Mk 14:12-16, 22-26
This feast day is formally known as The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
In the first reading Moses received the commandments and comes to the people to ratify the covenant between God and them. “Taking the book of the covenant, he read it aloud to the people, who answered, ‘All that the Lord has said, we will heed and do.’ Then he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words of his.’”
Unlike Moses using the blood of animals to signify the ratification of the covenant, Hebrews tells us that, Jesus “… entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.” The reading continues with, “For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer’s ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.”
It is the gospel reading that describes the words and actions of Jesus that makes the meaning of his covenant sacrifice clear. It was at Jesus’ last supper with his closest disciples that Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist. Christ offered himself to God for our salvation. He accomplished this as he took on his role as a victim in the form of bread and wine. The formal teaching of the Catholic Church states that, “The Eucharist is the source and the summit of the Christian life… For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself… The Eucharist is also the culmination both of God’s action, sanctifying the world in Christ and, of the worship men [and women] offer to Christ… In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith… ” (CCC 1324-5).
At every mass we celebrate and share in the words and actions of Jesus. What he did and said is not a singular event but one that is repeated daily in every mass in every part of our world.
While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
At the end of the supper Jesus went out to face his suffering and death. The words and actions he spoke at the supper became real as the bread he broke became his physical body broken on
the cross. The shedding of blood also became visibly real as his blood was poured out on the cross. All this was done for us, done out of great love for us.
As Catholics we believe that the Eucharist is real food, the body and blood of Christ. We need the Eucharist to be spiritually nourished and to know that Christ is truly present to us. In addition to receiving Eucharist we can grow closer to the Risen Christ by spending time in the presence of the Eucharist in the tabernacle.
Every Wednesday afternoon at 4:15, a group of Cleveland Ursulines spends 30 minutes in silent contemplative prayer in the presence of the Eucharist. This silent prayer is offered for a specific intention each week. There is spiritual power and union in doing this together in the presence of Christ’s real presence.
During the height of the pandemic Catholics participated in the celebration of mass via their TVs. Now that restrictions are lessening, it is time to be present physically so that the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ, may be received into our own bodies. Spiritual communions are not the real body and blood of Christ. There is no substitute!
How can you become more conscious of the true meaning of Eucharist in your life?
When mass has ended, how do you become the presence of Christ for others?