for Sunday, June 3, 2018
"Eat my flesh. Drink my blood." It is no wonder that many people in the first century of Christianity thought of Christians as cannibals! The focus of this great Solemnity of Corpus Christi is on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This Solemnity is an echo of Holy Thursday, when we celebrated the memory of the Last Supper.
The first reading today is from the Book of Exodus and is about the Covenant between God and the Chosen People, with Moses acting as the spokesperson for the Chosen People. The way in which such a covenant was expressed was by sacrificing lots of bulls and collecting their blood and pouring half of that blood on the altar (the symbol of God's presence) and sprinkling the other half over the assembled people. The point is that the People and God are now joined by a bond of blood.
The second reading is from the Letter to the Hebrews. Again the focus of the reading is on blood, but showing that the sprinkling of blood only gives a bond that cannot last and is not perfect. Yet Jesus Christ shed His blood for us. Jesus poured out His blood for us. The Letter to the Hebrews wants us to recognize that this pouring of blood makes a perfect covenant and one which will never end. Jesus is the mediator of a New Covenant. Because Jesus has died for us we can receive eternal life.
The Gospel is from Saint Mark and is the account of the Last Supper and is the narrative of the institution of the transforming mystery of Christ being with us always. Again, we can dwell on blood. "This is my blood of the covenant which shall be shed for many." Then Jesus leaves to meet His death.
Today many of us are far removed from any contact with blood, either human blood or animal blood. Many of us no longer think of blood as the lifeblood of people. To understand these readings we must spend some time thinking about blood. Blood is shed all the time in our modern world. There are wars in so many countries today. Even worse, the blood of innocents is shed without even thinking about it. In China alone, during 40 years, there were 336 million abortions. We can think of all these souls as a mighty army in heaven, interceding for our world, which continues to exterminate the unborn at a high rate. The blood of the innocent cries out! Each year in our world there are about 55 million unborn children who are victims of abortion.
A Covenant in blood is a promise for life! The more we are able to live because of the blood of Christ, the more we can have the strength to work at changing our world, which lives in such darkness.
So first, we must believe and invite others to believe. Then we must seek to follow Jesus Christ and His Way. In that following, our world will change. Glory to God!
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Exodus 24.3-8
Second Reading: Hebrews 9.11-15
Gospel: Mark 14.12-16, 22-26
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: