lord God in the Covenant. ( I will be your God and you are my people) Hence the Decalogue or Ten Words of God outline the Mission Statement which enables our side of the Covenant to stay intact. As for the Lord God, there is no question about God’s fidelity.
This Liturgical activity contains very deep significance for God’s people. Firstly the killing of the animals was seen to be a preamble in this Liturgy, thus cleansing the way for LISTENING, RESPONDING AND PARTICIPATION. Somewhat like our Penitential Rite within the Celebration of the Eucharist, prior to the Liturgy of the Word, and Eucharist. Notice the symbolism of the Altar of sacrifice; sacred in its own way of the Lord God’s presence. The twelve stones representing the twelve tribes of God’s children.
The actual setting and purpose of the people, and Leaders, is very important; here we have the beginnings of a Covenant renewal Liturgy. Let’s go on; the blood had been gathered and placed in a Panniers that is a large metal dishes, and positioned on the Altar. What is so special about the blood, you might ask? Well for our ancestors in faith, blood was a symbol and sign of LIFE! For example, during a battle when someone drove a spear into one of the enemy, the blood came out…the life spills away. Also remember when the Hebrews where held captive in Egypt during the ten plagues? It was a sign of liberation and new life when the blood from the Lambs was painted over the lintel, the joist or beam over the door way. The Angel of Death would then Passover them….so here we see blood as a symbol of being spared, given new life. On that basis, simply put, it is BLOOD which is the symbol of LIFE.
Getting back to the Liturgical action at the foot of the Holy Mountain of the Lord God, it is important to see that after the ‘Covenant – Commands’ of the Lord God were proclaimed, the community response was, “ We will observe, all that the Lord has decreed; we will obey.” Now here we have come across a stunning action! Let’s take it slowly……to observe can mean to study, to examine, to perceive, to scrutinize, to survey etc. But in this case it is all of that plus more, and that comes out in the next word that is a real gem…….’we will obey’ The verb to obey has a very profound meaning for our ancestors in faith. For them it was more that do this or do that, for them it was a special kind of listening with the body, mind and spirit. Nowadays, we would call it holistic listening. This it would seem runs with, and entwined to ‘gazing’…….i.e reflective looking, and hearing and savouring. So for the people of Israel to obey in this context is also communitarian……’we will obey’. It would seem that the community response is beyond doubt linked with others as well as self, thus enabling ‘grace’ to manifest itself in and through the living out of God’s Decalogue. (Ten Commandments) Covenanted Life in God.
Let’s go back to the significance of ‘the blood’ in this Ritual; notice that half the blood was cast on the altar, and the rest was ceremoniously sprinkled on the community. What do you think that this Ritual – albeit, Liturgical action meant? Now, don’t give up too quickly…look back at what we were talking about earlier on…….. Yes, you got it right! The life of the Lord God was truly among His people offering renewed life through this Covenant Renewal Ceremony. However at all times we must remember that it is the Lord God who initiates, and it is up to us to respond.
Now, let’s take another look at the Second Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews…….this is in fact a commentary on the connection of the first reading with the Gospel. Let’s move on to a deeper understanding of the meaning and significance of bread!
In the Old Testament, it is a common understanding that Bread can also be a symbol for God’s Word, and its inherit benevolence, see Exodus 16:4 ‘I am going to rain down bread from Heaven’ (That is the Manna in the desert.) Ezekiel 3: 1-3 is deeply profound, let’s have a look at it.’ He said, ‘Son of man (Ezekiel) eat what is given to you, eat this scroll, then go and speak to the House of Israel’. I opened my mouth; he gave me the scroll to eat and said, ‘Son of man, feed and be satisfied by the scroll I am giving you’. I ate it, and it tasted sweet as honey’. This is a spectacular reading from the Old Testament which would do us good to keep in mind as we think about God’s Word at all times. Notice that it tasted like sweet honey; even here there is a profound meaning. Honey by itself is not something that we scoff down…..no, it has to be tasted, it has to infuse our tastebuds, and generally while this is happening we are ‘caught’ within these moments as if it were a gazing experience. So the action of savouring is related to the deliciousness of God’s Word which causes our taste buds to dance! So, to be in tune with God’s Word we must let it sink into us, slowly, reflectively within an atmosphere of stillness. Food for thought, eh? When we listen to God’s Word in future, and taking this into account, it cannot be rushed…..’Lord, what are you saying to me through your Holy Word, how can my life be changed?’ Conversely, if we rush listening to someone else while engaged in conversation, or have our minds on other things, we have Buckley’s chance of knowing what it is all about!
Staying with the concept of Bread, I would like to speak about a special custom that used to be ‘common place’ in ancient times, when groups of people would move through the Desert and Mountains to either trade or buy goods. Usually these journeys took a number of days, very different to us; we just get in the car, and off to Woolworths or the local Shopping Mall. But in the days of our ancestors of faith, they would share their bread with each other at the Camp site, and they would only have in their company, trusted people, for obvious reasons. It would be unthinkable for each person to have their own hamper; sharing the Bread together was a ritual of trust and companionship. From that beautiful word, companionship we can break it up into com from the Latin cum, meaning ‘with’, and panis from the Latin meaning ‘bread’. So here we have the meaning of companionship……’sharing bread with. There is a wonderful and simple meaningful song which is sometimes used when there is a greater number of Children present at the Celebration of the Eucharist…..Titled:-’We are companions on the journey, breaking bread and sharing life.’ By Carey Landry.
So now, let’s take all the above into account as we listen, savour, and gaze on the Words of today’s Gospel. As Jesus and his disciples make their way to the Cenacle for the Supper, they had to pass over a small stream which flowed from that part of the Temple where the Lambs had been slaughtered, it is good to note that the little stream would not have been clear water, but water mixed with blood…….very symbolic at this time. Now within the Gospel reading, we see Jesus taking the Bread, offering it and handing it out saying…’ This is my Body’. And then with the Cup….’this is the cup of my Blood..The blood of the covenant…’ A very Liturgical action which would seem, was used by the early church in the ‘Breaking of Bread’.
So to conclude, this Feast is very important in the Church Calendar, because it not only causes us to PAUSE, but to reflect deeply upon Our Lord’s Communion with us through His Word, in the Eucharist and in His people.’
God Bless you and your families and May we never forget each other the next time that we are held in conversation with the Lord, Fr.Kev
OUR FAMILY PRAYER TIME………
This is a great opportunity to gather the Family in Prayer. Having a Prayer Setting really adds to and designates this time as a ‘special’ time together. You might like to have a nice coloured cloth on a coffee table, or on the centre of the Dining Room Table. You will need a candle, Crucifix, Bible …in the opened position, even at the Gospel of the Sunday, and maybe a flower. During Easter tide you might like to place some white and gold material on your devotional altar. You might like to create your own permanent ‘sacred space’ in your home, where the Word of God is open, and a small tee light within a fire proof glass, could awaken in the minds and hearts of your family of the ‘real presence’ of God in His Word. Prayer time needs to be able to engage as many of our senses as possible. The burning of some fragrant oil also can evoke in the minds of your family, ‘prayer time’. Someone in the family might like to be the leader of the intercessions, then other family members can share the prayers….everyone can be invited to join is spontaneous shared prayer…
Leader: We pray for hearts grateful for this gift of Christ’s Body and Blood and for strength to give ourselves for the sake of others.
1. That the Church be faithful to who she is as body of Christ. We pray to the Lord: LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER
2. That all people of the world come to unity and peace through self-giving for the sake of others. We pray to the Lord: LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER
3. That those without food and drink receive sufficient nourishment to live healthy and strong lives. We pray to the Lord: LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER
4. That each of us proclaim by just deeds and worthy lives the mystery of Christ’s self-giving. We pray to the Lord: LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER
5. Let’s think back over the past week, and what we have seen on the T.V News, Breaking News on our Mobile Phones and ipads….who are some of the people in our Global village or need our prayers? You might like to share some of these…………., we pray to the Lord: LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER
Leader: Gracious God, you have given us abundant food and drink for our journey: hear these prayers that we might enjoy everlasting life with you. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Blessing is taken from the Iona Abbey Sacramentary, Scotland.
Iona Abbey is located on the Isle of Iona, just off the Isle of Mull on the West Coast of Scotland. It is one of the oldest and most important religious centres in Western Europe. The abbey was a focal point for the spread of Christianity throughout Scotland and marks the foundation of a monastic community by St. Columba, when Iona was part of the Kingdom of Dál Riata.
1. The Cross
ALL WE SHALL TAKE IT.
2. The bread……………
ALL WE SHALL BREAK IT.
3. The pain
ALL WE SHALL BEAR IT.
4. The joy………………
ALL WE SHALL SHARE IT.
5. The Gospel……………
ALL WE SHALL LIVE IT.
6. The love…………
ALL WE SHALL GIVE IT.
7. The light……………
ALL WE SHALL CHERISH IT.
8. The darkness…………….
ALL WE SHALL PERISH IT. Amen.