Friday, June 8, 2012

Reflections on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi Sunday) by Jason R. Lewis

 

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Today's Readings:

First Reading:               EXODUS 24:3-8

Responsorial Psalm:     PSALM 116:12-13, 15-18

Second Reading:          HEBREWS 9:11-15

Gospel Reading:           MARK 14:12-16, 22-26

 

Today's Question:  How does the bread, "blessed, broken and given" play a role in my life as a Christian?

 

Today we celebrate one of the loveliest feasts of the year.  Formerly and in some places even today, this day is celebrated with a colorful procession of the Blessed Sacrament through the streets or at least through the grounds of the parish church.  Not all parishes do this, but a "Corpus Christi" procession is an option in the Roman Missal for today's liturgical celebrations throughout the world.  Today let us touch on a few themes which are at the center of the Eucharist's meaning and can be found in the three Scripture readings for today.

CONVENANT:  The word "covenant" appears in all three readings.  The Hebrew Scriptures, God made a covenant with his people on a number of occasions.  He promised he would always be their God and they would be his people.  The covenant was remembered and ratified by the sacrifices of animals and the pouring out of their blood.  But Jesus mediated a new covenant in which there were significant differences.  First, no longer was it necessary for the bloof of bullocks and goats to flow.  In one sacrificial act of his very self, Jesus' own blood became the sign of the new convenant.  Blood was poured out once and for all by the Lamb of God.  Again, the covenant of the old dispensation was for one people; the new covenant embraces the whole human race.  These things we ought to remember as we celebrate the Eucharist.

THANKSGIVING:  Because of this, the Eucharist is primarily a time of thanksgiving.  The very word "Eucharist" comes from a Greek word (eucharistica) which means thanksgiving.  How often do we really come to the Eucharist in this frame of mind?  How often we do drag ourselves reluctantly to another "boring experience" which, as Catholics, we are told we have to attend under pain of serious sin?  The prayers of the Eucharist, especially the central Eucharistic Prayer, remind us of the tremendous event of God coming to us in Jesus Christ, living and dying for our sake and leaving behind the gift of his community and a way of life to bring us happiness, freedom and peace.  But it is also a time to count the particular blessings that have come into our own lives - from the gift of life to the experiences that happened only yesterday or this morning.

RECONCILIATION:  The Eucharist is also a time for reconciliation.  Some have the mistake idea that, unless they are in a state of moral perfection, they should not come to Mass or receive communion.  Let's face it.  We, every single one of us and that includes the priest on the altar, approach the Eucharist as sinners and because we are sinners.  We think of the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a time to face our sinfulness bu that sacrament is primarily for those whose seriously unloving behavior has cut them off from the Eucharistic table.  Most of us most of the time are not in that state buyt, if we are honest, we can recognize that our relationships with God and others are not anything like they should be.  They theme of reconciliation goes right through the Mass.  It appears at the beginning in the penitential rite with a public profession of our sinfulness.  We repeat these words so often we hardly realise we are making a public acknowledgement of our sinfulness.  Hopefully, we really mean what we are saying.

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Today's Prayer:  O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament have left us a memorial of your Passion, grant us, we pray, so to revere the sacred mysteries your Body and Blood that we may always experience in ourselves the fruits of your redemption. 

(Taken from the Roman Missal, Collect for The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, 2010.)