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Bulletin: June 6, 2021

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Today’s solemnity celebrates Jesus’ self-gift to us in the Eucharist, the Living Bread that nourishes us, the perpetual Sacrifice that redeems us, the Real Presence that comforts us on our pilgrimage and challenges us to self-sacrificing love. As in our own Liturgy of the Word, Moses in Exodus solemnly proclaims God’s word to the assembled people, who solemnly affirm their acceptance of that word and pledge obedient fulfillment. Then, in a ritual reminiscent of our own liturgy, Moses seals the people’s spoken assent by sprinkling the assembly with sacrificial blood. The Letter to the Hebrews portrays Christ as our High Priest, entering the Holy of Holies with his own Blood to seal the New Covenant that frees its participants from death. This Sacrifice Jesus instituted sacramentally at the Last Supper and offered on the altar of the cross, the Sacrifice and Supper of which we partake at every Eucharist.


In presenting the still-familiar four-fold “Shape of the Eucharist”—Jesus takes / blesses / breaks / gives (Mark 14:22)—Mark omits Matthew’s specification of purpose “for the forgiveness of sins,” and Luke’s “for the remembrance of me.” But Jesus does recall the covenant, Israel’s liberation from Egypt’s slavery. And could the disciples—or we—fail to recall that, in Mark’s earliest verses, Jesus sits at table “with tax collectors and those known as sinners” (2:15)? Mark also emphasizes the Eucharist as our participation in Jesus’ passion and pledge of our share in his future glory. Jesus had earlier referred to his disciples’ suffering as “drinking from the cup he would drink” (10:38–39). Soon he would beg his Abba to “take this cup away” (14:36). But while sharing the Eucharistic cup, Jesus promises a day when he would “drink it new” (14:25): the cup of suffering and sorrow is not the last cup he—or we—will drink, the cup of the Garden of Agony will be transformed into the cup of the Kingdom of God.


Through both scripture and tradition, Jesus’ Eucharistic self-giving challenges us who partake so frequently of the Eucharist (or hope to do so again once the pandemic is past) to become a community of self-sacrificing love that both worships Christ’s presence in the Blessed Sacrament and serves Christ’s presence in others. In his Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium), Pope Francis praises the presence, in so many communities, of groups devoted to prayer and intercession, prayerful reading of God’s Word, and perpetual adoration of the Eucharist. But then Francis repeats Saint John Paul II’s warning that such personal devotion must never become a privatized, individualistic spirituality that forgets the demands of charity or the implications of Jesus’ incarnation (EG, 262). As we receive Jesus’ body sacramentally in the Eucharist, so we should touch Jesus’ flesh compassionately in the suffering flesh of others (EG 270).

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